Not As Good As Everyone Thinks

Now that we’ve completed the Organizational Rankings series, I wanted to spend a few posts talking about some of the points raised about different organizations. Specifically, it became clear to me that a couple of teams are wildly overrated and are likely to finish with a significantly worse record than a lot of you believe. No team fits the bill more than the Florida Marlins.

It became clear in the comments that a lot of you think the Marlins might actually be pretty good this year. They won 84 games last year, after all, and are full of young players, so the immediate future is bright, right?

Sorry, but no.

CHONE projects the Marlins to finish 75-87. PECOTA says 70-92. THT has them going 72-90.

Why the 10+ win drop-off from last year? Regression to the mean.

Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, and John Baker all performed at offensive levels last year that they simply can’t be expected to repeat. The projected regression from those three will cost the Marlins 30+ runs off of their ’08 total. That’s a big deal.

On the pitching side, Scott Olsen, Joe Nelson, and Kevin Gregg have all been shipped off, and while none of them should have been counted on to repeat their performances, it’s also unlikely that the Marlins will be able to replace those 320+ innings with a similar performance. The increase in innings given to Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad (another guy whose performance will regress), and Anibal Sanchez will simply attempt to compensate for the useful performances that they lost from last year.

Last year, the Marlins outscored their opponents by three runs while getting unsustainable performances from a lot of players. The idea that the Marlins have any real shot at contending for a playoff spot this year is a myth. They’re an also-ran, far closer to the Nationals in ability than the Mets, Phillies, or Braves. It’s more likely that they finish last in the NL East than first.

Don’t buy into the hype of the Marlins as a young team that could surprise. The only people who will be surprised by the Marlins this year are those that expect them to contend.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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