Season Previews: Miami Marlins

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks! 

Miami Marlins

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 81-81 (3rd in NL East, 17th in MLB)

Manager: Mike Redmond (139-185 in two seasons with Miami)

Top Three Players: OF Giancarlo Stanton (5.9), OF Christian Yelich (3.2), OF Marcell Ozuna (3.2)

Bounce-back Player: OF Giancarlo Stanton

It isn’t every day that a player has his face hit by a 90 mile-per-hour to the face, breaking bones and teeth, while in the middle of an MVP-caliber season. That, unfortunately, is what happened to Stanton last season, yet, he managed to finish the season with career-highs in home runs, RBI, runs, and walks, while earning his second All-Star appearance and first Silver Slugger in his age-24 season. While some may be weary of the massive slugger due to the psychological impact that his injury may have on his future abilities, he is in this spot because what Stanton was doing last season was the tip of the iceberg. While Stanton has had issues staying healthy over his career, the injury last season was of the “freak” variety, and, as the Marlins begin to piece together a formidable roster, Stanton’s opportunities to continue his climb to superstardom will increase, as will his ability to maintain and exceed his incredible 2014 numbers.

Now protected with a faceguard, can Stanton be even better? Courtesy: ESPN.com
Now protected with a faceguard, can Stanton be even better?
Courtesy: ESPN.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: 1B Justin Bour

An injury to an outfielder or to Mike Morse could pave the way for Bour to finally get an extended look at first base. At 26, he is hardly a prospect, but he has been quite productive throughout his minor league career after being drafted in the 25th round in 2009. Bour got his first taste of the majors in 2014, posting a .284/.361/.365 line over 83 plate appearances, while posting a .279/.351/.460 line over 2,742 career minor league plate appearances. The Marlins do have quite a bit of depth (Ichiro Suzuki, Reed Johnson, and Jeff Baker will be on their bench), but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the 6’4″, 250 pounder was called upon at some point in 2015.

Offseason Overview: Miami was active over the winter, acquiring RHP Mat Latos from Cincinnati and 2B Dee Gordon from the Dodgers. The speed that Gordon provides, if he continues to get on base, creates quite a bit of diversity within the Marlins’ lineup. In 2014, Miami only received a .236/.303/.344 from their second basemen, so Gordon could provide quite a nice upgrade there. In Latos, the Marlins gained one-year of a pitcher capable of elite production, and a pitcher who is capable of occupying the No.1 spot in the rotation until Jose Fernandez returns from his rehab for Tommy John surgery. While the Marlins gave up some solid, mid-rotation arms (Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani) to acquire these players, they continue to develop and draft solid talent to build from within. It didn’t stop there, though, as Miami acquired RHP Aaron Crow from the Royals, RHP Dan Haren (in the same deal with Gordon), RHP David Phelps and 3B Martin Prado (both acquired from the Yankees in a deal that sent Nathan Eovaldi and Garret Jones to New York), while signing 1B Mike Morse via free agency to provide additional power, and OF Ichiro Suzuki, OF Tyler Colvin, and INF Scott Sizemore to strengthen the bench. The club promised Stanton that they would build around him when he signed his massive $325 million extension, and it appears that they are holding firm to that promise.

The Verdict: When you have a superstar like Stanton, you build around him. Miami just locked-up OF Christian Yelich to a seven-year extension, and they have additional talent like OF Marcell Ozuna, RHP Henderson Alvarez, RHP and closer Steve Cishek, and hard-throwing RHP Jarred Cosart on-hand. The addition of veterans like Prado and Haren can be a huge influence on a young roster, but these young, core players are talented and experienced enough to know what they are doing. The Marlins will be a contender in the National League East in 2015, and they may be the only team who is capable of giving the Nationals any true competition in the division. Look for this team to be several games better than the .500 PECOTA projection, and look for a run to the Wild Card once Jose Fernandez joins the rotation in mid-to-late June.

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