Miami Marlins – Updated State of the Union: The Hitters and Pitchers

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

In 2013, the Marlins will have an all to familiar feeling of being a team waiting to grow up around in a division of championship contenders.  Hopefully this is the exception and not the rule for the Miami club.

In 2013, the Marlins will have an all to familiar feeling of being a team waiting to grow up around in a division of championship contenders. Hopefully this is the exception and not the rule for the Miami club.

In December, we took a look at Miami moving forward after the now infamous salary dump of the Winter of ’12.  Living in South Florida, its been an interesting off-season to discuss baseball with those who care about the sport.  Some believe that the trade was a positive baseball move, others think it was another in a long line of for profit motivated transactions by a team whose reputation is for that type of maneuver.  

In either case, with opening day approximately three (3) weeks ahead of us, it is now time to move on from the trade and examine to a greater degree what the 2013 season holds for the Miami franchise.

As with the past article, we will start with Giancarlo Stanton.  Statistically, we have spent a large portion of time discussing Stanton’s strengths.  He is an elite power presence in the middle of the Marlins lineup.  I won’t spend time re-hashing the statistics that we have already went over.  I do think its important to point out a few things that may effect Stanton’s output this year.

For Part 1 of the Marlins State Of The Union Piece in December – The Hitters:  click here

For Part 2 of the Marlins State Of The Union Piece in December – The Pitchers: click here

More Giancarlo Stanton Highlights – Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

Will the Marlins Batting Order make Stanton's development more difficult by exposing his weaknesses?

Will the Marlins Batting Order make Stanton’s development more difficult by exposing his weaknesses?

Obviously, the line-up around Stanton is significantly less polished than the line-up from 2012.  While I do not necessarily buy into the idea of “line-up protection”, I do subscribe to the idea that a smart pitcher will change the way he throws to a batter based on in-game situations.  This may cause Stanton to see less fastballs, even in fastball counts, as the opposing pitchers will be more interested in staying away from Stanton’s power.  

As a player who already has a 28.5% strike out rate as his overwhelming weakness, it would be fair to assume that Stanton’s free swinging ways will be used to his disadvantage as pitchers feed him a steady diet of breaking balls.

While Stanton clearly has a concerning trait, he is still the best player by far that the Marlins have to rely on and should still put up 30+ home runs even in what should be a bad Marlins line-up.  On shining spot in the line-up besides Giancarlo Stanton may be their young Catcher, Rob Brantly.  In the Marlins pay-roll article, we touched briefly on Brantly.  

For a young hitter, his ratios are very good in limited Plate Appearances.  His Walk Rate was 11.5% and his Strike Out Rate was 14.2% in 2012.  Both of these averages are above the Major League average and indicate a player that had considerable plate patience during his initial stint in the bigs.  While I do truly like Brantly, Marlins fans need to realize that his history at the Minor League level does not support that type of Walk Rate.  

Brantly has not put up that kind of Walk Rate since his time in Single-A.  It is important for Marlins fans to keep expectations at a reasonable level as Brantly will probably revert slightly back to who he was in the Minor Leagues.  This doesn’t mean he is a bad player, but that patience will be a virtue with these young Marlins’ hitters. When we talk about the “young” Marlins hitters, it is important to talk about Christian Yelich.  

We spent some time on Christian Yelich, the Marlins uber-prospect, in the December piece.  Since that article, Yelich has been absolutely killing this Spring Training.  Yelich has a slash line of .361/.465/.750 during the spring. This is especially interesting considering that the Marlins regular CF, Justin Ruggiano has been suffering through back problems this spring.  Ruggiano is an interesting player, but he has one outstanding weakness.  Ruggiano has carried an over 20% Strike Out Rate with him through his entire career.  It is hard to believe that Ruggiano will be able to hold off a talent like Yelich for very long.  

Is Yelich the 2013 answer in the outfield for the Marlins?

Is Yelich the 2013 answer in the outfield for the Marlins?

With a .401 BABIP in 2012 and a Strike Out Rate of 26.3%, it is very likely that Ruggiano sees a large regression in Batting Average  and turn On Base Percentage. This isn’t a fun reality as Ruggiano was one of the few positive surprises on an otherwise disappointing 2012 season, but based on the statistical data, it is the reality nonetheless. Ruggiano will start the season while Yelich ticks out his service clock in Triple-A, but based on everything we are seeing in the number Yelich should be with the big club sooner rather than later. 

In the December piece, we wrapped up discussing Logan Morrison and the Marlins’ need for him to become at the very least a productive regular in the Major Leagues.  Sadly enough, we have not even gotten a look at Morrison this spring as he has been recovering from knee surgery in September. This is a negative for the future of the Marlins.  

Morrison needs to be ready to go as health has been a key concern for him.  Without a spring training at bat in mid-March and just starting to run, it is highly unlikely that Morrison will be ready to go before mid-to-late April.  Losing those at bats hurts the Marlins evaluation process on Morrison and Morrison’s ability to ramp it up.  Hopefully, he gets healthy sooner rather than later.

On the other side of our December preview, we discussed the pitchers the Marlins would have to rely on in 2013 and beyond.  There really isn’t too much new to add to our original post.  Ricky Nolasco will head up the staff for as long as the Marlins can justify keeping his salary on the ball club.  In multiple previous posts, we have discussed Nolasco’s weaknesses particularly in the face of being the highest paid player on the Marlins.  The rest of the Marlins pitching staff is similar to the roster without there being as much young talent ready to play.

Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi are all young pitchers who have shown their fair share of warts coming into 2013.  Turner’s struggles have been detailed previously, but as a quick review, Turner is a former top prospect, whose trait for not striking out a lot of Major League hitters and giving up an above average amount of home runs has been beyond concerning for this Marlins squad.  Alvarez and Eovaldi are replacement level arms with upside. 

Neither player has shown the ability to be above that level to this point in their career, but given the Marlins current payroll strategy and lack of options, both should get a fair number of chances to eat up Innings Pitched on this Marlins club. Nothing that has happened in Spring Training has truly changed my perception of the these young players.  They need to show us something during their opportunity this season to prove that they aren’t just depth arms providing cheap innings.

Entering the 2013 season, the Marlins are a mixture of old and young, but there is far too many questions of if replacement or slightly above replacement level assets will perform for us to feel comfortable with this team being anything more than a cellar dweller. However, everyday we get closer to the start of the season, we comply new information and a better sample size with which to determine where the Marlins will go next.  Whatever 2013 brings for this franchise, it should be interesting.  

For Part 1 of the Marlins State Of The Union Piece in December – The Hitters:  click here

For Part 2 of the Marlins State Of The Union Piece in December – The Pitchers: click here

With the trades of last year Major League Roster for Top Prospects, it could be  a lean year at the turnstiles of New Marlins Ballpark

With the trades of last years Major League Roster for Top Prospects, it could be a lean year at the turnstiles of New Marlins Ballpark in downtown Miami.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Trade and Yankees Correspondent’ Nicholas Rossoletti for preparing today’s featured article. Nicholas is a young professional living in downtown Miami. He is a lifelong baseball fan and an avid Yankee supporter. Having grown up during the last two decades, he counts Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera as his favorite ball players of all time. He believes in sabermetrics and that new stats have already changed the way the baseball industry sees players.

He was for Trout over Cabrera, he thinks RBIs tell you a lot more about a team than a player and that defense and pitching, ultimately, win championships. Rational thought and introspective analysis over the narrative is how we come to understand the game we love. The narrative is just a way to keep those who don’t really love the game watching. Feel free to follow Nicholas on twitter and talk the game of baseball

“There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.” ~ Al Gallagher, 1971

a    nicholas rossoletti

Please e-mail me at: mlbreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook. To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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Posted on March 16, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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