CHICAGO, September 10, 2013 — Yesterday, Tagging Up began the Better Luck Next Year series by looking at the Houston Astros, who were the first team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Next up for Better Luck Next Year is the Miami Marlins.
What went right: The number one thing that right for Miami this year goes by the name of Jose Fernandez. There was a great deal of skepticism when the Marlins had Fernandez on the Opening Day roster, but their belief in the youngster has been great for all of baseball, except for opposing hitters. Fernandez has pitched 165 innings and will be shut down after his next start tomorrow. Fernandez has an ERA+ of 174 while striking out 27.9% of batters faced while walking 8.4%. He is one of the leading candidates for NL Rookie of the Year, with Yasiel Puig, and should receive Cy Young votes.
Jose Fernandez was not the only pleasant surprise, as Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Turner also have had great years on the Marlins pitching staff. While Eovaldi may not be more than this he has an ERA+ of 102, approximately league average, in 87.2 innings pitched while Turner has thrown 107.2 innings with an ERA+ of 113. Turner is under team control for three more years and should slot in nicely behind Fernandez.
Christian Yelich’s call up was also somewhat controversial at the time but has worked out well so far. Yelich has a .286/.352/.394 but is still only 175 at bats into his major league career. Christian Yelich seems to have a good eye seeing 4.07 pitches per plate appearance, and while his power is still developing, he could find himself at the top of the order and will hopefully continue to develop as he is still only 21 years old.
What went wrong: When the Marlins called up Yelich, they called up Jake Marisnick the same day. Most people felt that, like Yelich, the call to the bigs may have come too soon for Marisnick, and so far that concern is justified. Marisnick has underwhelmed, posting a .186/.236/.245 slash line in his 102 at bats. Many scouts believe in Marisnick’s tools and hopefully he can bounce back and make adjustments next year, but so far he has not justified the Marlins calling him up.
Another concern for the Marlins is the step back taken by Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has still been the best hitter on the Marlins producing 2.7 offensive WAR with a slash line of .249/.365/.473 which is below the levels that Stanton has produced at the last couple of years. Stanton battled injuries this year and spoke out in the offseason against the Marlins selling everything that was not nailed down. Stanton could be disillusioned with the team and that may be impacting his performance, but if the Marlins look to trade him this offseason they will have little trouble finding a taker and should be able to name their own price. The ransom the Marlins are likely to get if they trade Stanton could be cast into doubt by the return GM Michael Hill got for starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco made four times more money than anyone on the roster and was traded midseason to the LA Dodgers. Nolasco is not a true ace but had the Marlins been willing to pay part of his salary it is possible that they could have received a good prospect as opposed to the three lower tier prospects they acquired.
What to expect in 2014: Marlins fans will be able to watch Jose Fernandez every fifth game which is well worth the price of admission. If they hold onto Stanton, then his light tower blasts are also worth the price of admission. Other than those two, though, fans should look for continued development from youngsters like Yelich, Marisnick and Turner while also watching some of the prospects on the farm like Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino and this year’s first round pick, Colin Moran. Marlins fans should not expect to contend, but there are at least reasons to go to the park.
FREE AGENTS/OPTIONS: Greg Dobbs, Juan Pierre, Jacob Turner (club option), Austin Kearns, Chad Qualls and Placido Polanco
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