Things to Know about the Florida Marlins

"Dude. Let go already."

The Mets come home today to start a two game series against the Florida Marlins tonight. Here’s some stuff you might want to know about them:

Record: 23-16, 2nd place NL East
Manager: Edwin Rodriguez. Lifetime 69-61 managerial record.
Park: The Mets are home. Citi Field.

Quickly . . .
Can they hit? Yes
Can they pitch? Yes-ish
Can they field? Believe it or not, they can this year.
Who’s their best player? We’ll say Josh Johnson.

Lineup:
CF – Chris Coghlan – L
3B – Emilio Bonifacio – S
SS – Hanley Ramirez – R
1B – Gaby Sanchez – R
LF – Logan Morrison – L
RF – Mike Stanton – R
C – John Buck – R
2B – Omar Infante – R

Hanley Ramirez is all kinds of lost, batting .219 with a .310 on-base percentage and just 8 extra base hits, but even with him struggling, the Marlins are still scoring 4.42 runs per game, the fourth most in the NL. They’re fourth in team on-base percentage and fifth in team slugging percentage. Gaby Sanchez is in the top ten for just about every NL offensive category, while fellow sophomore Mike Stanton, after not hitting a home run until April 21st, now has 7 on the year and more extra base hits than singles. Most of these guys are sophomores, actually: It is the youngest team in the NL. (Florida state law mandates that 30 year old catcher John Buck be paid hourly wages as a baby sitter.) Somewhat strangely, when you consider their age, they are also one of the worst at running the bases (17 for 32 in stolen base attempts, and Baseball Prospectus estimates they’ve cost themselves 5 runs on the bases). Despite the youthful indiscretions mixed with a lack of speed, this lineup is for real: Chris Coghlan, Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, and Mike Stanton give Florida a talented group of players under 30 and under team control for the next few seasons.

Rotation:
5/16: RHP – Josh Johnson (vs. Mike Pelfrey)
5/17: RHP – Ricky Nolasco (vs. Jon Niese)
Miss: RHP – Chris Volstad
Miss: RHP – Anibal Sanchez
Miss: RHP – Javier Vazquez

The Joshua Tree of NL starting rotations: it’s as front loaded as anything. The Marlins’ starters have a 3.71 ERA as a group, but the front three of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez have a combined 2.49 ERA, while Chris Volstad and Javier Vazquez have a combined for a 6.29 ERA. If there is any area for Fish Faithful (not to be confused with the somewhat more numerous and certainly more glossy eyed Phish Phaithful) to be worried, it’s the last two spots in the rotation, as there really isn’t anyone for the Marlins to replace them with: Their pitching depth is suspect, and they don’t have the prospects to make a trade.

Two game series, just Monday and Tuesday. Game 1 starter Josh Johnson has a 1.63 ERA, but some of his success is fueled by a .219 batting average on balls in play. Since 1962, just 11 pitchers have been able to sustain a BABIP that low for an entire season (out of 4,142 possible full seasons), so it’s a good bet that a few more hits start falling in and that ERA rises a bit. Ricky Nolasco starts Game 2 on Tuesday, and, as always, has shown good control and a propensity for allowing the long ball this season.

Bench:
C – Brett Hayes – R
IF – Greg Dobbs – R
IF – Wes Helms – R
IF – Osvaldo Martinez – R
OF – Scott Cousins – L

Again, depth is not the Marlins’ strength. Short of losing left fielder Logan Morrison for a few weeks, their key players have been almost totally healthy – this probably being the biggest reason they’re 7 games over .500. They are a young and presumably spry team, so it’s not totally luck that they’ve been this injury-free, but losing any starter could become a huge problem. Anyhow, Greg Dobbs now finds himself in a semi-platoon with the switch-hitting Emilio Bonifaco at third base, even though they both hit lefties better than righties, so he might start a game. Fact: Osvaldo Martinez backwards is Zenitram Odlavso.

Bullpen:
RHP – Leo Nunez
LHP – Michael Dunn
RHP – Ryan Webb
RHP – Edward Mujica
LHP – Randy Choate
RHP – Brian Sanches
RHP – Burke Badenhop

2.56 ERA for this group, trailing only the Padres for the NL lead, but there are all sorts of bells and whistles indicating they’re not going to be this good forever. They have walked 51 batters in 112.2 innings, putting them in the bottom five for walk rates among NL bullpens. They’re also not missing bats, with the third-lowest strikeout rate. What they do have going for them is the lowest batting average against and the lowest batting average on balls in play against, the sort of numbers that would be records if they stood for an entire season. But unless they really are a record setting bunch, it’s more likely that those batting averages against are going to rise. If the Marlins’ relievers don’t stop walking people, all of a sudden there’s going to be a lot more baserunners. Lefty Michael Dunn, in particular, is a sabermetric timebomb, with a really high walk rate and a really low BABIP. If the nerdy guy in your fantasy league tries to trade Dunn to you, don’t do it.

And those were some things to know about the Florida Marlins.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Things to Know about the Florida Marlins

  1. Wouldn’t you know it…a freeekin two game series and we have to face Johnson & Nolasco….geeze..

    We go 0-2 and then the Yankees???

  2. “Believe it or not, they can this year.”

    With all due respect, Patrick, I don’t believe it. Perhaps they’ve improved from the disaster they used to be, but I think they’re still below-average and have just hit a good stretch of luck.

    • Patrick Flood

      Well, here’s my reasoning: so far this season, the Marlins are fifth in baseball defensive efficiency (.728) and fourth in park-adjusted defensive efficiency. They have replaced Dan Uggla with Omar Infante at second, which must be the biggest boost. But Mike Stanton is a good right fielder and playing a full season, and no one seems to be complaining about Chris Coghlan in center. There aren’t any big holes anywhere, which is why I think they’re at least average and maybe a bit better. But it could just be a stretch of luck, as you’ve said.

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