Miami Marlins 2017 Team Preview

2016 Recap: 79-82, 3rd in the NL East. The Marlins were frisky during most of the 2016 season and were buyers at the trade deadline for the first time in a long time. The team fell off in early September just before tragedy struck when super ace Jose Fernandez passed away just before the season ended. The loss of Fernandez on the field is obvious, but I still think it will take awhile for a team to get over something like that. I’m really worried about Miami this season.

Offseason Moves:

Significant Additions: C AJ Ellis, RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Dan Straily, RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Junichi Tazawa, LHP Jeff Locke

Significant Subtractions: RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Andrew Cashner

Projected Lineup and Breakdown:

  1. 2B Dee Gordon
  2. LF Marcell Ozuna
  3. CF Christian Yelich
  4. RF Giancarlo Stanton
  5. 1B Justin Bour
  6. C JT Realmuto
  7. 3B Derek Dietrich
  8. SS Adeiny Hechavarria

On paper this is a lineup that should be able to score runs. Unfortunately for the Marlins we do not play this game on paper and Miami finished 13th out of 15 teams in the N.L. in runs scored due in large part to injuries and suspensions to key players. Dee Gordon was suspended for PED’s and Giancarlo Stanton missed over 30 games for the fourth time in the last five seasons and the Marlins lineup had no chance when the two of them were out of the lineup. The Marlins did get career seasons from both Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich as they have the looks of a very good young outfield for many years to come. After those top four hitters it gets a little dicey, JT Realmuto has emerged as one of the better hitting catchers in the league after hitting .303 last season, but the Marlins backstop offers league average at best power. Justin Bour is someone who is maddening for Marlins fans as he has become unplayable against lefties. Bour has 39 career home runs, zero of which have come against left handed pitching. If Bour cannot figure out how to at least contribute something against southpaws the Marlins should and probably will start looking elsewhere.

Projected Rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:

Rotation –

  • LHP Wei-Yin Chen
  • RHP Edinson Volquez
  • LHP Adam Conley
  • RHP Dan Straily
  • RHP Tom Koehler

Bullpen –

  • RHP AJ Ramos – Closer
  • RHP Brad Ziegler
  • RHP Junichi Tazawa
  • RHP Kyle Barraclough
  • RHP David Phelps

There’s really not a lot to see here. It hurts me to say that because it’s not entirely Marlins management’s fault, but this pitching staff is the definition of mediocrity. Three (Volquez, Chen, Koehler) of their projected starters are 30 or older and have very little upside. Although there is reason to believe Wei-Yin Chen can at least return to the mid 3’s ERA he posted in Baltimore after he dealt with injury and some possible bad luck as opposing hitters hit over .300 on balls in play in 2016 after having a .290 BABIP during his career in hitter friendly Camden Yards Chen could benefit from some positive regression. Dan Straily had a nice season in Cincy last season but could be due for some negative regression after he was able to post a respectable 3.76 ERA despite giving up a league high 31 home runs. It’s possible Straily and Chen end up essentially canceling each other out. This bullpen has the potential to be the strength of this team with veterans Ziegler and Tazawa join an already solid group led by 26 year old Kyle Barraclough (yes his name is pronounced bear-a-claw and that might be the best thing about this Miami team) who struck out 113 batters in 72.2 innings. Not having an established lefty reliever could end up limiting this group’s upside, but it should still be one of the better unit’s in the National League.

Fantasy Analysis:

Stud: OF Giancarlo Stanton. It might be a little extreme to call Stanton a stud with all the injuries he has dealt with in his career that have kept him out of fantasy lineups. However the Marlins do not have much to offer and when healthy, Stanton puts up huge power numbers. For his career Stanton averages 41 home runs per 162 games played proving what many people believe that he has the most raw power in the game today. For the first time in a few years Stanton is coming at a slight discount going in the third round of most drafts, the value is there the question is can you stomach the risk as a fantasy owner.

Sleeper: SP Adam Conley. In 36 big league starts over the last two season Conley has posted a solid 3.82 ERA and struck out nearly a batter per inning (183 k’s in 200.1 innings) the reason the majority of those starts have been on the waiver wire in most league is Conley just cannot seem to keep the walks under control (4.19/9 innings) leading to some real blow up starts (5 starts with 5 or more ER in 2016). If Conley can ever get the walks under control there could really be something here as he has really good stuff, I have my doubts on if that will ever happen however. Conley is going currently as the 89th starter off the board draft a price I’m willing to pay in the late rounds to see if he can finally get things to click.

Bust: OF Christian Yelich. Yelich has always been known for his ability to hit for a high average (.293 career) and his ability to steal bases. What Yelich never really offered was a lot of power, that changed in 2016 as Yelich belted 21 home runs despite having just 20 in his career entering last season. Power was up around the league so that type of jump can be said for a lot of players, but most of those players aren’t currently going as the 13th outfielder off the board. At that draft price Yelich’s power needs to be real and although I’m a Yelich fan I’m not sure anyone can guarantee that is the case.

2017 record prediction: The Marlins are heading in the wrong direction in a division of teams heading in the right direction. They have nothing of note in the minor leagues and their major league team is full of holes at every level. It could be a long summer in South Beach. 67-95. Last in the NL East.

-Randy Haines

Check out our other 2017 team previews here.

Photo credit: Richard Mackson/USA Today

Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs

Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 3/21

Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC

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