By: Jaden Taylor
The Miami Marlins this past year have been a team seemingly spiraling out of control. Although partnering owner Derek Jeter exclaims he has a plan for the future many fans feel like it’s just another failing fire sale. The Marlins this year have met that expectation with so far the second worst record in the National League at 53-79 and don’t look to be coming out of the basement anytime soon. With these struggles, the team is on pace for not only the worst attendance ratings in the MLB but the worst attendance rating in franchise history, even with more home games than any other team to this point(68). Currently, the Marlins get an average paid attendance, including the fans who paid and didn’t show up, of 10,054 people. The average attendance at Marlins Park this season is over four thousand worse than Tropicana Field(14,957 per game) the next lowest attended park and over four times as less as the top 3 attended parks in Dodger Stadium(46,825 per game), Yankee Stadium(43,348 per game) and Busch Stadium(42,261 per game). In as large of a town that Miami is if the Marlins aren’t winning the fans don’t have any interest much like the other teams, even when they finished second in the National League East and only three spots out of the wild card. In fact, all three of the Dolphins, Heat, and Panthers have dropped drastically in attendance in recent years in sight of somewhat mediocre play. Now with these low attendance rates, the team is barely able to sustain itself and it’s core values, showing with the third lowest payroll in baseball. With the team's many fire sales, horrible contracts, bad trades and some unexpected tragedies the team has put themselves into a far, far whole. But here we would like to see the what if of the Marlins team and how well It could do as a financially stable team and the truly stacked lineup the team would have. For this what if we’re gonna keep in the restraints of transactions and players after the 2008 season. Sorry, all of the Miguel Cabrera fans out there but the Marlins didn’t just star talent in the All-Star 1st and 3rd baseman but also lost multiple talents in who they received.
2. Dan Straily
Dan Straily is a strong piece to the Marlins that they picked up from the Reds to keep some kind of rotation depth. So far Straily has done very well for the Marlins even if his W-L record doesn’t show it. Straily has kept an even point of letting up around 8 hits per nine and striking out just around 8 batters per nine. Although the Marlins keep Straily they did let go of possible future star in Luis Castillo in the trade, a non abundant home grown pitcher who could soon become an ace for the Reds.
3. Wade Leblanc
Leblanc is currently having an amazing year with the Seattle Mariners as their number 3 starter and has kept his hit rating down to 8.0 per game. Leblanc played a year and a half with the Marlins and was later in June of 2013 picked off of waivers by the Houston Astros for money expenses. Leblanc is a consistent lefty who had his two best years of his career so far with the Marlins stats wise with a 3.67 ERA and 1.70 FIP. Leblanc if not traded would be a large help for the Marlins pitching staff.
4. Anibal Sanchez
Anibal Sanchez the underrated righty was with the Marlins for a long stint with the solid Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Dontrelle Willis surrounding him. In 2012 he was traded to the Detroit as the Marlins needed to cut payroll from the money they had wasted on José Reyes and a new stadium. Anibal the next year had the best ERA in the American League at 2.57, has lowered his hits per 9 to 8.1 and grown his strikeouts per nine to 8.5 after leaving the Marlins. He is currently the #4 starter on the Braves roster and an excellent year.
5. Henderson Alvarez
Alvarez was traded to the Marlins along Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Descalfani, Jeff Mathis and 3 other minor league prospects for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and cash to be able to open up space with the large contract of failing Jose Reyes. Over three years Alvarez stayed as the number 2 starter behind Jose Fernandez and was solid throughout his time and was an All Star in 2014. Through his time with the Marlins he had a FIP of 3.47 and a WHIP of 1.22. Sense being let go into Free Agency in 2015 hasn’t been as solid as he was with the Marlins he has had his issues with shoulder injuries which have put him away from the game. If the Marlins hadn’t let Alvarez go he would easily would’ve been able to pick up a 5 spot in the rotation and be consistent.
Other notable pickups
Wei-Yin Chen- With or without Jose Fernandez’s death the Marlins needed to pick up some starting pitching help and Chen was a notable option who was affordable. As long as he gets the number of long balls down he would easily be able to stay in the main rotation or get a #1 or #2 spot n AAA New Orleans.
Jarlin Garcia- Garcia has been on and off with the Marlins so far but looks to be improving and could also be put into the main rotation when needed. He just needs a year or two to developed.
Jose Ureña- Jose even with his confrontations with Ronald Acuña is a stellar young right handed pitcher with lots of potential. He keeps the number of home runs down and a has lowered his WHIP within the past year. At 26 he has lots of potential to become a solid right handed starter.
CL Andrew Miller- Miller was a pickup in the Miguel Cabrera trade from the Tigers and was originally slotted as a Starter which was a desperate need for the Marlins who were getting rid of their high contracted players. With the Marlins he had a 5.89 ERA over three years and after being traded away became one of the scariest relievers in the game. If only the Marlins put him in the bullpen sooner.
SU Brad Hand- Hand was a strong force in the bullpen but couldn’t seem to ever pull off a save. Through his 5 years in Miami he kept a FIP of 4.54 and only completed 1 single save. In April of 2016 Brad Hand was picked up by the Padres and sense has become a strong reliever and has made multiple all star game appearances.
SU Steve Cishek- Cishek was the Marlins dominant closer over a six year period. With his submarine type throwing motion he was easily able to deceive hitters and get them to swing at god-awful pitches. Through his time with the Marlins he kept a FIP of 2.69 had a WHIP at 1.22 and racked up 94 saves. However in 2015 his stats blundered a little bit and the Marlins couldn’t keep up with his contract and traded him away for Kyle Barraclough who is another reliever but hasn’t done his deserved work with the Marlins. After being traded back and forth Cishek now resides in Chicago where he has helped the Cubs rise up to the best record in the National League.
MR AJ Ramos- Ramos was another solid bullpen piece the Marlins surrounded by Hand and Cishek. Before being traded away in 2017 to the Mets for small prospects Ramos a FIP of 3.24 and had earned himself 92 saves over 6 years, Ramos if not been traded would’ve helped the Marlins keep a solid fastball pitcher.
MR Carter Capps- Capps along with Cishek was a pickup to deceive. With his hop step motion hitters weren’t able to pick up the ball, no matter what pitch came at them. Capps was acquired via trade from the Mariners for a 3rd round draft pick. In his 2 years Capps had the best stint of his career keeping a FIP of 1.59 had a WHIP of 0.95 and struck out an average of 14.6 batters per nine innings. In 2015 the Marlins needed to get rid of Jarred Coast and his contact and ended up trading Capps along with Coast and two minor league prospects to the Padres fro cheaper paid Andrew Cashier, Tyron Guerrero, Colin Rea and cash. He would jump around from the minor league and major league clubs in the Padres organization but at only 26 years old he has loads of potential.
MR Nick Wittgren- Wittgren is another homegrown talent drafted in 2012 by the Marlins. He is a working ground-ball pitcher who can work his way out of a jam. With a FIP of 3.11 he isn’t near a closer but still can help with depth on the Marlins roster.
MR Drew Steckenrider- Steckenrider is another middle reliever who is homegrown being drafted in the 8th round in 2012. He’s a lot like Wittgren as he’s able to work out of jams in necessary times. He’s kept a FIP of 3.28 and strikes out and average of 11.8 batters per nine innings. He is still currently apart of the Marlins and a violent force for the Marlins bullpen.
LR Adam Conley- Conley like Miller was originally a starter who moved to the bullpen. The Marlins like most teams would easily need an 8 man bullpen to keep in need of later injuries and just overall pitching depth. Conley has been in the Marlins organization sense the start of his career and as a starter did decent yet still had some difficulty in stamina. Sense being put into his bullpen his WHIP has dropped almost 400 points and has already scored two saves so far this year even with being the teams long reliever.
C JT Realmuto- A young all star Catcher who can only get better. Realmuto is a young Catching star which is hard to come by in the majors. At 27 he is a very valuable piece who can hit for average and still consistently hit for power. This year he is hitting .282/.344/.486 which is only behind behind veteran all star Buster Posey.
1B Justin Bour- Bour is a consistent power-hitting first baseman who in 2017 made the Home Run Derby. Your was picked up in the Rule 5 draft from the Cubs in 2013 and although struggling this season he has multiple years with .270+ average with 20+ home runs. At 30 years old he’s a current veteran who can mash balls into the right field bleachers yet still consistently get on base. On August 10th Bour was traded away with cash to the Philadelphia Phillies to free up space on the minimal amount of money the Marlins could spend on him.
2B Dee Gordon- Gordon was traded away in last offseason trade spree to free up cash to the Mariners for a few minor league prospects after having a solid three years with the Marlins winning the batting title in 2015 and stealing the most bases in the National League in both 2015(58) and 2017(60). His defensive skill adds to the value he put on the Marlins with a Fielding Percentage of .984 over his few years with the Marlins. Although when acquiring Gordon the Marlins did lose valuable players in Austin Barnes, Andrew Heaney and Kike Hernandez the all around presence of Gordon out at second and at the plate surpasses the presence of those three players and could easily have caused a loss in other tar talent including JT Realmuto.
3B Brian Anderson- Anderson so far this year has become a rookie sensation for the Marlins. He’s played both 3B and RF this year and has played stellar defense all around not to mention the bat he holds in his hands. Anderson is currently third in National League Rookie of the Year behind Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto. Brian Anderson hitting .276/.357/.402 and only at 25 has lots of potential for the future.
SS Adeiny Hechavarria- Hechavarria while not a consistent star like many of the other players on this list Hech is a solid defensive Shortstop with range out of his mind. He was picked up in the trade with Henderson Alvarez from the Toronto Blue Jays was immediately a defensive presence out at shortstop and once Dee Gordon joined the club the connections seemed to be unreal. In his time with the Marlins he turned 351 double plays placing in the top 5 three straight years as a Marlins in turning two. With that he has kept a .984 and was third in the least amount of errors committed at SS in 2013 with the Marlins. Although not always the most consistent at the plate he batted .255/.292/.336 throughout his 5 years with the Marlins before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for a solid prospect in Braxton Lee who has been in s controversial state of if he’ll become a bust.
LF Marcell Ozuna- Although starting his career with the Marlins in center Ozuna has an explosive offensive piece to the Marlins in combining in what was and could’ve still been the most explosive outfield in the majors if the Marlins had not gutted the team in the teams recent fire sale. In 2017 Ozuna although in the shadows of Giancarlo Stanton’s mashing of balls was having the best year of his career hitting .312 and hitting a massive 37 home runs, third best among National League batters. Ozuna if not been traded arguable could’ve had an even better year in 2018 than 2017 although he hasn’t shown as much pop with the Cardinals as he did with the Marlins. Ozuna although being traded for needed pitching prospects has been paid over 2 and half times as much money and hasn’t produced nowhere near as much as he did with the Marlins organization.
CF Christian Yelich- Baby face Yelich has become an even bigger star with the Brewers than with the Marlins. Yelich was another piece of the huge fire sale of last offseason and was sent away for struggling prospects Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison and Lewis Brinson who haven’t shown as much progress as predicted. Yelich currently hitting .309/.372/.533 this year is having the best year of his career while still only being 26. In my opinion Yelich was the most all around valuable piece of last years fire sale as he hasn’t had a single year under .280 and had a WAR of 10.1 over 5 years with the Marlins while still progressing. Yelich as well as being a force behind the plate has consistently seemed to come in clutch when needed out in the outfield. Yelich in his time with the Marlins had .991 fielding percentage and had 19 outfield assists. Yelich was a consistent all around OF who can only get better at the age of 26.
RF Giancarlo Stanton- Stanton had an MVP 2017 season and can also be arguably the most valuable piece in the fire sale last offseason. Stanton has been able to hit bombs his entire career as long as he doesn’t fall for a slider. Stanton was first in Home Runs in the National League both in 2014 and 2017 and led in slugging percentage in 2012, 2014 and 2017. In his 8 years with the Marlins Stanton batted .268/.360/.554 shoeing he still can get on base through walks and hits. Stanton although not not having as great if a year as he did in last years demolishment of pitchers is still having a decent year with the stacked Yankees but if you believe that he isn’t doing as well cause he “is actually surrounded by talent,” you are absolutely wrong. Stanton was surrounded by stars of Ozuna, Yelich, Realmuto, Gordon and Bour not to mention the star bullpen to add onto it and while his contract was very high he put a value on the Marlins that didn’t just mean winning ballgames. It put people in seats and put more money into the organization. Fernandez and many others had a passion and expression of fun that brought people into the park and watch the team play, no matter the score of the game. He brought people to the games and if not been traded for scraps would’ve kept it that way.
C Jeff Mathis- Mathis was also picked up in the trade with Hechavarria and Alvarez and in his 4 years kept the backup role behind AJ Ellis and then JT Realmuto. He hit .195/.252/.292 and was never anything more than a backup but could play the role very well when Realmuto or Ellis needed a day or two off. The Marlins don’t have a long line of star catchers, Pudge not included, in their 25 years as an organization but Mathis is one who could consistently work behind the plate and could fill in for other players.
IF Miguel Rojas- Rojas was added in the trade from the Dodgers with Dee Gordon and can play any spot in the infield. Rojas like Hech is a strong defensive player who still can get some pop off the bat. Rojas more than likely would not quite platoon with Hech but play a consistent 25 or so games there. With his current 4 years with the Marlins Rojas has hit .267/.320/.357 and has had a surprisingly WAR of 3.1 this season. Rojas is another underrated player who can be consistent in the batters box and in the field.
OF Cameron Maybin- Maybin was that other piece in the Miguel Cabrera trade. Although Jake Marisnick came up many times as a Marlin he was traded away to the Dodgers in a deal that included Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas. Maybin however has been apart of the Marlins two separate times and both times were traded away for cash. Over his four year time span Maybin was went back and forth in platoon roles out in right field and never stated a claim as a starter. Although never truly being a starter with the Marlins Maybin hit .255/.328/.375 with a 3.2 WAR which is solid for a platoon right fielder. After the 2010 season Maybin was traded to the San Diego Padres for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb which would both be on different teams within a three year time span. Maybin would be mover around a lot and would come back this season after granting for free agency. Right before the deadline he was traded to the Mariners for a small prospect and much needed cash and is currently their backup LF.
UTL Derek Dietrich- Derek Dietrich is an amazing utility player who can be spotted anywhere on the diamond and still be solid offensively and defensively. Derek in 6 years has played every position accept Shortstop, which was the position he was drafted as, Center Fielder, Catcher and Pitcher. He was grabbed from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 for Yunel Escobar and has stayed on the Marlins ever sense. He has hit .255/336/.424. Him slugging .424 isn’t just extraordinary among utility players but among most batters in baseball. Dietrich also has been in the top 10 three different years in the National League in Hit by pitches and even was at the top of the leaderboard in 2016. With his high slugging and extreme ability to get hit by pitches and play different positions he is also a superb defense player who had the 3rd best fielding percentage among National League Left Fielders. With his many attributes Dietrich is easily a stable guy on a 25 man roster whether it’s in the field everyday or filling in in times of need.
This team could easily stay consistent throughout the year and put themselves in a spot to at least make the wild card if not push for the franchises first division championship. With the star power at the plate, the underrated yet consistent rotation who have multiple guys behind them in times of injury including Wei Yin Chen, Jarlin Garcia and Jose Ureña added to the star young bullpen and the solid bench this team has the ability to win games and finish out games when needed. The Marlins also do still have multiple home grown prospects including Trevor Rogers, Braxton Garrett, Dillon Peters, Garrett Cooper, Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards who weren’t apart of the multiple fire sales this team had went through. Now with the random luck of baseball many teams with good solid squads may not end up as well as projected and sometimes teams with not as solid squads be better than projected. All of these players within the list have connected to play within the same organization as one another and most players who were traded away were in need of cash to be able to sustain the growth of the ball club yet truly stepping back from the original maturity. Fundamentally stable teams easily have the money to spend on good caliber players and are consistently able to be in contention for the playoffs while most low market teams pick up the scraps of what they can afford and try to put the best team together they could. Now with the Marlins becoming a fundamentally stable team how do you think they would do?