Spring Fling / Give Him a Ring / Leave Him Crying: NL East Edition

Miami Marlins lolCOLORS!!!


Jose Fernandez – SP

Even with the season-ending Tommy John surgery, I’m making Jose my honorary Fling.  At just 22 years old, Fernandez was on pace for a Cy-worthy season.  Once he’s healthy, I’ll be in the long line of savvy fans predicting a big year.


Marcell Ozuna – OF

Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images

Part of me really just wanted to celebrate Christian Yelich, who, at just 22 years old, has already grown into something of a stud for the Marlins. His .365 BABIP screams “lucky” on the surface, but a closer inspection shows a player that has historically posted absurdly high BABIP at every professional level at which he has spent significant time. In short, Yelich may really just be this good, and he might have too much staying power to be a true fling (though he has the misfortune of competing with Mikey Stanton for ring consideration).

No, I want to celebrate a performance that strikes me more as a streaking comet – one that is burning relatively brightly, but does not figure to become a perennial celestial figure in my BABIPy or HR/FBy sky. I am talking about the only hitter named “Marcell” to ever play big league baseball: Mr. Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna rose through the ranks while demonstrating likable power at every prolonged minor league stop (that is, for more than a handful of games). His defense received positive reviews – both in minors and during his 90-day trial period in 2013. Well… this bad look notwithstanding.

The question entering 2014 was whether or not he could provide bankable production – especially power production – in centerfield while still providing useful defense.

Mission accomplished. In 2014, anyway.

The defense has been, at times, absolutely spectacular. Sometimes, he simply cannot help but provide more spectacular than one game can handle (plays of interest start at 1’26”)

The power has shown up – at least, somewhat surprisingly, at home (Marlins Park is murder on power numbers for everyone not named “Giancarlo”) – and traditional counting stats such as R, RBI, and HR suggest he’s been a solid-if-unspectacular contributor. However, Ozuna’s lust for power has also seen a huge spike in strikeouts. Unless he makes a conscious change to his approach, issues like “fewer line drives,” “more flyballs,” and “more groundballs” (all trends in his batted ball profile) will likely erode his batted ball luck rather quickly – something his relative paucity of balls actually put into play can scarcely absorb. Ozuna has been fun to watch and provided a little thunder with his two-cheek swings, but it says here that working hard and living hard catch up to him unless he slows down.


Giancarlo Stanton – OF  

CBS Sports
CBS Sports

A sleeper MVP candidate, Giancarlo’s 5th major league season has been a masterpiece.  Stanton remains one of the scariest sluggers on the planet, evidenced by his league-leading 24 Intentional Walks this year.  Despite the strategy to pitch around him at all costs, Giancarlo has incredibly managed to also lead the league in Home Runs as well, with 37.  With seasons like this, the 24-year-old is the only choice for a Ring on a scrappy Marlins squad.


Giancarlo “Mikey” Stanton – Hulking Monstrosity

WELP. Mikey Stanton won’t be finishing the year with us. I give no craps – he is far and away the best Marlins marriage candidate, and he was a prohibitive NL MVP front-runner at the time of his injury (while I would actually support a “Jonathan Lucroy for NL MVP” campaign, the world is not ready).

On some level, Mikey is a fling. It is downright shocking that Stanton is still a Marlin given their organizational loathing of locking up assets. Don’t get me wrong – Stanton is an absolutely incredible player; the Marlins just don’t do marriage – they do rent-an-escort. For his part, Stanton appears to have had his fill of South Beach ball – years of watching a team get gutted for pithy financial reasons does probably wear on a soul. However, just because the Marlins are… well… the Marlins are kinda stupid, but that doesn’t mean that WE can’t get down on one knee for Stanton. After all, Stanton is the guy EVERYONE wants their team to marry.

Everyone knows about the gargantuan power…

…wait, you were unaware that Stanton has astonishing power?

…the Sultan Titan of Swat… 

…Barry Lamar Stanton.

Here’s what really captures the imagination, though – Stanton doesn’t really make compromises in the other facets of his game. Yes, he does strike out more than the average hitter, but one would really expect a player of such immense power to strike out quite a bit more (ahem). While he will never challenge for a batting title, Stanton’s career .271 AVG is appreciably better than the .258 AVG the MLB has posted as a whole since 2010. The threat of Stanton’s superlative power has caused at least a pitcher or two to avoid challenging him, and Stanton has responded with admirable patience (career 12.0 BB% is roughly 50% better than league average) – Stanton, it could be said, is good at NOT using up outs (.364 career OBP, .395 OBP in 2014). While he is not a truly excellent baserunner, he does not really syphon value on the basepaths the way some big-bodied sluggers do (AHEM) – he even stole 13 bases and was caught just once in 2014. Depending on your fielding metric of choice, he is either an average or a slightly-above-average right fielder with a fairly average right field arm. None of these things probably sound especially exciting, but in so far as there really is no single thing in baseball at which Stanton is terrible, one can accurately state that “there is nothing he cannot do” (pitching notwithstanding, of course… probably). Given how incredible his one true asset is (his AVERAGE home run travels 415 feet… good gravy, dude), Stanton is a pretty electrifying contributor to a winning effort. Oh, and he is kinda adorable.


Jeffrey Loria – POS  

CBS Sports
CBS Sports

Boy, the evidence really starts to pile up when you realize Loria, (Phillies GM) Ruben Amaro Jr., and (Mets GM) Sandy Alderson are all looking up in the same division to an organization run like the Braves, huh?  I’d bottle Loria’s tears and sell them to angry Miami taxpayers, but I’m pretty sure he’s a malfunctioning robot.


A.J. Ramos – RP

Alex Brandon, Associated Press
Alex Brandon, Associated Press



We’ll keep this short and call it a wager. I wager that between now and one year from now, A.J. Ramos will not be on the Marlins’ 25 man roster – perhaps any team’s 25 man roster. Why? Ramos’s itty-bitty .241 BABIP will regress towards something closer to .280 or .290 (a bad thing), his impossibly low 0.15 HR/9 will probably regress towards something closer to at least 0.6 as his flyball and HR/FB rates regress back to comparably less desirable places (even in that big yard), and his stranded runners percentage regresses, oh, 10% or so. None of those things are good things. All of those things are made much worse when one walks hitters at an ever-increasing rate (Ramos walked an already below-average 10% of batters in 2012 – a figure that grew to 12.7% in 2013 and has ballooned to an absolutely catastrophic 16.1% in 2014). Yes, the guy can miss bats (26.5% career strikeout rate), but drastic losses in velocity do not necessarily bode well for his prospects of continuing to do so in the future. In short, I see lots of baserunners in his future, and I see the ratio gods ceasing to smile on him as he tries to strand them. Regression is swift, regression is efficient, and regression is without mercy.

Who did we miss? What did we get wrong? Post your Marlins picks in the comments section below.

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