Streaky, streaky Marlins

The Marlins won their fifth straight game last night and stand two games over .500, but David Pinto of Baseball Musings wonders who the real Marlins are.

The most likely explanation for the difference in the number of long streaks is just random luck. Plenty of combinations of wins and losses get a team to two-games over .500, and many of those contain long streaks. On the other hand, long streaks might occur if Florida was in fact a very good team, but sensitive to small perturbations, possibly due to the lack of depth. One or two key players suffering an injury or going into a slump is enough to send the whole team into a tailspin.

…I’m leaning toward the random pattern, as they’ve been outscored by 20 runs this season and own the second best record in the majors in one-run games, 14-8. (Dodgers at 16-8 are the best.) There’s been some luck involved in getting them over .500.

That analysis is fair to assume. As I’ve harped on during my study on marginal dollars (another post to come tomorrow), run differential tells you a lot more about a team than their actual win-loss record. However, I’d venture to say that the Marlins are recouperating from some prolonged early-season slumps. Two players in particular come to mind: Ricky Nolasco and Dan Uggla.

In four starts since coming back from his demotion to Triple-A, Nolasco has the following line:

25 innings, 25 K, 5 BB, 1 HR, 23 H, 8 R (5 ER), 0.90 GB/FB, 66% Strikes

That looks more in line with the type of season Nolasco had last year as opposed to the early campaign he was showing this year. His stuff looks as good as ever, but he’s not getting rocked on balls in play as much and that ridiculously low strand rate has bumped up a bit (up to 56.6% on the season). His initial outings upon returning looked promising, but his last two against Boston and Baltimore were absolutely dominating, the type of stuff we saw in his second half last year. He looks like he might be the 1b starter for the team.

As for Uggla, his June has picked up in the opposite fashion that last year’s June sunk him. In June Uggla is hitting a line similar to last season’s total line, .266/.376/.519, a .389 wOBA. This production is also coming on a .254 BABIP, which is close to the league average for players with 50%+ FB%, as I detailed last week. If his performance can stay at this sort of level or even a bit below that, we’ll have the type of production Uggla should be producing given his new plate approach.

While the Marlins’ current profile and run differential speak ill of their future potential, I think players like Nolasco and Uggla are indeed returning to form and maybe signal a chance to compete. If this can combine with some better personnel being played (we all know who we’re talking about here) and improvement from at least one more starter to around league average, this team can remain in the hunt for the playoffs.

Tags: Dan Uggla Dave Pinto Miami Marlins Ricky Nolasco

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