Due to extenuating circumstances, I did not get to do the review at the same time I did it last year, but I think that either way, the important thing is that the second annual Marlin Maniac Midseason Review gets done. This year, we’ll take care of it during the All-Star break and all of its festivities.
Current Record: 42-46
Runs Scored-Runs Allowed: 404-384
Run Differential: +20
Pythagorean Expected W-L: 46-42
Runs Scored: 404
Team Slash Line: .262/.325/.401
Team wOBA: .322
This year’s crop of Marlins, in terms of first-half performance, is very intriguing. In years past, the Marlins have outperformed a middling Pythagorean record by a few games; just witness last season’s 87-75 mark despite a more paltry 81-81 Pythagorean record. This year, it would seem quite the opposite. Rather than outperform our expectations, we are underperforming them. I actually don’t remember a Marlins team this deep into the season that was this far ahead in terms of run differential. Only two teams in Marlins history have ever even been 20 or more runs over in differential by the end of the season, the 1997 and 2003 World Series teams. So it is an oddity to see this Marlins team play well in terms of run differential and still struggle in terms of actual W-L record.
Best Performer: Hanley Ramirez
Ramirez beats out double play partner Dan Uggla by a hair, though neither player is performing the way they are supposed to or were expected to. While Uggla is sporting a .335 BABIP and a weak .199 ISO, both of which look very strange for him, Ramirez is just recovering from a season-long “slump” that has his batting line “only” at .301/.381/.485. As I’ve mentioned before, many shortstops would kill for that kind of batting line, but for Ramirez, that and its accompanying .378 wOBA are mere chump change.
Ramirez’ struggles that have led to a below-.400 wOBA (he reached the .400 wOBA mark in each of the past three seasons) primarily involve a lack of power, as easily seen in his .184 ISO. Part of that low ISO (if the season ended today, it would be the lowest of his career) is the career high groundball rate; Ramirez is pounding worm burners at a 53.6% clip. That should regress, and with more balls in the air should come more power for Hanley in the future. Still, even this level of production isn’t bad; FanGraphs has him at 2.7 WAR at this point in the year, and with ZiPS’ favorable rest of season projections (.315/.390/.524, .403 wOBA), a 5-WAR campaign is not out of reach.
Worst Performer: Cameron Maybin
Maybin was supposed to come out this season and be a sparkplug at the top of the lineup alongside Chris Coghlan. What ended up happening is that both players fizzled out early in the season, and Maybin was unable to go on the same sort of tear Coghlan went on to compensate. Before essentially being demoted for Mike Stanton, Maybin had hit just .225/.290/.341, displaying no power (.115 ISO) and still showing the same strikeout problems he had last year (28.0% K%).
At this stage of his development, Maybin may be close to forgotten in terms of prospect status. He has now fallen flat at the beginning of two seasons, with no sign of improvement. Granted, he is still only 23 years old, and he may still have some projection in terms of power, but the strike zone recognition problems remain a hassle. If he cannot fix them in the next season or two, Maybin may reach arbitration before the Marlins see anything in the way of a return.
Key Second-Half Improvement: Mike Stanton
Look, Mike Stanton was never going to come out like gangbusters this season, even after he demolished Double-A pitchers. Still, you had to believe he’d do better than this, right? Well…
Stanton, 2010: .231/.276/.435, .314 wOBA
Stanton, as projected here: .226/.301/.436, .321 wOBA
Now, obviously that was cherry-picked. Today (or rather, at the All-Star break), his line ended up looking conveniently like the projected line I showed a month ago when he first got here. But all Stanton’s work looks reasonable. His strikeouts are huge (37.9%), which we definitely expected. His power is good (.204 ISO), which we also expected. The only interesting thing is his walk rate, which is at 6.0% at the moment. It does not surprise me that his projected rate in the minors does not match up with the rate that we currently see. Based on the early plate discipline numbers, you can tell that Stanton is not only having a hard time making contact (contact rate overall is at a paltry 66.0%), but he’s also finding it hard to identify good pitches (34.0% out of zone swings).
Some of this should correct itself with time. If we are patient with Stanton, you can expect that strikeout rate to drop a bit. And with more contact should come better power numbers as well. Right now, he’s hitting the ball on the ground, but he’ll learn to square it up a bit more and start driving it better with time. I expect a slight improvement due to regression on K% and his plate discipline in terms of swings taken, but you should still expect a line close to the one I initially quoted.