ZiPS optimistic about Marlins young hitters

A few weeks back, Dan Szymborski posted his ZiPS projections for the Florida Marlins, prior to the team’s flurry of offseason activity. I was surprised to have missed it, but even more (pleasantly) surprised to see some of the numbers within those pages. Check out these lines for some of our young players:

Logan Morrison PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2010 287 .283 .390 .447 .369
Proj. 2011 613 .284 .372 .452 .361
Mike Stanton PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2010 396 .259 .326 .507 .355
Proj. 2011 672 .246 .329 .493 .355

These are the first professional projections that we have seen this offseason, and boy are they interesting. I am quite surprised that ZiPS is so high on these two, undoubtedly two of the most important players of the future of this organization. If the Marlins get this kind of production from these two guys next season, the 2011 season may be more competitive than any of us could have imagined.

Before I delve into what I think, let’s take a look at the remaining starting seven that we know of for sure (I am still holding out in the hopes that the Marlins will make a final acuisition to better fill out their lineup for 2011):

Hanley Ramirez PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2010 619 .300 .378 .475 .373
Proj. 2011 668 .309 .388 .509 .396
Chris Coghlan PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2010 400 .268 .335 .383 .322
Proj. 2011 563 .286 .357 .414 .345
Gaby Sanchez PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2010 643 .273 .341 .448 .346
Proj. 2011 577 .272 .340 .436 .343
Omar Infante PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2010 506 .321 .359 .416 .340
Proj. 2011 400 .300 .348 .402 .332
2010 437 .281 .314 .489 .345
Proj. 2011 377 .251 .305 .434 .323

Despite the somewhat negative things Szymborski said about the Marlins’ offseason moves, the team is shaping up to have a solid offensive setup in the starting lineup. The team is projected to boast only one below average hitter among these seven starters, and that bat belongs to the catcher John Buck, who is more than allowed to be a slight negative on offense given the difficulty of the catching position.

At the same time, I am skeptical of a few of these healthy projections. Morrison and Stanton are clearly in line for regression, yet they show up at very similar wOBA to their 2010 versions. Of course, they are going to improve heading into their second full season in the majors, but by how much? Morrison is being given a projected BB% of 11.9% for 2011, which is certainly a drop from his 14+% rate in limited time last season. He is also being given a very generous .330 BABIP, which I am unsure that he can maintain. At the same time, Stanton is being projected for quite a bit of improvement in his walk rate, up to a projected 10.1%. Last season, Stanton walked in 28 of his final 316 PA (after his terrible first month), and six of those walks were intentional due to his placement in the eighth slot in the lineup. His .326 OBP from 2010 overstates how well he got on base because of those intentional passes, and it is uncertain how teams will develop in terms of strategy against Stanton’s towering power.

Most of the other projections seem very fair, given what we know about the players invovled. Sanchez in particular has an intriguing line in that his 2011 projection is an almost exact replica of his 2010 slash line, and it is quite similar to what most people were expecting of him before the season. Coghlan will be another player the Marlins will keep a close eye on. His projected .286/.357/.414 slash line looks more or less correct, and such an OBP (third highest projected on the team) would be beneficial in his expected leadoff role. The question is whether he can shake off last season’s struggles and return to form as a contact-hitting player with decent patience. Hopefully, a move to yet another position (this time center field) will not adversely affect his gameplay.

Here are how these ZiPS Marlins stack up in terms of projected fWAR, using ZiPS’ offensive projections and my defensive estimates:

Player PA Off runs Def runs WAR
Ramirez 675 +37 -5 6.2
Stanton 610 +13 +6 3.2
Coghlan 670 +8 -5 2.9
Infante 650 +1 +0 2.5
Morrison 640 +17 -7 2.4
Buck 450 -3 -4 1.7
Sanchez 640 +7 +0 1.7

If the Marlins could get replacement level play from the rest of the bench, the team would end up with about 21 wins above replacement for their starting lineup, presuming the lineup got the playing time I estimated here. As a comparison point, the Fish got 17.3 fWAR from their position players last season. For a team that gave up a 5-WAR player in Dan Uggla, the Fish would be able to make much of that value back with defensive improvement and, most crucially, improvement by guys like Stanton and Morrison. The development of those two will be the determining factor for whether or not the Marlins can remain in contention.

Tags: Logan Morrison Miami Marlins Mike Stanton

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