After one of the worst months in the history of baseball, the Marlins needed a nice solid set of victories against the Texas Rangers to really kickstart what will hopefully be a somewhat successful July. The team did just that by taking two of three from the Rangers at Arlington, an impressive feat given the fact that Texas leads their respective division and the Marlins did the deed with their offense leading the way.
Series Hero: Hanley Ramirez (0.368 WPA)
Series Goat: Anibal Sanchez (-0.295 WPA)
Impressed by: Hanley Ramirez (13 PA, 4 H, 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 K)
Depressed by: Anibal Sanchez (3 2/3 IP, 7 R, 4 K, 4 BB, 1 HR)
Hanley Ramirez Sighting
For Marlins fans like myself who have clamored for patience with regards to Ramirez, this weekend was a sight of sore eyes. We have all been waiting for that Ramirez breakout game, and his three-for-five affair on Saturday evening that included two home runs might just have been the spark for which we were searching. The Marlins offense has been simply surviving without Ramirez actively involved, either when he was hurt or simply ineffective. To see him bust out with a game like that felt like vindication, even if it was only one evening.
Ramirez’s first home run was a simple 385-foot shot to right field, with the only thing particularly impressive about being the fact that it was a grand slam off of starter Derek Holland. That put the Marlins up 4-0 early and gave the Fish an added 16.6 percent chance of winning the game. You can hear it in the way Rich Waltz made that call that a lot of Marlins observers were relieved to see a positive event like that occur.
Yeah, the opposite field homer was nice, but it barely cleared the fence in Texas. You know what was even nicer to see? This home run in the seventh inning of a game that had gotten a bit closer since that time. Sure, this one did not “matter” as much, as it only added a 7.9 percent chance of winning to the Fish, but it felt good to see Ramirez strike another ball out of the park, this one being more well-struck than the previous shot. That blast went 408 feet and was out as soon as you heard it off his bat; left fielder Josh Hamilton had to simply watch it go by. The Marlins followed that up with another homer by Logan Morrison and maintained a four-run lead, parlaying that into a 9-5 victory. But nothing was sweeter than to watch Ramirez hit those two homers out.
The truth is that Ramirez is on a bit of a hot streak. Through Saturday’s game, he was hitting .385/.429/.667 with three homers and two doubles. It is a pretty impressive run, but ultimately it serves as more catharsis than predictive power; Ramirez isn’t that good and won’t continue to hit at that pace, but it is always nice to see your superstar athlete actually performing for a change. The Marlins are going to need more of that performance to remain successful.
Vazquez Velocity Update
As the season wears on, it looks as if Vazquez is actually getting stronger, which sounds paradoxical. A little more than a month ago, I declared him dead in the water baseball-wise, and yet he has since pulled off a run of 50 innings with a 4.14 ERA and a 4.31 FIP. Now, neither of those numbers in particularly impressive, but remember what we figured to get out of him at the beginning of the year:
I had Vazquez projected at a 4.35 ERA, which in 185 innings pitched would be worth about 2.0 WAR.
With the run environment a bit depressed, a 4.35 ERA would certainly not be worth two wins this season, but that is not the point. This is around the performance level I expected from Vazquez, and the fact that he is now putting it up thanks to a mini-revival of his fastball velocity is a good thing. He has averaged close to 91 mph since May 21 and that is right around the level at which he was pitching in 2008 and 2009. This does not mean he will achieve anywhere close to similar results, but it is yet again another positive sign that points towards the Marlins getting a competent Vazquez for the remainder of the season.