The Marlins more or less put Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson on the shelf. Johnson may actually get a game in at the end of the season given that he finally was able to throw off the mound today as part of his return regiment, but at this point the team would be better off leaving him alone unless he will be making multiple rehab starts on the year. Team doctor Dr. Lee Kaplan suggested shoulder surgery for Ramirez in order to fix his “shoulder instability” resulting from a dive for a batted ball on August 2.
If anyone wants to look for a reason why the Marlins have struggled as much as they have this season, these two players would be the cause. Johnson’s injury robbed the Marlins of what appeared to be the makings of an excellent season. Johnson’s excellent first 60 1/3 innings bought him 1.7 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), and he might have had his best season of his career if he had not suffered through what initially appeared to be a mild case of shoulder inflammation. Ramirez’s injury cut off a run of play that looked like the old Ramirez, but before that run, Ramirez was playing his worst season of his career.
Take a look at the projections of the two players versus what the Marlins got from them:
|Ramirez, Marlin Maniac||675||.305||.381||.496||.387||6.0|
|Johnson, Marlin Maniac||190||2.85||5.9|
|Johnson, 2011||60 1/3||1.67||1.7|
If you consider the team replacing those players with replacement level performers (and given the bevy of players we have used as position players at third base or other positions and as starting pitchers, that would not be a bad assumption), the difference between the actual Marlins performances and what the projections expected is on the order of 8.3 wins above replacement. If the Marlins end the season with their current winning percentage of .446, the team would end the year with a record of 72-90. Consider the lost wins from players like Ramirez and Johnson underperforming and we get an expected record of 80-82 if the team had met expectations. That record would have been quite believable at the beginning of this season. The fact that these two players underperformed their expectations in terms of performance and playing time is the primary culprit to the Marlins’ disappointing 2011 campaign.\n
What about what we can expect next season? It is difficult to tell the prognosis for the two players in 2012. Ramirez has had trade speculation surrounding him, but with the shoulder injury, it is much more likely that the team cannot field capable offers for him and instead ends up just keeping him for 2012. His recent surge after manager Jack McKeon arrived at least yields hope for a positive future for Ramirez, but it is still ultimately difficult to tell what we have now after two straight seasons of below-average (for Ramirez) performances. For Johnson, it is all about the recovery for his injury. According to Baseball Prospectus’s Ben Lindbergh and Corey Dawkins, the lack of previous structural problems with Johnson’s shoulder bodes well for his prognosis going forward, but concern still rages over his health.
Ultimately, the team’s hopes rest mostly on these two players. The emergence of Mike Stanton as a legitimate star in the making (4.0 fWAR season with less than a month left in the season) makes the team a little less dependent on the two superstars, but if the 2012 Marlins are hoping to compete, they will need Ramirez and Johnson at full strength both talent- and health-wise. Here’s hoping for the best.