At the beginning of the season, there was legitimate concern about how bad the Marlins lineup could be in 2013. There were age and durability questions surrounding Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre. Adeiny Hechavarria was not expected to hit much, but stay afloat because of his defense at short stop. Questions were asked if Justin Ruggiano could repeat his 2012 season after being a career quad-A player.
It seemed preseason that this team would be Giancarlo Stanton or bust. When Stanton started off slowly, the team’s offense was severely lagging behind. Now with Stanton out for at least a month with a hamstring issue, the concern is at an all-time high about how bad this Marlins lineup can be.
Here is a look at the lineup that the Marlins ran out the last time Stanton played:
Outside of Stanton and maybe Ruggiano, the Marlins team was lacking a real threat for pitchers to fear in that lineup. In fact, that lineup had just a combined 39 extra base hits in over 700 plate appearances, with a Ruggiano and Stanton combining for 15 of those extra base hits.
It’s no wonder that this lineup struggled to put many runs on the board. The silver lining in this, Stanton has a strong chance to return to a lineup that will be much stronger that the lineup he played with, before the injury.
After Stanton’s injury, the Marlins decided to give outfield prospect Marcell Ozuna a shot in the big leagues. Ozuna had been hitting well in Double-A with the Jacksonville Suns, but mainly got the call up because he was already on the Marlins 40-man roster.
Since being called up, Ozuna has done nothing but hit. He has recorded a hit in each of his six games in the majors and has a slash line of .478/.520/.783. Ozuna has a .552 wOBA and has seven extra base hits, including a home run. Going forward, it will be impossible for Ozuna to sustain his early success, but he could still prove to be an above average major league player in his rookie season, at the ripe age of 22.
In hit limited time in the majors, Ozuna has already been the Marlins best outfielder. If he can keep his head above water when Stanton returns, Ozuna has a decent shot to stick in the majors and take away playing time from Pierre in left.
Marlins top hitting prospect, Christian Yelich, is starting to heat up in the minors as well. Yelich played so well this spring, he almost forced the Marlins hand to start him in the majors. He currently owns a .281/.339/.491 slash line with the Suns. Yelich is currently in the middle of a 12-game hitting streak and if he continues to hit well, he could be in the majors before long as well. Yelich could push Ruggiano to a role he is probably more suited for, as the team’s fourth outfielder.
Another prospect that could be up with the Marlins by when Stanton returns in Derek Dietrich. Derek has hit well so far, with the Suns as well, with a slash line of .296/.420/.531 with 4 home runs. Dietrich could potentially play third or second for the Marlins in the majors, but would probably be an instant offensive improvement over Polanco or the injured Donovan Solano.
While it is highly unlikely, Dietrich could be called up as soon as Monday if the team decides to place Solano on the disabled list.
Returning from Injury:
When Stanton hit the disabled list, short stop Hechavarria was still on the disabled list with a sore arm. Hech has since returned for the Fish and had his best career game yesterday against the Phillies. Hech tied a Marlins record with seven RBI’s yesterday, all of them coming in the first three innings off of Roy Halladay. He hit a bases loaded triple in the first and an opposite field grand slam in the third inning.
Hechavarria’s precence in the lineup is an upgrade over the Marlins starter at short when Stanton went down, in Chris Valaika.
The Miami Marlins expect first baseman Logan Morrison back in mid-June. His return to the lineup will end the apathetic performance the team has received from it’s first baseman early in 2013. The Marlins first baseman in 2013 own a slash line of just .236/.290/.315 with a wOBA of .265.
If Logan can return and hit like he did even last season, the production from Marlins first baseman should rise rapidly.
Here is a look at the lineup Stanton could see upon his return:[table “17” not found /]
Granted that this is still not one of the more intimidating lineups in the majors, that lineup is a major improvement over the one that started the season with the Fish. In addition, Ruggiano and Pierre moving to the bench will let the Marlins drop inferior players in Austin Kearns and Chris Coghlan from the roster.
What do you guys think? How do you see the Marlins lineup shaping up over the course of the next month, leading to Stanton’s return?