Here at Marlin Maniac we are bringing our end of season reviews for you. We are handing out grades based on season performance against season expectations. For more information about our grading system click here.
Today we are going to look at center field for the Marlins this year. This position was one of the more fluid positions for Miami. No one really took control of the position and today we will select Justin Ruggiano and Jake Marisnick to review.
Breaking out of spring training we found Ruggiano as the starting center fielder based mostly on the heels of his breakout (relatively speaking) year last year. Ruggiano was expected to provide a consistent bat with some pop, something that the Marlins desperately needed. His arm would be acceptable in the cavernous outfield in Marlins park but his lack of speed would be a detriment. Unfortunately for Ruggiano, his bat took a major step backward from last season and fell more in line with his previous averages. After hitting .313 a year ago Ruggiano finished 2013 with a .222 batting average and an OBP of under .300.
More notably for Ruggiano was his run at the Major League Baseball hitless streak. At one point during the season Ruggiano suffered an 0 for 42 slump that ended just 5 at bats short of the record, not exactly a record to be proud of. During this streak Ruggiano lost his spot in the lineup and the center field carousel began.
Ruggiano would finish the season with 18 home runs and a WAR of 0.1 on the year. Ruggiano demonstrated that he is currently most suited as a “quadruple-a” player in most organizations and with the Marlins young talent, it may be difficult for him to make the big league team next year.
Many people around the Marlins organization view Jake Marisnick as the future center fielder for the Marlins and that includes me. That being said, this season was a bit of a disaster for the young center fielder. It didn’t start out that way though. I had the privilege of watching him play for the Jacksonville Suns on numerous occasions this year, and he looked as if he was a high schooler playing with little leaguers. His size stands out, but also his quickness. He has an above average arm and certainly adequate speed on defense. As a matter of fact, his defense wasn’t really the problem once he reached the majors, his bat on the other hand…
It really seemed as if Marisnick was putting too much pressure on himself once he made it to Miami. I also feel that the Marlins organization made a significant mistake by bringing him up at the same time as Christian Yelich. Yelich was the Marlins top hitting prospect and it was natural for Jake to compare each at bat in the beginning to that of Yelich’s. When Yelich got off to a hot start, it became difficult for Marisnick to keep pace, and he was obviously pressing.
It is important to note that Marisnick’s sample size is very small. He only logged 40 games and 118 plate appearances. That being said, a stat line of .183/.231/.248 is really, really bad. Marisnick’s defensive play was his lone bright spot, but barring a breakout spring training, look for Marisnick to start the season in triple-a next year to prove that he can handle big league pitching. One thing is for sure, at some point next year he will get an opportunity to redeem himself. Keep in mind that even Mike Trout struggled in his first partial season in the majors before going on to be one of the best players in baseball. Lets hope something similar happens for Marisnick.
Overall, Miami had very little production from the center field position. An ideal center fielder for Marlins Park will have loads of speed and be a gap to gap hitter. The Marlins didn’t come close to getting that. For that reason, among many, I am giving this grade to the Marlins center field position.
What do you think? Is Marisnick the future in center field or do you have someone else in mind? Let me know in the comments below.