Let’s look on the bright side


(Note: I was out of town for the weekend at a friend’s place and had limited time to update between hanging out, catching up, and sleeping, so I apologize for the lack of recent activity. I will resume my regularly scheduled work on Marlin Maniac, so please continue to keep it a must-read every day.

Also, I was not able to catch the game on Tuesday, as I would have had to leave early in the second game anyway. I’m a little saddened that I won’t catch the Fish live this year, as this season has really rekindled my passion for the team. Alas, it was not to be. I’ll try my best to find time to head to south Florida again next year to catch a game.)

With the Marlins splitting the road series versus the lowly Cincinnati Reds and following it up with a split of the double-header versus the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday, the team’s playoff hopes are obviously shot. I know most of us Marlins fans, myself included, can’t be too happy about that, but we need to focus on the bright side of this season. There is a lot to like about this year.

– With one more win, the Marlins can clinch their fourth above-.500 record in team history. A .500 finish for the season gets the Fish to 86-76, the third-best mark in team history and the best since the 2003 team. Of course, records without eliminating some luck are not very indicative, and right now the club still holds a .500 record via Pythagorean record, more or less the same as the one the team has held three of the last four years. But if you look at the component statistics, the Marlins have the fourth best position player WAR in the league despite their terrible defense and the eighth best pitcher WAR. In BtB’s Power Rankings as of last week, the Marlins hold a eWin%lg of .512, just slightly above .500. Given the almost season-long blunder that was Emilio Bonifacio, along with the continued struggles of the starting staff outside of Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, the team managed an above .500 record after park-adjustment.

– The emergence of Josh Johnson has been astounding to watch. He has shown that he’s come back from Tommy John surgery in a big way, currently posting a 5.3 WAR season according to FanGraphs. This season JJ has shown control of his pitches, the ability to get ground balls by locating better, and of course a blazing fastball that is one of the best in baseball. The Marlins are considering tying him up through two free agency seasons, and anytime the Marlins consider tying up a player past the short term, that’s got to be good news.

Hanley Ramirez entered a whole new stratosphere of great. Ramirez currently ranks fourth in WAR on FanGraphs, behind Albert Pujols, Chase Utley. and Joe Mauer, which I think are all pretty good company. He’s also shown for a second season in a row that he’s an average shortstop that could stick at the position for five or six more years; he currently has a 1.4 UZR on the season. And the Marlins only have more seasons like this to look forward to, as Hanley is tied up in a pretty team-friendly deal for the next four years.

– Despite a huge early season slump, Dan Uggla bounced back in a big way in the second half, normalized his BABIP, and is once again on track for a .360 wOBA and a 3+ WAR season. Even though the team will most likely deal him in the offseason, the smart clubs in the league should be offering a good sum of prospects and young major leaguers for a power-hitting second baseman who has perhaps two more seasons of prime play and cost control.

Chris Coghlan has been an excellent addition to the ballclub. He’s racked up a .367 wOBA so far, showing good plate discipline and decent gap power. If Uggla is dealt, look for Coghlan to enter the infield, as he has not translated too well in the outfield so far. Still, the Marlins have to be impressed with their leadoff man.

Sure, there are negatives, particularly the step back by Chris Volstad and the continued disappointment of Jeremy Hermida, but the club can improve with minor moves in the offseason. The club’s focus should be on defense, and hopefully the team realizes this and works to find gloves to fit into the roster. The Marlins can improve on this season, and the young players can only be expected to get better as we go along. The Marlins can contend with the right moves; let’s see if these moves can be made.