What really went wrong in 2009


In 2008, the Marlins finished with 770 runs scored and 767 runs against, or a +3 run differential.  In 2009, they finished with 772 runs scored and 766 runs against, a +6 run differential.  The win result was different yes, but a ton of credit goes to winning the most one-run games in the league.  The similar offense is of no surprise, as they went from a .330 wOBA in ’08 to .331 in ’09.  So the pitching should also be similar, based off the results.  But the pitching staff improved from a 4.37 FIP to 4.15.  This amounts to about a twenty run difference, yet the result was simply 1 run.

Well, the problem wasn’t so much the pitching as it was the defense.  In 2008, the Fish posted their best UZR since the stat came to be in 2002, basically being average at -2.6 runs.  Yet this past season that number bottomed out to -20.5 runs.  Now we see where those twenty runs ran off too.  And yet not only did we essentially keep the same team, but the parts that did leave were the worst fielders on 2008.  The Marlins got rid of Luis Gonzalez (-13.1 UZR) for Brett Carroll (Considered elite defensive OFer), Mike Jacobs (-13.6 UZR) for what ended up being Emilio Bonifacio (Considered plus defender, plus moved Cantu back to first), and Josh Willingham (+1.3 UZR) for Cameron Maybin (Considered elite defensive OFer).  With what they lost and what they gained, if what they kept stayed static the Marlins would end up being one of the better defensive teams in all of baseball.  Obviously, that didn’t end up being the case.

First, a look at what all we lost (Note: The follow includes positional adjustments, not straight UZR):

Mike Jacobs105-22.35
Josh Willingham90-3.2
Luis Gonzalez76-16.9
Robert Andino133.75
Jacque Jones82.23
Dallas McPherson1-0.08

For a total of -36.55. Meanwhile, we replaced them with:

Emilio Bonifacio1020.47
Chris Coghlan116-17
Ross Gload53-2.42
Nick Johnson26-1.67
Alejandro De Aza80.67
Andy Gonzalez10.35

For a total of -19.6, almost all of which is Chris Coghlan. That’s a net gain of 17 runs. On top of which, these two players received more playing time with spots being opened up for them:

Name2008 DG2008 UZR2009 DG2009 UZRDifference
Cameron Maybin72.82442.53-0.29
Brett Carroll61.23911.8510.65

For another net gain of over 10 runs. We’re now looking at a net gain of 27 runs from what we lost to what we replaced from 2008 -> 2009. Needless to say, the following isn’t pretty. Here’s what we had in 2008 that stayed in 2009.

Name2008 DG2008 UZR2009 DG2009 UZRDifference
Cody Ross11514.15142-8.37-22.52
Dan Uggla1323.8159-7.45-11.25
Jorge Cantu160-5.23142-14.63-9.4
Jeremy Hermida131-15.85100-12.7+3.15
Hanley Ramirez1396.251225.8-0.45
Alfredo Amezaga728.4380.67-7.76
Wes Helms463.07461.87-1.2
Gaby Sanchez10.221-0.08-0.3

This comes out to a minus fifty run differential between 2008 and 2009.  Cody Ross takes nearly half of that alone, but Uggla and Cantu helped him out as best they could.  Jeremy Hermida was the only one to improve, and he was still terrible.  And the loss of Alfredo Amezaga showed to be big.

Some regression certainly should have been expected for Cody but no way should it have been that polarizing.  This coming season, he should meet some where in the middle, which should help us out a lot.  It’s hard to be all too positive in the cases of Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu though.  We should certainly be better this coming season, and there’s a chance we could even post our first positive UZR if things like Coghlan gets better from experience and Cody/Uggla/ect go back towards 2008 form.  But more than likely, things will be ugly again, which isn’t good news for our pitching staff.