Marlins Hitters: Buy or Sell?


We are midway through the month of May and the Marlins are in contention, or as “in contention” as a team can be a quarter of the way into the season. The players are also about a quarter of the way into their seasons, and so I felt it was appropriate to take a look at a quarterly review in the vein of a “Buy or Sell” type segment. Let’s look at various Marlins players and people of interest and see whether you, as Marlin Maniacs, should be “buying” or “selling” on these names for the remainder of the year.

What do I mean by buying or selling?  Well, in this piece I’ll be giving a name of a player and his current numbers along with his preseason and rest-of-season projections. This information will help me determine two things: whether the player’s current production is sustainable and whether his future production is a good or a bad thing for the Marlins. Much of this will be objective, but of course naturally some of it will have its subjectivity involved, so let’s take a look and see which Marlins are going to be worth their weight and which ones would you rather not see.

Chris Coghlan: Sell 

ZiPS preseason.286.357.414.344
ZiPS rest-of-season.280.349.416.340

There are a few things I just do not believe about Chris Coghlan:

– In 565 PA in 2009, Coghlan hit .321/.390/.460, worth a .372 wOBA. Since then, he has had 576 PA separated between two seasons and he has hit .262/.330/.390, good for a .318 wOBA. In half of his career, he was stellar, in part due to a massive hot streak in the last two months of the season. In his other seasons, he was a pretty mediocre middle-infielder type hitter. His pedigree is such that it would support him being closer to the latter, but at least the current middle ground has him being decently above average. I would bet a bit under on his future projection.

Right now, the only thing that is holding up his value in 2011 is his surprisingly good showing in center field with regards to the numbers; fans remain somewhat mixed, but they would all agree (myself included) that Coghlan at least appears better than expected in center field, but it remains to be seen how long that will last. Right now, my money is still on him not being a good center fielder, but my opinion can certainly be swayed, and he has done well enough to change my view.

Hanley Ramirez: Buy 

ZiPS preseason.309.388.512.389
ZiPS rest-of-season.294.374.482.378

Ramirez’s fall has been precipitous so far this season, but there is something to be said about it: there’s nowhere to go but up. Right now, Ramirez is performing well underneath even his 10th percentile PECOTA projection, meaning that this is about as bad one could possibly imagine a player of his caliber playing, a one-in-a-million situation. Still, you can see how much Ramirez’s stock has fallen because of this poor start; he has already lost 0.010 points of wOBA off of his preseason expectation, which would be worth about five runs in one season’s worth of play.

The biggest fall is in the power department, where Ramirez’s expectations in ISO have fallen 0.015 points. While the problem with his batting average is a matter of BABIP bad luck (prior to this season’s .239 mark, Ramirez owned a career .347 BABIP) and his strikeout and walk rates are as stable as ever (his 10.9 percent walk rate this year is awfully close to his ZiPS projected 10.7 percent mark), the precipitous power fall can be attributable to something. Beyond a bout of bad HR/FB rate luck, Ramirez has been simply hitting the ball on the ground too much, getting over 50 percent of balls in play in the dirt since last season. He needs to start driving and getting the ball in the air more often to return to superstardom.

Logan Morrison: Buy 

ZiPS preseason.284.372.452.357
ZiPS rest-of-season.287.376.462.367

As I mentioned before Morrison went to the DL, his current level of production is almost certainly unsustainable. While he is young enough to expect some development in terms of power, I doubt he is a stronger hitter than the other young Marlins outfielder of interest. However, as I mentioned before Morrison went on the DL, the most encouraging part about Morrison’s early-season development is the eery similarity between his 2010 and 2011 numbers. His BABIP has dropped a tad to .321, but it seems totally believable that he could manage a mark such as that one given his minor league .323 mark. His walk and strikeout rates are as superb as last season’s marks as he continues to show a top-notch eye at the plate. I would continue to expect big things from him offensively, and with enough improvement, it may even be enough to overlook his likely defensive deficiencies in the outfield.

Gaby Sanchez: Buy 

ZiPS preseason.272.340.436.340
ZiPS rest-of-season.282.355.450.357

Whatever was just said above about Logan Morrison could be said about Gaby Sanchez as well. Essentially, he is a lesser version of Morrison at this stage of the game, someone who shares a similar skillset with less upside. He won’t maintain this pace for much longer, but he is likely to keep on being a strong contributor for the Fish (as well as my fantasy team, thanks Gaby!).

Mike Stanton: Buy 

ZiPS preseason.246.327.493.348
ZiPS rest-of-season.248.329.502.360

So far, the Marlins fans who voted in FanGraphs’s Fan projections have been all right about Morrison, Sanchez, and Stanton’s production. Fellow Marlin Maniacs guessed that Stanton would approach a line of .264/.339/.520, and Stanton has outperformed even that so far. ZiPS’s rest-of-season projection is catching up to that number, so it is getting increasingly more likely that what the Marlins thought they would get from Stanton is what they actually will get from him. Remember, he’s still just 21 years old. How amazing are the next few seasons going to be for him and Morrison?

Greg Dobbs: Sell 

ZiPS preseason.242.295.386.298
ZiPS rest-of-season.261.313.415.320

Let’s just say that Dobbs has never hit as well as he has this season and has not yet given any reason to expect him to continue to hit this way. That .394 BABIP is through the roof, and even though ZiPS’s rest-of-season projected line is more than acceptable, I still have my doubts whether he can do that. He’s gained the most from all of the other Marlins players in terms of how he was projected before the year compared to now, but I will take the under on that future projection. Combine that with mediocre defense and I’ll gladly sell.

Emilio Bonifacio: Sell 

ZiPS preseason.262.314.332.293
ZiPS rest-of-season.266.320.338.299

You definitely don’t need me to tell you why, right? He’s bound to hurt us sooner or later, it’s just a matter of time. For example, after a hot month of April (.318/.366/.409), Bonifacio has reverted to hitting his more typical .250/.333/.365. He currently has about a league average batting line and a .288 batting average, yet he still has a very high .359 BABIP. Prior to this season, his career mark was .317. The only encouraging thing about Boni this year is his walk rate, which is improved. However, he’s still swinging and missing at a career high rate and is actually swinging a bit more than usual, so I don’t think that will last either.

John Buck: Buy 

ZiPS preseason.254.308.437.321
ZiPS rest-of-season.248.311.429.324

Walk and strikeout rates are improved, though probably in line for regression. ISO is essentially at the career level. Only problem is a .240 BABIP, which is the lowest posted since his 2007 season. Things are on the up and up for Buck, I just happened to catch him on a cold streak.

Omar Infante: Sell 

ZiPS preseason.300.347.402.329
ZiPS rest-of-season.286.330.373.314

Infante’s problem is also a matter of BABIP, because his walk and strikeout rates are equally static at the moment and he has never displayed much in the way of power anyway (though not nearly as little as this). Still, despite the smooth glove (a definite improvement over Dan Uggla‘s), there is something about depending on a player like him that makes me leery. Guys like Felipe Lopez and Freddy Sanchez, two players very similar in skillset to Infante, can become irrelevant fairly quickly and are prone to bad seasons like this because of their dependence on singles. He will hit better going forward, but this was his chance to impress the brass and he isn’t likely to make a significantly better case for himself the rest of the way.