How the Miami Marlins can Improve from Within: Position Players

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Sep 26, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins catcher Jacob Realmuto (60) hits a two run triple during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals in game two of a baseball doubleheader at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins major splash last off-season was signing catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia away from the defending World Champions, the Boston Red Sox. While the deal has not played out like many had hoped, Salty has still been a major improvement for the Marlins from who they had playing the position a year ago.

Two main issues have impeded Salty from having the impact that many had hoped he would have with the team.

  1. Defense
  2. Inability to hit left-handers

Salty has committed a career-high 13 errors and caught just 20% of the base runners that have ran on him. He has also struggled with his pitch framing. Combine this with his inability to hit left handers, you’re looking at a player that should not be a full-time player.

Even with all of that, Salty has been worth his contract, as his FWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) has him at a 1.4 WAR for the season. That kind of production is estimated to be worth $10 million when he is making $6 million this season.

He could be even more valuable if the Marlins use him correctly next season, in a platoon role against right handed pitchers. Here’s a look at Saltalmacchia’s platoon splits this season:

[table id=69 /]

Salty has been a better than league average hitter against right handed pitchers, but his numbers are Adeiny Hechavarria-bad when it comes to hitting from the right side, against left-handed pitchers. He needs to be a platoon player for the Marlins to get good value out of him. His numbers looked a lot better a couple of weeks ago against right handed pitchers, but dipped recently near the end of the season. He should bounce back against right handed pitchers next season though,

Unfortunately, the backup catcher this season, Jeff Mathis, does not provide much offense and should not been a part of the other side of that platoon.

However, the Marlins do have a candidate in the minors that is having a break out season in a major way that could fill that platoon role with Salty: Jacob Realmuto.

After a rough first season at Double-A Jacksonville, Realmuto rebuild his prospect stock big time, posting a .299/.369/.461 slash line with a .374 wOBA in Double-A. He also added 8 home runs and stole 18 bases, as well as playing top notch defense behind the plate.

Realmuto already got his first taste of the majors this year, but the playing time was sparse and he never really had a chance to develop a rhythm. Realmuto was recalled to the majors shortly after the Jacksonville Suns won the Southern League championship and had a tremendous outing in his first start since being recalled.

Next season, he should replace Jeff Mathis and become part of a platoon for the Marlins at catcher.