The Miami Marlins 2015 playoff chances will mainly hinge on the success of their star outfield. This is why we covered the ZiPS projections of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna first.
Stanton, Yelich, and Ozuna will have the burden of carrying the team, as even with an improved infield, the team needs all three to continue to develop and play at the top of their games.
Probably the next important player for the Marlins would be Dee Gordon, if only because what the team had to trade to acquire his services.
On December 10th, the Marlins and Dodgers agreed to a blockbuster deal. The trade brought the Marlins Dee Gordon, Dan Haren (his status is still in flux), and Miguel Rojas. In return, the Marlins sent out their top prospect in Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Enrique Hernandez, and Austin Barnes.
That’s a hefty return for a one-tool player, especially considering Heaney is still regarded as a top 100 prospect by both MLB.com and Keith Law.
The Dodgers actually turned around and dealt Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, a player I would have preferred the Fish to get, but that’s another story.
Dee Gordon is coming off a career year in 2014, one which the Marlins see as a breakout season, but many others see it as a fluke.
Gordon posted a .289/.326/.378 slash line, good for a 102 wRC+ in 148 games and 650 plate appearances. The main statistic the Marlins loved about Dee is his 64 stolen bases. He hits for almost zero power (2 home runs & 0.89 ISO) and his batting line was inflated due to a .346 BABIP, which is .20 points higher than his career mark. His 4.9% walk rate is also not ideal for a lead-off man.
There are some questions about his defense at second base, as well.
His 2014 season resulted in a 3.1 fWAR, which is an impressive number for Gordon.
So while the Marlins see Gordon as someone who they can continue to develop, I have serious questions if he can even repeat his success from a season ago.
Call to the Pen
ZiPS projections for Gordon aren’t too kind. It projects a .281/.326/.357 slash line with a 88 wRC+. That’s a major drop in production from the 2014 season, mainly due to a drop in his BABIP line to his career norm (.326).
Gordon sees his 3.1 fWAR drop from that aforementioned 3.1 fWAR down to a below league average player a 1.6 zWAR. That number is ironically lower than both Austin Barnes (2.2 zWAR) and Enrique Hernandez (2.0 zWAR
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ZiPS does like Gordon’s chances of improving from his 4.9% walk rate from 2014, with it rising to over 6% for the 2015, which is still hardly an inspiring number. But it is still good, as the projection system still has Gordon reaching base at the same level as last season, with a .326 OBP.
ZiPS projects 50 stolen bases in 65 attempts for Gordon in 2015, which is right around the 75-77% efficiency rate he has sat at for his career. Of his 148 base hits, ZiPS projects just 29 of them to go for extra bases, which may seem low, especially if Gordon is able to use his speed on some of the dimensions at Marlins Park.
The Marlins expect Dee Gordon to be the one setting the table for the team in 2015. While Christian Yelich profiles as a better leadoff hitter for the Marlins going forward, having Dee in that spot won’t kill them. However, if the team is expecting him to repeat his numbers from last year or even improve on them, they’ll be in for a long season.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the ZiPS projections for the rest of the Marlins infield.