Coming into the season, the Miami Marlins’ main strength was supposed to be their outfield. With Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna penciled in as starters and Ichiro Suzuki serving as the fourth outfielder, the Miami Marlins outfield was supposed to be the envy of the league.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case so far this season. A slow start by the trio has the Marlins off to a 3-11 start and has even put manager Mike Redmond on the hot seat, without a vote of confidence from owner Jeffery Loria.
Christian Yelich was demoted from the 2 spot in the Marlins lineup on Tuesday night down to the 5 hole, before he was ultimately scratched with a back ailment that has bothered him for a while now. Marcell Ozuna owns a .048 ISO and has struck out in 35% of his plate appearances.
Giancarlo Stanton has been the lone bright spot in the outfield, posting a 150 wRC+ in his first 59 plate appearances, but even he has been inconsistent. He struck out 6 times in 7 at bats at one point during the New York Mets series.
As we talked about many times before the season, the Miami Marlins will go as far as their outfield carries them in 2015.
Unfortunately, the Marlins outfield won’t be catching a break any time soon, as Yelich could be headed to the 15-day disabled list with the aforementioned back injury.
Nothing against Jordany Valdespin or Ichiro Suzuki, but neither of them are going to produce like a healthy Christian Yelich at their respective stages in their careers. Valdespin is a Quad-A or bench player at best and Ichiro is no longer a full-time starter at 41-years old.
Losing Yelich would be a huge blow for the Fish, but it is a move they need to seriously consider. Yelich missed the first two games of the Mets series last weekend in New York and struggled at the plate when he returned. Yelich won’t use it as an excuse, but it seems the injury has been the main culprit behind his struggles at the plate of late.
The Marlins would be wise to let Yelich heal up and come back at 100%, even if they lose ground now.
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On the other spectrum, the Marlins are having a whole different dilemma with Marcell Ozuna. Not only is Ozuna off to a slow start, but the team has been unhappy with him in general. This according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
"Beyond general dissatisfaction with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Marlins also haven’t been pleased with center fielder Marcell Ozuna, according to a team official.Besides starting slowly offensively (he’s rebounded a bit and is at .262 now), Ozuna is running to first base more slowly than last season (causing some internally to believe he could be in better shape), made a recent mindless defensive gaffe that irritated Marlins people and was benched a game for tardiness."
That .262 average Jackson brings up is meaningless. Ozuna owns a .262/.333/.310 slash line, with his slugging percentage coming in 55 points lower than Adeiny Hechavarria. Ozuna has hit for zero power this season and is striking out more than any Marlin not named Saltalamacchia.
As many of our writers talked about in our round table discussion before the season, Ozuna could be a candidate for a let down year this season, but no one thought that it would come this sharply.
Even with all that, I am not overly worried about Ozuna. We all know he has the talent to turn things around quickly. All of those “concerns” the Marlins have with Ozuna will disappear once he starts producing again.
The Marlins outfield is too talented to be struggling the way they are. But give Yelich time to heal up and Ozuna time to find his groove and they’ll be alright.