Coming into the season, the Marlins featured one of the best outfield trios the game had to offer. Comprised of a newly signed superstar, Giancarlo Stanton, and two up and coming talents, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, Miami’s outfield was one to fear.
However, as we reach the end of the regular season, expectations haven’t been met by the young trio. The Marlins, while in third place, find themselves 22 games below .500 and completely out of playoff contention.
So what went wrong in the outfield?
Some may say injuries, some may say underperformance. In short, it’s a combination of both, but we’ll take a look into each individual.
Let’s start with Christian Yelich. The 23-year-old has actually posted more impressive numbers this year than in 2014, which I wrote about earlier this week. However, his struggles to begin 2015 (.200 average in April, .231 average in May) cost the team early, as his improved performance has come during Miami’s irrelevancy.
Marcell Ozuna is a different story. Ozuna underperformed drastically to begin 2015. Eventually, the Marlins sent him down to Triple-A New Orleans, which he called ‘jail.’ He thrived in New Orleans, but stayed a bit too long. The 33 games played weren’t to ‘fix’ Ozuna, but for financial purposes instead.
Ozuna has since returned to the Marlins, gradually improving into the outfielder he was in 2014. His second half batting average is up to .267 and he’s hit four homers in the last 22 games, compared to his four in 79 to begin the season.
Giancarlo Stanton was utterly phenomenal when he was healthy in 2015. Miami’s slugger was on pace for a 59 homer season before he went down with a hand injury. Following Stanton’s injury, it became even more clear he carried the Marlins. The lack of a definitive power presence in Miami’s lineup was very noticeable in July and August.
Other outfielders included Ichiro Suzuki, Cole Gillespie, and appearances by Derek Dietrich and the traded Michael Morse. Despite Ichiro’s negative WAR, he’s proven to be a competent fourth outfielder. Cole Gillespie has slashed .292/.335/.431 with little power, but has also proven his worth as a Marlin in 2015.
The obvious key for the 2016 outfield is health. Yes, improved play would help, but with Ozuna, Yelich, and Stanton manning the Marlins Park outfield daily, the Marlins could compete offensively with the National League’s best.
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