2015 Miami Marlins Season Review: Background and Takeaways

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Sep 19, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich (21) is congratulated by Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) after scoring a run against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins in 2014 had the worst infield defense in the entire Major Leagues, with a score of -47.1 according to StatCorner, as would be expected from having an infield that was mainly composed of  Garrett “Clank” Jones, Donovan Solano, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Casey McGehee, for the majority of the season. In stark contrast the Marlins infield scored at 13.6 RAA for 2015, which made them the tenth best infield defense in the Major Leagues. 

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Three of the four Marlins infielders had UZRs above 6 this season; Gordon with 6.3, Prado with 8.8 and Adeiny Hechavarria with 16.

Hechavarria’s mark alone had him third in all of baseball in UZR, behind only Kevin Keiermaier and Andrelton Simmons.  Giving credit where credit is due, the Miami Marlins went out and fixed a major flaw in their team by trading for Dee Gordon and Martin Prado, even if cost them long-term depth.

Another move that could positively impact the Marlins in the long-term was the decision to move to J.T. Realmuto as the full-time catcher in 2015. In his rookie season Realmuto slashed .259/.290/.406 with 10 HR, 38 XBH and finished the year with a 86 wRC+ and 6 DRS f which added up to 1.6 fWAR. 

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Realmuto, in less than 500 plate appearances, was the eleventh best catcher in baseball, according to fWAR and the sixteenth best, according to wRC+.  Realmuto could try to walk more and he was hurt by a .285 BABIP, but he is a good enough hitter that he compares favorably to other premium offensive catchers going forward.

The Miami Marlins also acquired a very interesting player in the winter of 2012 that has been sidelined thanks to the Marlins method of operation, in Derek Dietrich. Dietrich was given his first opportunity to get significant plate appearances this year and he looked quite impressive. In 289 plate appearances, he slashed .256/.346/.45 with 10 HR and a 119 wRC+.  A 119 wRC+ puts Dietrich as the thirteenth best hitting third baseman and the seventeenth best left fielder in baseball (the same as Nolan Arenado and Starling Marte).  Dietrich’s 8% walk rate was the third best on the team, behind Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.  Dietrich has even more upside as a platoon option, as his 134 wRC+ against right-handed pitching was the seventh best among all third basemen in 2015.

A large part of the Miami Marlins’ struggles early in 2015 stemmed from lack of production from key pieces, with Marcell Ozuna among them. Ozuna struggled in the first half and was even sent down to AAA to work out his problems (although there may have been other reasons). Ozuna in his first 322 plate appearances of 2015 only had 18 XBH and slugged .337, which  resulted in a 75 wRC+, well below league average.

Since getting called up back from New Orleans in the middle of August, Ozuna has had 172 plate appearances and has hit 19 XBH, with a .469 slugging percentage, and a 115 wRC+. In short, since getting called back up, Ozuna was a 40% better hitter than he was before getting sent down.

Just looking at his spray charts are illustrative of what he was doing wrong and why he’s been so much better since getting called back up.

Since getting called up he has been able to pull the ball and hit it harder, with authority.

There is much more to why the Marlins failed this year, but ultimately I think these are the things that stood out to me, and are the reasons that the Miami Marlins were hurt, and why there is at least some hope for the future.

Follow Marlin Maniac on Twitter @MarlinManiac for all your Miami Marlins news, opinion and analysis!

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