What player made the most improvement this season?
Sean Millerick: Have to pick one? Excluding Fernandez, the players that just missed the All-Star game were all better than the ones that went. Yelich is the obvious call here, but I’m going to give some love to J.T. Realmuto here. The young Marlins backstop just had a .303 season, markedly better than the famed Buster Posey, and has very quietly put himself in the conversation for best offensive catcher in the game. He’ll likely never hit 20 HRs, but who cares when he crushes doubles and steals double digit bases?
Austyn Varney: Marcell Ozuna. You could go with a few guys here, but I think Ozuna made a huge leap from 2015 to 2016. If we look back to 2015, Ozuna hit 10 homers, drove in 44 runs and struck out almost 23% of the time. Last season, in only 100 more at-bats, he hit 23 homers, drove in 76 runs and struck out “only” 18.5% of the time. His defensive efficiency also went from -0.6 to 1.4, and it is always great to see improvement on the defensive side of the ball. At 26, Ozuna should be hitting his prime very soon and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a huge season this upcoming year.
David Marcillo: The biggest improvement this season came from reliever Kyle Barraclough. He was acquired by the Marlins as basically a non-prospect afterthought in the Steve Cishek trade. Barraclough killed it in 2016 though, posting a 2.85 ERA/2.11 FIP and striking out a ridiculous 14 batters per 9 innings. He did have some control issues (5.45 BB/9) but he seemed to rein it in a bit better towards the end of the season. He’ll be a huge part of the Marlins bullpen for several seasons.
Kyle Rowley: I would say Christian Yelich made the most improvements, with Kyle Barraclough a close second. Yelich has always been a very good baseball player, but his power numbers went up, allowing for him to truly become a great player. His keen eye combined with his smooth swing allow for Yelich to consistently give great at-bats. Not to mention he continued his very solid defensive play. All-around, Yelich may be the best pure player on the team. As far as Barraclough, his k/9 rate was insane. If he can keep up his location, he has a chance to become an elite reliever.
Joshua Alfonso: Yelich, he had a consistent season and could be a pillar of this franchise in a way that even Stanton may not ever achieve.