Miami Marlins Preview: Starting Lineup

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Lewis Brinson
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Lewis Brinson /

This article is the second of a series of six where we break down the Marlins headed to Opening Day. Yesterday we went over the starting rotation. Today, we’ll check out the starting lineup. Keep checking back as we take a look at the bullpen, the bench, the coaching staff, and Miami’s top prospects.

Starting Lineup

Catcher: JT Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto was a shortstop when the Marlins chose him in the third round back in 2010. Not for a second did they consider starting him there, though. Now entering his fifth major league season, his next appearance at catcher will be the 750th of his career. That’s a figure that’s split more-or-less evenly between minor- and major-league appearances.

So, Realmuto is probably the best “holdover” of the old guard that Sherman and Company inherited from Jeff Loria. A 6’1″, 190 lb. catcher from Oklahoma, Realmuto just celebrated his 27th birthday. As recently as 2015, he was regarded as a top prospect. He ranked second in Miami’s system at the beginning of that season.

Over the course of 415 Major League games, Realmuto has slashed out a .280/.323/.428 line, with 38 home runs (most of them in the video, below) and 183 RBI. He draws walks only about a third as much as he has struck out. Encouragingly, that figure has dropped through his first three full seasons. A real rarity from the catcher position, Realmuto has been known to swipe an occasional base. He has at least eight in each of his first three seasons with Miami.

Defensively, Realmuto picks off nearly a third of would-be base-stealers, gunning out 70-of-221 so far. Steamer has him appearing in 120 games in 2018, and hitting .274. He’s also expected to club 14 homers with 57 RBI, strike out 92 times, and draw 32 walks.

Realmuto could net a mint for the Marlins if they decide to part with him prior to the trade deadline. Would you rather see Realmuto in the lineup every day, leading this group of up-and-comers, or see what he’s worth on the open market?

First Baseman: Justin Bour

Bour is a 6’4″, 250 lb. first baseman from Virginia. He will turn 30 this season, in May. Entering his fifth major league season, Bour has socked 64 round-trippers in 366 contests.

Like Realmuto, Bour is a holdover from the previous regime. Unlike Realmuto, Bour was never a highly-regarded prospect. Selected by the Cubs in the 25th round back in 2009, he was a rule V pick for the Fish back in 2013.

Bour has picked up a .273/.346/.489 slashline through his career. He has drawn 128 free passes and whiffed 271 times, a ratio of just over two strikeouts per walk. That figure is down from the 2.97 he averaged as a rookie in 2015, as Bour has learned better pitch selection.

Bour has committed 10 errors at first base through his career. Last season, he only made one in over 800 chances at the “not-hot” corner. He’s also never been caught stealing (he’s one-for-one).

Bour is expected by Steamer to hit 25 homers with a .264 average and 74 RBI in 122 games. He could easily eclipse the 30 home run plateau with a fully-healthy season.

Second Baseman: Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro is a 6′, 150 lb. second baseman from the Dominican Republic. Although he’ll be entering his ninth full major league season, he’s only 27 years old. Castro turns 28 on Saturday. Although he was never drafted, he was considered the Cubs’ top prospect in 2010, and the #16 prospect in all of baseball.

After six years in Chicago and two with the Yankees, Castro finds himself in a familiar position. The Cubs parted ways with him just as their rebuild was starting to bear fruit, and the Marlins pick him up just as they’re starting theirs.

In 1,154 major league games, Castro has hit .282/.320/.413. He has gone deep 99 times with 496 RBI, and has struck out 798 times to only 233 walks. This K/BB rate of nearly 3 1/2 has gotten worse lately, despite his first .300 season since 2011.

Castro’s power should decrease from the 16 he hit last year, despite the identical Steamer projection. He could maintain his .300 batting average, and Steamer has him hitting .271 in 134 contests, along with 29 walks and 104 K’s.

Third Baseman: Brian Anderson

Anderson, a 6’3″, 185 lb. third baseman, has been a top-10 ranked prospect for the Marlins for the last three seasons. He opens this year as their #3 Baseball America prospect. The Marlins picked up the Oklahoma native in the third round of the 2011 draft.

A veteran of just 25 major league contests, Anderson is projected to appear in just 62 games for the Marlins. Don Mattingly has gone on record as saying that Anderson is Miami’s third baseman going forward, so that number could rise. Fangraphs Al Melchior had this to say:

"Brian Anderson’s rise through the minors hit a bump in 2016, when his production hit a snag upon reaching Double-A Jacksonville. After posting a .326 wOBA in his first tour of the Southern League, he revisited the circuit in 2017 and improved that mark to .361, thanks to an increase in power. Anderson earned a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans, and after batting .339 with eight home runs in 33 games, the Marlins called him up when rosters expanded.Anderson was given the bulk of the starts at third base over the season’s final month. In his 25 games, he went homerless, and his overall production was 10% below league average. There were some bright spots, namely an 11% walk rate and a 28% line drive rate, the latter of which helped him to bat .386 on balls in play and .262 overall. Sounds fluky, you say? xBABIP disagrees, estimating that he should have compiled a .393 BABIP."

Quite literally, I couldn’t say it better myself. Steamer has Anderson hitting at a .246 clip with seven homers and 28 RBI. It also says he’ll draw 19 walks and strike out 56 times.

Shortstop: Miguel Rojas

Rojas has completed four major league seasons, three with the Marlins after coming over from Los Angeles. The 6′, 150 lb. shortstop from Venezuela caught his first break in 2005, when he signed with the Cincinnati Reds as a 16-year-old kid.

Rojas can play all four infield positions, although he profiles as a very good defensive shortstop. He carries a .973 fielding percentage at the six over 208 appearances at the position. Offensively, he has slashed .256/.312/.330 in 358 career games.

Rojas has long been a jack-of-all-trades for the Marlins, and should continue in the role with the eventual return of J.T. Riddle. Steamer thinks he’ll hit .266 in 58 contests, but he’s averaged 91 appearances in his three Marlins’ seasons. I’ll take the over on those 58 games.

Left Field: Derek Dietrich

Dietrich is entering his sixth season as a Marlin, and is the longest currently continuously-tenured player on the roster. The 6’1″, 195 lb. lefty from Ohio will be turning 29 in July. He was a second round pick of the Rays back in 2010. Ironically, he was chosen as a shortstop, which is the only infield position he hasn’t played in the majors.

Along with Rojas, Dietrich is also fills the “super-utility” role. Although slated as Miami’s regular left fielder, he could easily pick up starts at all four infield positions. He’s the Marlins’ career-leader in drawing first base by way of hit batsman, with 72 and counting.

Dietrich’s more conventional plate appearance results see him slash .250/.338/.422. He’s hit 44 home runs in his career, but with a full season has the power to put up 20. Steamer says he’ll hit .252 with 10 round-trippers in 87 games, but that may prove disingenuous with a full year of at bats.

Center Field: Lewis Brinson

All but anointed “The Chosen One” since his arrival via the Christian Yelich trade, Brinson could make good on those expectations. Long considered a top prospect, he’s currently ranked #1 in Miami’s system, and #27 overall. In 2012, he was chosen in the first round by the Rangers.

The 6’3″, 170 lb. Brinson is a Tamarac, FL native, and will be 24-years-old in May. Steamer projects him to appear in just under 100 games, and hit .256. He’s a legitimate 20-20 threat as a rookie, and is widely expected to compete for NL Rookie of the Year.

“Toolsy” is a word that is often applied to Brinson, and watching his minor league reel it’s easy to see why. He grades at least above average in every category except for “hit,” and he’s shown improvement in that as well. Brinson is the closest thing the Marlins’ have to a “can’t miss” prospect.

Right Field: Cameron Maybin

Now, I said that Derek Dietrich is the longest continuously-tenured with the Marlins, along comes Maybin.

Maybin is a veteran of 11 major league seasons and has played with the Tigers, the Florida Marlins, the Padres, the Braves, the Angels, and the Astros. He has a career slashline of .255/.321/.372, with 56 homers and 287 RBI in 910 games.

Maybin was a first round pick of the Tigers back in 2005, and has rejoined the Marlins through free agency. He signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract back in January.

A lot of Maybin’s value has traditionally been tied to his ability to steal bases. He seemed to be on a steady decline, but last season, at age 30, he swiped 33. He did hit just .228, but by this point in his career has acquired a lot of plate patience. After averaging more than 2.5 K’s/9 through his career, last season he lowered that to 1.9 in over 400 plate appearances.

Maybin is projected to rebound to .250 and regress to 16 stolen bases in 80 games.

Thanks for reading today’s preview piece. Tune in tomorrow as we take a look at Miami’s 2018 Bullpen. In the meantime, “like” us on FaceBook, follow us on Twitter, and keep checking back here for all the latest Marlin news.