Last night wrapped up the first quarter of play for the Miami Marlins. Unexpectedly, the Marlins are sitting in 5th place in the N.L. East with a record of 15-26. Let’s take a look and see why.
Just about any way that you cut it, the Miami Marlins have just about the worst offense in the major leagues. The only bright side would be that there is room for improvement. As of now, the Fish are 30th in OBP (On Base Percentage), Batting WAR, Home runs and wOBA (weighted on Base Average).
While that looks bad now, there are places where this team can improve as early as this season. I will be highlighting two players who can raise their stock in the 121 games left on the schedule.
Justin Bour is swinging a better bat as of late. On the season, he is taking a ton of walks (17.9%- 6th in the league) and has cut down his strikeout rate by three percentage points. This has led to his OBP to jump from .366 in 2017 to .379 this year.
What is most impressive about his OBP spike is that he is doing it with a much lower average than the one he had last year. In 2018, he is hitting .244 compared to .289 last year.
The biggest reason his average has dipped is that his BABIP has fallen. A reason for the slip could be attributed to his Line drive percentage dropping by over four points.
The league-wide batting average on a line drive is .685. For ground balls, it is .239 and fly balls is .207. The less line drives Bour hits, the fewer opportunities he will have to collect hits.
The home runs will continue to come as Bour has massive power, but if he can raise his average a bit he will become an even more productive bat for the Miami Marlins.
Lewis Brinson is currently hitting .176/.228/.301 with five home runs, and it seems as if the only way is up for the young center fielder.
Brinson was a very highly touted prospect coming out of the Brewers system, and you still see what the scouts were raving about at the time. The problem is, he is very clearly beat by major league pitching at this time.
Among all qualified hitters, Brinson has the second-highest strikeout rate and sixth lowest wRC+. In the field, however, Brinson is elite. According to UZR, Brinson is the second-best defensive center fielder in all of baseball behind A.J. Pollock.
That paragraph above wraps up Brinson’s season to date. With the glove he is electric, but the bat is behind. The Marlins are in a tough situation with how they handle Brinson.
They have been reluctant to send him down, but his struggles at the major league level are very apparent. Don’t be surprised if you do end up seeing Brinson sent down at some point this season.
If he is, it is not the end of the line for the 24-year-old. He will have another shot with the Marlins to turn it around.
In 2018 the pitching staff has been very underwhelming. Marlins’ pitchers have a combined zero WAR which is the worst in all of baseball. In other categories such as ERA and xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching), they are also bottom five performers.
As of now, according to xFIP Tayron Guerrero is the best pitcher on the Marlins. He runs really high strikeout rates and has been the most utilized pitcher out of the Marlins pen.
On the other hand, Wei-Yin Chen has been the worst pitcher on the staff. His ERA is currently 7.37, he has walked more batters than he has struck out and out of pitchers with at least 16 IP, he has the third highest HR/9 in baseball.
The Marlins’ pitching staff is one of the main reasons that they entered this rebuild, and as of now, it is not looking any better at the major league level.
With that being said, there is one pitcher who is underperforming that could help the Marlins staff at least end with a positive WAR on the season.
Dan Straily currently has a -0.5 WAR, which is second worst on the entire staff. With that being said, if he turns around the problems he has had with walks, he could be an above-average performer as he has been the last two years.
From last year, Straily’s velocity is actually up very slightly, from an average fastball of 90.8 in 2017 to 90.9 in 2018. The main issue has been his lack of control.
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Out of all pitchers with at least ten innings pitched he is fifth in walk rate. This high walk rate is not characteristic of the right-hander. Last year, he walked 2.97 per nine, this year it is up all the way to 7.62 per nine.
Ironing that one issue out will be a deciding factor in the season that Straily will have. If the problem is not fixed, watch out for an ugly ERA in line with his 6.83 xFIP at the end of the season. If he can fix his walk issue, Straily could be a key to the pitching staff having a positive WAR.
As a whole, the Marlins are a young team that is struggling early on. While nobody should expect this team to challenge for a playoff spot, they have a lot of room to improve. Marlins fans should use the next 121 games to look forward to what is to come from our young talent and see if they can make the next step. Click here for some highs and lows.
As of now, the Miami Marlins have both the worst offense and pitching staff according to FanGraphs’ WAR. If we check back in with that stat towards the end of the year, we will be able to track the improvements or lack thereof this team has made.
Glad you stopped by to read today. Tune in for the Marlins matchup against the Dodgers later tonight. In the meantime, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.