With Justin Bour now out of the Miami Marlins‘ picture, power must be sought in unexpected ways. Enter Miguel Rojas.
Coming into this season, Rojas had a total of four home runs in 358 games, with exactly one in each major league season. His aggregate 4.2 WAR was also nothing special. This season, Rojas is now up to nine home runs, with a 2.8 WAR. Where exactly is the power coming from?
Rojas’ first three seasons with the Marlins would see him barrel exactly one ball, according to baseballsavant.mlb.com. He’s tripled that output this year, but still, that’s just three. His exit velocity, which is 83.6 MPH through his career, is only the slightest tick higher than in seasons past, at 84.4 MPH. Rojas’ BABIP sits at .275, which is actually below his career mark by 10 points. That means he’s actually slashed his current .256/.307/.351 against bad luck. Incidentally, that’s another area that’s virtually unchanged this season, with a career mark of .256/.311/.337.
Not considered the slowest guy, Rojas has a 26.6 feet per second sprint rate, good for a middling 319th in the majors along with six stolen bases this season. Despite that, somehow, he leads the major leagues with 19 double plays grounded into. That certainly plays into the profile of a lumbering power hitter. It’s a comedy of contradictions.
At 29-years-old, Rojas is playing the best baseball of his career, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Currently slated to make $1.18M, he’s not eligible for free agency until 2021. He can, however, file for arbitration following this season. The Miami Marlins have to decide whether to continue to build on Rojas’ base or to go in a different direction. Rojas’ WAR ranks second on the Marlins, behind only J.T. Realmuto.
Rojas was initially signed as a 16-year-old amateur free agent out of Venezuela. Born in Los Teques, Rojas signed with the Cincinnati Reds and worked his way up through their system until 2012. He split that year between the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the double-A Southern League and the Louisville Bats in the triple-A International League.
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After declaring free agency, Rojas signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made his major league debut in the City of Angels in 2014, slashing .181/.242/.221 in 85 games. After the 2014 season, the Dodgers traded Rojas with Dan Haren and Dee Gordon to the Marlins for Austin Barnes, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Hatcher, and Andrew Heaney.
Which way should the Miami Marlins lean? I’m not part of the management team here, but if they ever bothered to ask me, I’d say that his character is as “Miami” as it gets. Above average fielding at all four infield positions, a bat versatile enough to place anywhere in the order, a temperament even enough to keep things in order, and a baseball ambassador for the city of Miami. Rojas can also be counted on to provide countless hours of entertainment as “The Monkey.”
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