The Marlins feel the need for speed with Jon Berti in the lineup.
I remember as a youngster playing football video games where John Madden would say that “speed kills” as stars would run past defenders to score touchdowns. I never thought I would use a football reference in a baseball story, but here I am doing just that as I talk about the Miami Marlins and their need for speed at the end of the 2019 season.
The Marlins are the only MLB team that has not cracked the 100-home run plateau this season, which speaks to the franchise’s need for power hitters and more pop in the middle of the lineup in South Florida. Manager Don Mattingly made no apologies for the team’s lack of power prior to the beginning of the season, stating his ball club would need to concentrate on timely hitting and moving base runners around the diamond.
The Marlins are currently 26th in Major League Baseball in hitting with a .241 average. Their lack of power, and even hitting at the right time, have been costly this season. Hopefully, the future is brighter and better hitting will come. In the meantime, Mattingly and his staff can focus on the roster can do in front of the remaining weeks of the season, concentrating on what works and needs improvement.
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In terms of team speed, the return of Jon Berti may be what this team needs as a catalyst on the base pads. His speed offers a bit of a change to what the team has been used to most of this season.
"“In Berti, the Marlins have a legitimate burner who possesses game-changing speed. In the final two months of the season, Miami is seeing if the 29-year-old has a long-term future in the organization,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes.“In terms of pure speed, Berti ranks among the fastest players in the Majors.”"
There is more speed on the way in the future. At the start of the season, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp fielded an outfield of Stone Garrett, Brian Miller, and Magneuris Sierra, which was one of the fastest trios in all of minor league baseball.
If this team cannot score runs by virtue of the long ball, maybe it can eke out an extra run or two by swiping bases.
I am not a huge stat guy when it comes to stolen bases and speed, but the numbers don’t lie about Berti and his effect on the team.
"“According to Statcast, Berti is 12th overall in sprint speed — averaging 29.8 feet per second. A competitive run is 27 feet. Of the 61 “competitive runs” tracked by Statcast, 15 are termed “Bolts,” faster than 30 feet per second,” as Frisaro points out."
The speed of the utility player isn’t lost on the coaching staff or front office. The fact Berti can play multiple positions makes him an even bigger strength for the ball club.
"“He’s a full-speed acceleration guy, where he’s at full speed quickly,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “If you’re going to be basestealer, or a guy who has that kind of burst, those guys are at full speed right away. A step. Step and a half. They’re going into gear quickly.”"