Are the Miami Marlins Really Historically Bad? A KC Series Primer

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 03: Jorge Soler #12 of the Kansas City Royals rounds the bases after hitting his 39th home run of the year, a single-season club record, during the 3rd inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 03, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 03: Jorge Soler #12 of the Kansas City Royals rounds the bases after hitting his 39th home run of the year, a single-season club record, during the 3rd inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 03, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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We all think that the Miami Marlins are historically bad, but are they really?

Yes, the Miami Marlins are bad enough to claim the title as “Worst Team in the National League,” but there are two clubs in the American League who are still behind them in the win-loss column. There’s a decent chance that the Marlins actually finish in front of four of them to finish with the number five draft pick in 2020.

The Miami Marlins were predicted by virtually everyone with a computer to finish last in the N.L. East, and that has, indeed, come to pass. Although mathematically, they can still pass the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies in the standings, it’s not going to happen. They’re currently 21.5 games behind the fourth place Mets with 24 games to play.

Earlier this month, I posited that the Marlins could make a charge and finish with fewer than 100 losses. I know that’s aiming low, but even a moral victory at this point seems like a bright spot to a dismal season. Since I wrote that, the Fish have gone 2-5, making a 100-loss season even more likely. At 49-89, they’ll need to go 14-10 or better to turn the trick. After tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, they’ll have three at home against the Kansas City Royals. Four against the Milwaukee Brewers, followed by a West Coast road trip with three each versus the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks precedes the 10-game N.L. East finale for the Marlins. They’ll end with three versus the Washington Nationals, then four against the Mets and three more against the Phillies.

The Royals are one of the three teams that will likely finish worse than the Miami Marlins, and the good guys stand the best chance of coming out of that series with a win. After that, only the Giants have a losing record amongst Miami’s coming foes.

For history’s sake, I think the best the Marlins can reasonably hope to accomplish with the remainder of this season is to finish better than the franchise-worst 54-108 low-water mark, “accomplished” in 1998 (as defending World Series Champions, no less).

All that to note that despite how bad we here in South Florida think these Miami Marlins are, there are two teams looking up at them in the standings, one in a virtual tie, and one more in shouting distance in the A.L.

Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals Comparison

The aforementioned Royals are a team that we’ll get to see first hand here at Marlins Park for three games this weekend. A 51-89 record paints the Royals as the A.L. doppelgänger for these Marlins, and there are actual similarities. Miami’s 122 home runs is far-and-away the lowest mark in the majors, while Kansas City, with 142, ranks 28th. It’s the same comparison at OPS+, with a mark of 76 for the Marlins and 85 for the Royals. Again, ranked 30th and 28th respectively.

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On the other hand, Kansas City’s 105 stolen bases is tied for the major league lead, with the Texas Rangers, while the Marlins, with 39, rank third from the bottom in front of only the Minnesota Twins and the Giants. The Marlins are slightly better at pitching than the Royals staff as well. With 8.7 K’s per nine innings, the Marlins rank in the middle of the major league pack, while Kansas City’s 7.8 is the second worst mark. In addition, Miami’s 1.343 collected WHIP is the closest to the actual major league average of any team, and KC’s 1.472 is again, second to worst. Ready for a little good news? Miami has allowed 8.2 H/9 this season, which is third-best in the NL and sixth best in the majors. The Royals have given up 9.6 per nine, third worst in front of the Colorado Rockies, the Detroit Tigers and tied with the Baltimore Orioles.

But before we get three shots at the boys in blue, the Marlins have to close out their series against the Buccos in beautiful PNC Park tonight. Don’t forget also, the Marlins farm has two teams still active in the minor league postseason. The Batavia Muckdogs lead the Lowell Spinners, one-game-to-zero in the NYPL Semifinals, and the Clinton LumberKings lead the Kane County Cougars by the same margin in the Midwest League Quarterfinals. Both series are best-of-three, and both series will see their respective game two during tonight’s Miami Marlins/Pittsburgh Pirates finale. You can catch the LumberKings, at least, on MILB.TV, here.

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