The Miami Marlins had a rough go of it from their center field position in 2019.
Lewis Brinson, namely, had a horrible campaign from front to back. After clubbing five homers in Spring Training, Brinson didn’t hit any through the entire regular season. Although he ranked 11th on the Miami Marlins with 248 plate appearances, he only slashed .173/.236/.221. His -1.7 fWAR was the second worst mark in the majors, behind only former Miami Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis (-2.1).
It’s pretty clear that Brinson didn’t work out, and is not the successor to Christian Yelich as we had hoped soon after the trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. JT Riddle was tried in center for 31 games, ranking second on the team. Although he hit six homers in 139 PA, his slashline was only marginally better than Brinson, at .189/.230/.371.
In total, nine players manned center field for the Miami Marlins at one time or another in 2019, including Harold Ramirez (27), Rosell Herrera (25), Jon Berti (21), Cesar Puello (20), Isaac Galloway (13), Magneuris Sierra (9) and Yadiel Rivera (1). Although Berti had a great showing, he’s probably earmarked for the “super-utility” role, formerly held by the likes of Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas.
2020’s Opening Day Miami Marlins CF
Magneuris Sierra will win the center field spot with a strong Spring Training. Arriving to the Marlins via the Marcell Ozuna trade after the 2017 campaign, Sierra posted an anemic .190/.222/.211 in 156 PA for the 2018 Marlins. Worse, he struck out 39 times while drawing only six walks. His much-talked-about speed resulted in three stolen bases in five attempts, and he committed four errors in 358 2/3 innings in the field.
After a season spent maturing in the minors, mostly with the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League, Sierra rejoined the Miami Marlins on September 3rd.
The difference between 2018 Sierra and 2019 Sierra was apparent to anyone paying attention. Despite joining a last-place team, Sierra played like he belonged in the major leagues. In 15 games, he went 14-for-40 with a double, a triple, three stolen bases, and five runs scored. Defensively, he took 25 chances without an error, even pitching in with two outfield assists between center and right field.
Failing Sierra starting on Opening Day, other possibilities include surprise rookie-fan-favorite Harold Ramirez. It’s also prudent to consider Brian Miller‘s progression through the minors. He looked solid last season for the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League. He hit .265/.326/.354 in 120 contests while playing there, stealing 22 bases.
After joining the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, Miller has continued to hit at around the same clip, and has stolen another nine bases in only 24 games.
And don’t forget the free agent market. I don’t think the Miami Marlins are going to sign Curtis Granderson for another season, but it’s possible they go fishing for a free agent such as Starling Marte or Juan Lagares.