Can the Miami Marlins make enough of a move in their division to have a say in which team wins the National League East?
I’m not ready to anoint the Miami Marlins as the next team to rise from last place in their division to make the playoffs, but I am going to be one of those writers who believe this team will be better than the last-place team in Major League Baseball.
We know the Derek Jeter has no patience for losing, which is something he’s having to deal with down in South Florida, as he spoke in an interview in the New York Post last week. But these Marlins, as young as they are, should win more than 57 games as they did in 2019 and could make a move towards the 75-win plateau that many of us have talked about.
Manager Don Mattingly has what should be his best roster in the past three seasons, with a good mixture of veterans who can hit for average and power, and a group of neophytes who are still learning to play on the professional level. And if you haven’t noticed, the pitching staff should be better with yet another year of experience to go around.
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The Marlins made offseason moves during Hot Stove to acquire more arms for the bullpen and addressed their most pressing need – hitters who could launch balls out of the park.
It might be that the best way to know if this franchise is about to make some noise in the division is by the stories and comments from writers who cover their opponents. As Ryan Finkelstein of metsmerizedonline.com wrote…
"“While the Marlins are likely to remain bottom-feeders in the NL East, don’t expect them to be quite the same pushover in 2020,’ he said.“The seeds of their rebuild began to bear fruit last year, as Sandy Alcantara proved to be a quality starting pitcher with a 2.9 bWAR season. Alcantara made 32 starts atop Miami’s rotation and pitched to a 3.88 ERA.”"
Pitching will remain the team’s strength in 2020, but the team’s hitting, where they were only .241 as a ballclub last season, should be much improved because of free Hot Stove additions and changes to the coaching staff. Injured players like Brian Anderson will return to the lineup and there are plenty of prospects to get excited about at all four levels of their minor league system.
This could be one of Mattingly‘s toughest seasons as a manager, but by all accounts, it should also be one of his most rewarding accomplishments. When he was given a two-year extension by Jeter prior to the end of 2019, many fans and some media members balked at the idea. Seeing how everything is beginning to move forward now makes sense.
"“Now all of this is not to say that the Marlins are suddenly going to contend for the division in 2020. It would take an epic collapse from any of the top four teams in the NL East for Miami to finish anywhere but last place,” Finkelstein added."