The Miami Marlins will not have a successful 2020 season if these three players are lost for a considerable amount of time.
Baseball really is a team sport. While there are plenty of singular moments that define a season and a franchise, the nine who walk onto the grass and the bench and bullpen are the foundation for both success and failure. The Marlins are learning this in the rebuilding of their stagnant organization.
"“Baseball teams are a collective. The impact of a single individual is limited by the format of the sport, the length of the season, the size of the roster,” writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.“Last year, the Nationals didn’t just survive the departure of their former franchise face in free agency; they won the whole darn thing.”"
The Marlins aren’t to that point yet. And when Castrovince wrote his piece on one player from every MLB team that franchises cannot do without, he pointed to the organization’s top prospect, Sixto Sanchez.
"“To their credit, the Marlins have made attempts to improve their competitiveness in 2020. But their focus is still on the future, and nobody in their system commands as much interest as this J.T. Realmuto trade acquisition, who manager Don Mattingly already jokes is a first-name-only type of celebrity (just call him “Sixto”) in Miami. Now, MLB Pipeline’s No. 22 overall prospect just needs to debut in 2020 … and be the guiding light in a rebuild centered largely around pitching,” Castrovince wrote."
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I’m personally not sold on Sanchez being the best pitcher in the Marlins organization at the moment. But for the purposes of rankings and reviews, we shall leave my comments for later. Miami’s front office and Mattingly have done a great job preparing for this moment of progression.
But an injury or two could turn things around in a hurry and leave the Marlins playing the waiting game for next season.
Based on what roster projections are, here are three players this ball club cannot do without for a long period of time this season.
Brian Anderson has all the makings of being the next Larry Walker. It’s not an overstatement. Anderson is learning to hit for average, displayed better power last season and has a sick glove, whether it is in the outfield or at third base.
The centerpiece of the lineup and one of the cornerstone pieces of this rebuilding process is going to get better with age and experience. He missed the last month of the 2019 season where he had already hit 20 home runs and had 66 RBI. The Marlins can ill-afford to miss him for an extended period of time.
Anderson should start the season at third base, which he has done the previous two seasons. Don’t rule out him roaming the outfield again on the right side. But if the coaching staff is smart and they take advantage of him in the second spot in the batting order, there is no reason to believe he cannot approach 30 dingers this season.
When Smith, who started the 2019 season on fire, is in his zone and striking out batters with great control, there are few who are better on the bump. Smith had his issues with injuries last season and was not the same pitcher in the second half of 2019 that he was at the beginning.
With a supporting cast that will score more runs this season, Smith, Alcantara and the remainder of the Marlins rotation could be much improved and one of the better starting fives in all of Major League Baseball.
I predicted earlier this offseason that Smith and Alcantara will win between 15-17 games this coming season. I am not coming off that “leap” but both of them must remain consistent and throw with heat and control for that to happen.
There are things in baseball that mean more than swinging for the fences and striking out 300 batters in a season. The game is made up of nuances and strategy and leadership. That’s where Miguel Rojas comes in.
Rojas, the team’s starting shortstop, will never be mistaken for Cal Ripken and his power or Ozzie Smith and his defense. What he is known as is being the most respected player in the clubhouse and the guy who will help these young players make the transition from the minors to The Show.
Rojas is a clutch hitter and can play multiple positions for the Marlins. Most of all, he takes the place of Martin Prado as the captain on the field and the guy who will rally the troops when needed.
For those reasons, he is worth every penny to Mattingly and his staff.
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