The Case for Yuli Gurriel as an Everyday Marlins Starter

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins
Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins / Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/GettyImages

The acquisition of Yuli Gurriel in the offseason by the Miami Marlins was not necessarily intended for him to be the everyday starter at first base but if you look at his play and stats to date, he might end up as the guy. Garrett Cooper has been the everyday starter at first for the Marlins but his stats while playing first have been less than enthusiastic. Cooper did miss a few weeks this season but nothing that would totally derail his numbers.

Starting with Garret Cooper's numbers as a comparison, Cooper has had a good amount more playing time than Gurriel and with little more return on his time. Cooper has hit five home runs and driven in 19 runs while scoring just nine. Cooper's current slash line for the season sits at .239/.280/.403 with an OPS at .683 which is well below his career .778 OPS and his WAR sits at 0.1. His exit velocity is around the same as his career average at 91.2 but his BAbip is down at .307 from .340 and his strikeout percentage is up four percent this year from 25.4 to 29.4%, which doesn't bode well for an offense in need of scoring runs.

Now the case for Yuli Gurriel is one of improvement. Gurriel had an off year last year offensively and had a final slash line of .242/.288/.360 and a .647 OPS while hitting 8 home runs and driving in 53. This season he is back, closer to his 2021 gold glove season production. Gurriel currently has a slash line of .299/.342/.458 with an OPS of .800, which is close to his 2021 numbers when he hit .319 for the season with an .846 OPS.

the Marlins will win more games with Yuli at first base

Gurriel bests Cooper in OPS+ easily at 118 compared to Coopers 85, and Gurriel's strikeout percentage is way down at 9.4 percent and in even more stark of a contrast Gurriel's RE24 average sits at 0.7, which is above average, compared to Coopers -4.3. This is where the rubber meets the road for a high performance position and why Gurriel needs more time. This is also why Gurriel bests Cooper in WAR at 0.4 over 0.1 and oWAR at 0.5 over -0.1. If Cooper is going to get more at-bats, he needs to produce a lot more than he has to date. If nothing changes, the Marlins will win more games with Yuli at first base, hands down.

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