Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: Miami Marlins


When the Miami Marlins finished their 2016 season, no one cared what their record was because of an unthinkable tragedy.  Will the Marlins be able to recover and have a successful 2017 season?

My 2016 Predictions
3rd in NL East
Giancarlo Stanton will play a full season and hit 55+ home runs.

2016 Results
79-82, 3rd in NL East
Looking at the numbers, the Miami Marlins had a successful season as they once again took a step forward as one of the fun young teams to watch.  However, none of that mattered after the morning of September 25, when ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident.  This led to that night's game being cancelled (hence only the 161 games played) and one of the most tragic weeks in baseball history as the Marlins struggled to finish the season while missing their emotional leader.  What was an encouraging sign of a bright future for the franchise, 2016 turned into a season that left them lost and wondering where to turn.  As for my Fearless Prediction, once again injuries kept Stanton from playing a full season.  We are still waiting to see what heights he can reach if he could stay on the field fr a full season.

Additions / Subtractions
Jose Fernandez's untimely death left a huge hole in this team that was going to be hard to fill.  On a positive note, the Marlins' roster is mostly unchanged moving into 2017.  They did sign a couple pitchers to try and fill Fernandez's shoes.  Edinson Volquez, following some successful seasons with the Royals, is now considered the ace of the Marlins with fellow newcomer Dan Straily sliding into the #2 spot.

Most Important Hitter
Giancarlo Stanton
Like I have already stated, a full season of a healthy Giancarlo Stanton would be a sight to see.  Unfortunately, this has yet to happen in his young career.  Stanton is the heart of this order and the player that makes it work.  When he isn't in the lineup, the Marlins have few places to turn for power despite a strong lineup.  If they are to be successful in 2017, they need a full season from Stanton.

Most Important Pitcher
Adam Conley
Adam Conley had flashes of brilliance in 2016.  The problem was they were only flashes.  This is fine for a pitcher entering only his second full season in the big leagues, but with Jose Fernandez gone, the Marlins' pitching staff is now looking quite old.  Conley, at 27, is the youngest pitcher in their projected starting five and really the only one that hasn't already hit his ceiling.  Conley showed flashes of being a star in 2016.  They need him to be a star in 2017.

Player to Watch
Brian Anderson
The Marlins continue to sport one of the worst farm systems in all of baseball, only having one player in the Top 100 Prospects (who won't be major league ready for another couple seasons).  This leaves little chance at getting any rookies this season that could have a noticeable impact on the team.  One that might have a chance is infielder Brian Anderson.  If injuries derail the seasons of any of the Marlins' starting infielders, look for Anderson to get a chance to prove himself with the big club.

2017 Prediction
4th in NL East
I love the Marlins' lineup.  From Stanton to Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, JT Realmuto, and Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins have an incredible young core of hitters.  The problem is their pitching.  Jose Fernandez's death might be one of the most tragic events in recent baseball history.  Not only was he only 24 years old with his entire life, let alone his baseball career, in front of him, but he was one of two or three pillars on which the Marlins were building this franchise.  With his tragic passing, they lost all momentum that may have been built in 2016.  It also left their starting rotation looking like one of the worst in the league.  They need more than Volquez and Straily to stabilize and solidify this pitching staff.  Unless they fix their pitching soon, they might waste the great window they have with their young lineup.

Fearless Prediction
The Marlins will trade for Jose Quintana mid-season.
Like I said, the Marlins need to do something big to fix their rotation.  Jose Quintana is the biggest arm available on the trading market.  The Marlins don't have a farm system to put together a monster package of prospects like other teams have done, but I think they can figure something out to make something like this happen.  Quintana would be a great fit for any team, but considering the Latin presence in Miami, Quintana might be able to appeal to the community at large in a way Jose Fernandez was able to.

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