2012 Miami Marlins What Went Wrong: Failed Expectations

Marc Serota - Getty Images

The 2012 Miami Marlins Season Review continues with another aspect of What Went Right / What Went Wrong. This time, Fish Stripes delves into the players that failed to meet their preseason expectations on the 2012 Miami Marlins team.

The Miami Marlins were supposed to be an excellent team in 2012. At the very worst, they were supposed to be contenders for one of the two NL Wild Card spots, with perhaps even an outside chance at the NL East division crown given that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for a good chunk of the start of the season. As mentioned many times before on this blog, the Marlins were not hyped because of the team's flashy signings so much as it was due to the legitimate thought that those signings, combined with the right amount of regression, would lead to a combination that could compete in the National League.

Clearly, this did not happen in 2012, and it was the single biggest reason why the Marlins failed this year.

It is easy to blame injuries or any one given terrible month, but the truth was that the Marlins' inability to meet their reasonable preseason projections was the primary cause for the downfall of their 2012 season. Players on both the position player and pitcher sides failed to meet expectations as desired, and as a result the Marlins not only failed to reach their expected heights, but fell far from those levels by the end of the year.

Many times before on this blog, I have published tables with the Marlins' preseason expectations as hitters and their actual 2012 results. In a manner akin to the one used in the Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes reviews from earlier in this series, I will average the preseason expectations of the Steamer, ZiPS, RotoChamp, and FanGraphs Fans projections, many of which can be found in the Projections section of a player's FanGraphs page, and determine just how poorly they performed compared to their projection in 2012 given their PA. What follows is just how poorly the Opening Day lineup under-performed.

Marlins, 2012 PA Proj wOBA 2012 wOBA Run Diff
John Buck 398 .307 .283 -7.9
Gaby Sanchez 196 .345 .244 -16.4
Omar Infante 347 .313 .329 +4.6
Hanley Ramirez 395 .370 .329 -13.3
Jose Reyes 719 .354 .340 -8.3
Logan Morrison 334 .365 .307 -16.0
Emilio Bonifacio 274 .308 .311 +0.7
Giancarlo Stanton 501 .389 .404 +6.2

The table here shows just how poorly the offense did compared to what it was expected to do. Thanks to the relative failures of players like Gaby Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, and Logan Morrison, the Marlins' Opening Day lineup as a collective unit performed 50 runs, or five wins below their preseason expectations. Recall that the Marlins lost two wins from their expected total this season on injuries to crucial players. Just looking at those two factors, the 2012 Miami Marlins have already lost seven wins from their preaseason expected totals.

The Fish struggled with their hitting all year long, and it was particularly evident in those three players mentioned. Morrison, Ramirez, and Sanchez did not spend the entire year with the Marlins, yet they were the biggest contributors to the offense's struggles. None of the three players listed earned more than 400 PA with the team due to injuries, ineffectiveness, and trades, yet both Morrison and Sanchez cost the Marlins more than three wins on their own with their horrific performances at the plate. As for Ramirez, he showed at the early point of the season that his offense had not fully bounced back to its previous levels, and even in moving to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trade deadline, he has not shown that he is better than what he was in Miami.

Of the Marlins players listed above, only three of the eight met or exceeded expectations from before the season. We all knew Giancarlo Stanton would be mostly successful this season, and Omar Infante's early-season surge was a much-needed addition to the team's terrible offensive output at the beginning of the year. But even looking at Reyes's performance, he still failed to reach his expectations thanks to a poor month of April. John Buck missed his expected line thanks to hitting below the Mendoza line for much of the year; he hit poorly enough that he had to be replaced by rookie catcher Rob Brantly by August.

The Marlins hitters struggled mightily in 2012, but the pitching staff is not without blame as well. The Marlins expected their five-man rotation to stick for most of the season and provide a decent number of wins, and while Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle mostly delivered, even they did not quite play as well as desired.

Marlins, 2012 IP Proj ERA Actual ERA Actual FIP
Josh Johnson 191 1/3 2.99 3.81 3.40
Anibal Sanchez 121 3.74 3.94 3.43
Mark Buehrle 202 1/3 4.00 3.74 4.18
Ricky Nolasco 191 3.92 4.48 3.87
Carlos Zambrano* 115 4.20 4.54 4.68

You can tell that, of all the pitchers shown here, only Anibal Sanchez and Mark Buehrle succeeded in mostly meeting expectations. Josh Johnson was the biggest disappointment in the group, posting a 3.81 ERA when he was expected to run a 2.99 mark. If you credit the pitcher this season for the average between his ERA and FIP, Johnson allowed 14 more runs this year than expected, which is the most on the team.

Using that same method, you get that the Marlins' starting rotation as assembled on Opening Day was 24 runs worse that predicted before the season. That is at least worth two wins that the Marlins failed to pick up after they were expected to do so before the year. That brings the total from failed expectations to seven wins lost and a total, when added to injuries, of nine wins lost from their preseason expectations.

Of course, the likelihood that these projections were perfect and that the Marlins simply under-performed is probably delusional. It is far more likely that the players were overestimated before the season by a small amount and that they also under-performed even worse than their true talents. Nevertheless, these were the reasonable expectations of the 2012 Miami Marlins, and the actual team failed to meet any and all of them.

What did you Fish Stripes readers think of the Marlins' inability to meet expectations in 2012? Were the numbers (and everyone else) delusional, or did everything just go wrong all at once? Tell us in the comments.

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