Marlins Early Struggles Reminder of Last June Swoon

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: Infielder Gaby Sanchez #15 of the Miami Marlins throws his bat after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Marlins Park on June 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

The Miami Marlins have just come from suffering a second straight sweep and a sixth straight loss yesterday, this time at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. The loss puts the team just two games over .500 and in fourth place in a division in which they shared a hold of first place when the home stand started last week. Overall, the Fish are just 2-7 so far this month, and this record is quite reflective of the way they have played.

Marlins Runs Scored Runs Allowed Win% Pythag Win%
June 24 54 .222 .180

Clearly, the Marlins have not been exactly losing close battle so far this month. Amid a couple of close games were an 11-0 blowout and a 13-4 loss among other beatings, so the Fish have been taken to the woodshed in some of these games recently.

All of these lopsided losses, along with the general dismay of a losing streak, are getting Marlins fans a little concerned. See, last season the Fish suffered a terrible month of June, and the memory of that nightmare of a month is still fresh in fans' heads.

Looking Back

It is still early, but let us look at how that June went versus this one.

Marlins Runs Scored Runs Allowed Win% Pythag Win%
June 2012 24 54 .222 .180
June 2011 81 128 .179 .306

It should not be too surprising to hear that the Marlins were unlucky to have even suffered through that kind of month last season. By Pythagenpat based on their runs scored and allowed, the Fish probably should have been closer to eight wins last season in June. This year, the Marlins so far have actually been closer to one win than two.

How is the team doing in terms of hitting this year as opposed to last season (all numbers prior to yesterday's game)?

Marlins AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC/Game
June 2012 .237 .311 .398 .309 4.0
June 2011 .225 .284 .340 .278 3.1

And how about the pitching?

Marlins K% BB% HR% ERA FIP
June 2012 16.8 7.9 3.5 6.34 4.62
June 2011 19.0 8.4 2.8 4.17 4.12

As you can see, the two teams had two different struggles in the two different Junes. For the Florida Marlins of 2011, the problem was clearly hitting, as the team hit a terrible .225/.284/.340 as a collective unit and could only muster 3.1 runs per game according to wOBA. The Marlins of this season, in stark contrast, are actually not hitting terribly. Sure, they are not hitting as well as they did in May, but the team is hitting just about what they hit all season long. And if you have heard the local TV or radio broadcasts, you would know that that the problem the Marlins are having right now is just a matter of not producing with runners in scoring position or on base. If the Fish had spread their hits out more evenly and delivered a few more with hits with runners on, the team could have easily scored four runs a game this month; ironically, that is pretty much what the team was averaging by the end of May.

The Fish of this year, on the other hand, have struggled much more with pitching, but even that is not all that terrible. The club has allowed a few more homers than expected, but overall the team can do better and should, provided the injury to Carlos Zambrano is as mild as Ozzie Guillen says it is and that Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson stay on track alongside the metronome of Mark Buehrle. The team's pitching staff was built to be dependable with a wild card or two, but so far in June even the most dependable have struggled. Going forward, the rotation should be fine.

Personnel Changes

This year's team is so drastically different from last year's club that it is barely comparable. It is, however, important to recognize that the players from last season were at a distinct disadvantage when June came around. Hanley Ramirez had begun to swing his way out of his problems and was hitting a little better than he had been during the season up to that point. Then he injured his shoulder and missed half of the month and eventually the rest of the season. Josh Johnson had been long gone at that point and missed the first of many expected return dates. The Fish were left without their two top players and struggled mightily at the plate, with only Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton managing league average batting lines according to wRC+.

This year's team is only currently missing one player, and that is Emilio Bonifacio. With the promotion of Gaby Sanchez back to the majors, the club is back to almost full strength, with its rotation, bullpen, and starting lineup mostly intact. The only problem has been its struggles with runners on and a few ugly starts that have thrown off the Pythagenpat estimates of the team's skill. Going forward, the Marlins' offense should be better with this lineup than it was last season, and the healthy pitching staff should only be a boon to the team's chances.

So the reality is that this year should be nothing like last season. Indeed, it took a historic amount of bad luck to lose as many games as the Fish did last year, so expecting that this season would be highly pessimistic. The Marlins are a good club that ran into two good teams and an offensive drought. It has happened to the best of teams. Barring another large heap of bad luck, the team should do better. These two series were going to be tough, and this entire month's schedule seems difficult, so Marlins fans should have been braced for a difficult road ahead. Hopefully the team has gotten through most of the bumps early.

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