The Miami Marlins had a lot of things go right on the pitching side of the ball, but on the offensive end, the 2013 Fish were among the worst in recent times. The Marlins' offense struggled in 2012 as well, and it should not have surprised anyone to see them take a fall this year with a downgraded group of personnel. But even after considering the natural regression of players like Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano and the weakened roster, no one could have expected an offensive performance as poor as the one we saw this year.
It all started when the Fish started Placido Polanco as their cleanup man on Opening Day, and it continued from there. The Fish hit just .224/.286/.308 (.269 wOBA) in the month of April, and it did not get any better after that.
Think about those numbers for a second. As bad as the Marlins' offense was last season, the team only matched the season wOBA of the 2012 Fish in one of the five months of play in 2013. The team's best month coincided with the return of Giancarlo Stanton. but the FIsh had Stanton continuously for the final three-and-a-half months of the season and could not muster a line better than a .293 wOBA, which is worse than all but eight qualified Major League players hit all season long.
Collectively, this franchise's .231/.293/.335 batting line (.279 wOBA) was worse than all but three qualified Major Leaguers hit all year. One of those three players, Adeiny Hechavarria, was on the Marlins, which actually helps explain why the team hit so poorly. The franchise hit worse than known batsmen such as Eric Young (.249/.310/.336), Zack Cozart (.254/.284/.381), and Brandon Crawford (.248/.311/.363).
The team was one of only two franchises that mustered less than a .300 OBP as a collective unit. The Fish were tied for 22nd in walk rate for the year but was dead last in batting average and third-to-last in BABIP. But the on-base problems were not nearly as embarrassing as the team's woeful power production. Mired in a home park that suppresses home runs, the Fish were the only team in Major League Baseball that failed to hit more than 100 homers in a season. Since the team's inception in 1993, only 12 teams have hit fewer than 100 homers in a season.
All of this is to say that the Marlins were particularly bad offensively, and it is easy to see why. The Fish depended on a number of no-name journeyman minor leaguers or veterans at the end of the line at various positions. At third base, the team turned to names like Placido Polanco (.257/.302/.327), Ed Lucas (.256/.311/.336), and the immortal Greg Dobbs (.228/.303/.300) for a large amount of playing time. Ditto for catcher, where Jeff Mathis (.181/.251/.284) and Rob Brantly (.211/.263/.265) struggled throughout the season. Combine that with poor play at shortstop and second base and the Marlins essentially had no offensive production from four positions on the field.
Consider the additional problem of the Marlins getting disappointing results from Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Justin Ruggiano as well. The offense from 2012 survived because Stanton had a monster season and Ruggiano broke out. This year, the Fish not only lost Jose Reyes from the offense, but they also saw Stanton take a huge step backwards in production and Ruggiano fall hard to regression. The Fish lost a lot of the positive they were expecting to hold up the fort for the remaining offensive blanks, and as a result, the entire offense collapsed.
The Marlins are looking to improve on the team's terrible offense this offseason, but the question will be how they will achieve this. The Fish have four positions where they cannot expect significant production, and the team's budget prevents them from making realistic signings. They have trade assets in young starting pitching, but not enough to cover for all of the holes in their offense. It appears as though the 2014 Marlins will also have issues scoring runs.