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The 2013 Miami Marlins should manage their left and center field positions on a platoon basis to start the year. This serves to make them better for the present and potentially better in the future.
Editor's Note: I will not be able to post today thanks to a hectic school schedule. Fish Stripes will return to its regularly scheduled work week on Thursday. For now, enjoy Andrew Townes's opinion on the Marlins' outfield platoon.
The Miami Marlins are in a true rebuilding mode. Aside from Giancarlo Stanton in right field, who might himself be traded, the Marlins have no position players that have proven themselves to be everyday major league starters. The Marlins, instead, have an abundance of players that bring an even greater number of question marks.
The 2013 season, as much as I don't like to say it, is basically a lost cause. The Marlins will not win many games, they will not contend with Washington or Atlanta. I am however, still holding out hope for 70-plus wins and finishing better than fifth in the division, but nonetheless the Marlins have a large margin for error in 2013. They can mess up whatever they want and face little to no consequences for it, so I think they should take as many chances as possible. Specifically, I think they should start the season with a pure platoon in both left field and center field.
The Marlins have two righty outfielders in Justin Ruggiano and Gorky's Hernandez and two lefties named Chris Coghlan and Juan Pierre. As has been addressed many times, Justin Ruggiano is due to regress mostly because of his unsustainable .401 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in 2012. Ruggiano could very well become the answer for the Marlins in the outfield; I'm just not comfortable declaring him an everyday starter based on his performance in 320 plate appearances. His overall .390 wOBA in 2012 is projected to regress down to a .320 wOBA, and that's overall. Against righty pitchers specifically, Ruggiano had a .425 BABIP to support his .352 wOBA, compared to his .354 BABIP against lefties supporting his .462 wOBA against lefties. Basically, Ruggiano was a better offensive player against lefties than he was against righties and as is the traditional explanation of a high BABIP, Ruggiano got luckier against righties than he did lefties.
I propose a platoon of sorts, much like the one that was mentioned earlier this week by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Chris Coghlan owns a career .333 wOBA against righties and from what I can tell is completely overlooked as a 2013 Marlins outfielder. Gorkys Hernandez and Juan Pierre seem to be getting their fair look after Gorkys filled out his .367/.436/.469 slash line in over 200 PAs in the Venezuelan Winter League. His MLB numbers thus far have been unimpressive...but he deserves a chance. As does Juan Pierre. As the year progresses and players get playing time things should pan out, and the Marlins should have a better idea of who their best players are. Giving everyone playing time hitting what they are best at hitting would probably help the team both win more games and get a better idea of who they should play in future. As games are played and Marlins management sees who their best players are they could consider breaking away from a platoon if it is what makes them best. For now, a platoon in both left field and center field seems like the best way to start out the year.