The Miami Marlins' replacement-level offense (so far)

Marc Serota

Yesterday the Miami Marlins were shut out for the third time on the season in the home opener. While it is a shame that the Marlins disappointed when many eyes were on them, it hardly means that the Marlins offense is broken beyond repair.

Yesterday, the Miami Marlins had their home opener against the Atlanta Braves. The over 34,000 fans in attendance to the game were treated to a game where the Marlins scored exactly zero runs, which is unacceptable especially when this is the third of seven games on the season where the Marlins failed to cross home plate.

With 14 runs scored on the season, the Marlins rank 27th in the league, but according to wRC+, a statistic that attempts to quantify offensive production in terms of runs, the Marlins have the 24th-best offense in MLB. That is actually pretty good considering the Marlins' top three hitters in the lineup; Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Giancarlo Stanton currently sport nifty wOBAs of .239, .252, .270 respectively. This is a net of .210 below expectations (ZiPs projections) for wOBA by these three players who bat in the top third of the order. In all likelihood, these players, especially Giancarlo Stanton (who will hit more than zero home runs in 2013), will start to actually hit soon enough.

That may not be soon enough for the Marlins to contend, but I do not quite think anyone expects that. Before the season, I liked to look at the Miami Marlins; lineup as the Houston Astros with Giancarlo Stanton. A lineup filled with mediocre major leaguers and one of the best hitters in the league. Not a recipe for success, but also not a recipe for utter incompetence.

So far the Marlins' three shutouts put them on pace to be shutout 69 times on the season. This would more than double the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals record of 33 shutouts in a season. I record that I have little fear the Marlins will break. So expect the rate at which the Miami Marlins get shutout to greatly improve as the season goes on.

One of my favorite statistics of the 2013 Miami Marlins is the 0.0 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) value for the team. If Wins Above Replacement is to be taken literally, the Miami Marlins would have been just as well off starting a team filled entirely of replacement level players. Really though, this figure can be attributed to the small sample size of a season we have had so far. Small samples can do wacky things. Robinson Cano of the Yankees went into Mondays game with a below-awful wRC+ of -8, he finished the game with an excellent 117 wRC+.

Do not fret Marlins fans. The season is still early and the Marlins do not appear to be the worst. Crazy things can happen early in the season and just as the first seven games have put the Marlins offense towards the bottom of the league behind Giancarlo Stanton's lack of production at the plate, the next one, two or 10 games could provide huge improvements in Marlins offensive numbers and hopefully less shutouts.

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