Last week, we began discussing the Miami Marlins' potential lone All-Star Game representative, and we began a preliminary list of players who could be that one man. This week, some of those Marlins players have succeeded, some have struggled, and there have definitely been changes to the Marlins All-Star Power Rankings that debuted last week.
What are those changes? Let's take a look at the list!
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP (Last week: 1)
Since last week's article was published, Fernandez made two starts, and they were both dandies. He has since lowered both his ERA and FIP while more or less maintaining his strikeout and walk rates. He has also pitched more innings, as he averaged just about seven innings each of his last two starts. The improved rate of innings pitched, thanks to the removal of his lower pitch count, has certainly helped Fernandez pump up his gaudy rookie numbers thus far. He remains the team's best chance at Rookie of the Year, and right now he still tops the Marlins' All-Star representative list.
2. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (Last week: 4)
Ah, what wonders a week back on the field can do for a man. Last week, Stanton had barely returned, having just come back on Tuesday and played two games total. Since then, however, he has hit .391/.462/.913 with three home runs and three doubles among his nine total hits. That has catapulted his batting line back up to respectable Stanton levels, though he still is not hitting where he was projected to hit before the season.
The hot streak has not necessarily improved certain other aspects of his game, but the Marlins desperately needed the old Stanton to return at the plate, and he has. If he can muster up another seven home runs or otherwise dazzle the casual baseball crowd this month somehow, he should easily leapfrog Fernandez on name recognition alone.
3. Ricky Nolasco, RHP (Last week: 3)
Ricky Nolasco has been a model of consistency...
Wait, did I just say that?
Yes, Ricky Nolasco has been oddly consistent given his significant history of bouts of bad starts mixed in with brilliance. In what is almost certainly his final season in south Florida, he has shown off that he can be a mid-rotation cog on a contending team, as he is putting up Anibal Sanchez (2012 version) numbers and making himself attractive for a contender at the trade deadline. If the Marlins could get the sort of value they got out of Sanchez from trading Nolasco, they would be ecstatic.
For now, however, Nolasco is with the Marlins and he has been good. He put up a solid start at the tail end of the St. Louis Cardinals series, going seven innings and striking out four batters with one walk and one run allowed. He will likely need help to beat out Fernandez and Stanton, but if either falters, Nolasco's sudden consistency (what?) could get him in the game.
4. Marcell Ozuna (Last week: 2)
Ah, the fickle nature of BABIP has finally bitten Marcell Ozuna. The rookie who was playing so well at the start of the season has hit just .203/.239/.297 (.236 wOBA) in June. Since Stanton and Logan Morrison returned to the lineup, Ozuna has just four hits in 37 plate appearances. That power still has not come back, and we cannot be sure if Ozuna is still just focusing on "being a .300 hitter" right now or if that tool just has not shone as brightly as expected. Without that power, Ozuna's slump has severely affected his batting line.
His defense is still keeping that WAR total afloat, but the players and coaches may not know that he has been as spectacular as he is (I suspect Terry Collins and the New York Mets do, however). If he continues to struggle, you have to figure his name may fall out of favor entirely.
5. Justin Ruggiano, OF (Last week: 5)
Yes, that's right, our fifth-best candidate for the All-Star Game is a bench player.
That's no slight on Ruggiano, who made only two starts this past week and still managed four hits, including his team-leading ninth home run of the season.
Yes, the Marlins' team leader in home runs is on the bench.
This week actually pushed Ruggiano up a couple of notches on the WAR stat, leaving him at around 1.4 wins for the season. That is the highest mark for a position player on the Marlins.
Yes, the Marlins' team leader in WAR is a bench player.
Ruggiano's nice week may yet convince Mike Redmond to start him more often, but the problem is that Juan Pierre has found life after being awful at the plate for two months. Pierre's hot streak in June (.344/.373/.438, .354 wOBA) has pushed Ruggiano aside despite his own little hot streak this month (.360/.385/.480, .380 wOBA in 26 plate appearances). As long as Pierre is hitting, Ruggiano will not even get platoon time it seems, so his odds at an All-Star bid, especially with his low batting average, seem very long.