Miami Marlins benefiting from 'small ball' approach

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins' power numbers early in the season have been noteworthy. But the squad's ability to advance runners for the middle of the lineup has led to offensive success.

Looking to improve upon a historically unproductive offense, the Miami Marlins' front office added several veteran players who are known for their ability to be consistent at the plate. For much of last season, the Marlins used a "small ball" approach to try and score runs. And utilizing the same mentality despite a significant increase in power, the Marlins' youthful roster has benefited from Brett Butler's belief that successful bunting is the key to success.

Manager Mike Redmond hasn't been shy about deciding when and if to bunt early in the season. While asking Giancarlo Stanton or Casey McGehee to drop down a bunt is unrealistic, the versatility of Marcell Ozuna, Ed Lucas, and Adeiny Hechavarria has given Redmond options when deciding how to manage late situations.

Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Henderson Alvarez have all shown that they can advance a runner late in the order, and the job of Miami's pitching staff has directly assisted the Marlins' offense.

Although Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are among the Marlins who have tried to bunt away from an infield shift, Christian Yelich, a nice surprise atop Miami's lineup, is taking advantage of both his speed and situational awareness, having bunted for four base hits thus far.

Yelich said bunting had never been part of his repertoire before working on it with third-base coach Brett Butler this season. Butler had 185 bunt hits in a 17-year career.

"It’s something that I’m comfortable with and glad that we’ve put a lot of time into it," Yelich said. "I’m not going to tell you when I decide to do it or what dictates that. Even when it is there, sometimes it’s not a situation to do it in."

With a revamped lineup, the power of Stanton, McGehee, and even Derek Dietrich has led to an improved offensive performance. But being involved in close games late, the Marlins' depth both in the lineup and on the bench has allowed them to manufacture runs when necessary.

When the Marlins struggled to score runs in 2013, they often were unable to move baserunners and put together small rallies. Something as minor as bunting, thanks to assistance of Butler, has quietly aided the offensive reconstruction.

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