The Miami Marlins have a shot to finally have not just one, but multiple proud representatives in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. Last year, Jose Fernandez was a surprising sole representative for the team, and he acquitted himself quite well by dominating three of the American League's finest hitters. In 2014, one player is a clear lock to represent Miami; Giancarlo Stanton is currently third in the All-Star voting for the outfield, but he will almost certainly make the roster even if he is not voted as a starter by the fans.
But the Fish are playing well enough in 2014, especially offensively, that the team could sneak other players onto the National League roster as backups or pitchers. The team's crew of solid performers is rather surprising, even for fans who follow the team closely, so it is worth it to run our second annual Marlins All-Star Power Rankings to find possible candidates to join Stanton out in Target Field in Minnesota. Which Marlins have the best chance to line up with Stanton? Here are the top five rankings. All stats were from before Tuesday night's games.
1. Steve Cishek, RHP
The Marlins have had a hard time building a foundation to lead to Cishek in the ninth inning, but leads have been almost impenetrable when he takes over this season. Cishek converted 16 of 17 saves after picking up another on Tuesday, and his dominance is not inflated by the success in saves. Cishek is striking more batters out and walking fewer than ever before, and his ERA and FIP numbers accurately reflect that.
As of before Tuesday night, Cishek was only behind Craig Kimbrel in terms of FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement among relievers. Given that he has also almost converted all of his save chances, he seems a mortal lock for inclusion as one of the National League's relievers, and it would be as well-deserving a nod for a reliever as one could find.
Chances of Selection: 90 percent
2. Henderson Alvarez, RHP
Alvarez's no-hitter from the last game of 2013 got him some national notoriety, and his continued work in putting up dominant starts from time to time have only increased his spotlight. The injury to Jose Fernandez left the Marlins down a top-notch starter, but Alvarez has filled the void nicely by throwing efficient shutouts, otherwise known as Madduxes. From the linked Beyond the Box Score article:
Num Pitcher Madduxes 1 Greg Maddux 13 2 Zane Smith 7 3 Bob Tewksbury 6 4 Don Newcombe 6 5 Don Drysdale 5 6 Sandy Koufax 5 7 Tom Glavine 5 8 Bartolo Colon 4 9 Chris Bosio 4 10 Henderson Alvarez 4 11 James Shields 4 12 Jamie Moyer 4 13 Preacher Roe 4 14 Roy Halladay 4 15 14 tied with… 3
It is impressive, but unsurprising that Alvarez and his extreme ground ball tendencies have led to lower ERAs and low-pitch complete game shutouts. The fact that Alvarez has had three such games in his last 15 starts is impressive, but also rather arbitrary in its endpoints. The shutouts are hard to ignore, however, and his low pitch count game is built for endurance and extra innings other starters may not be able to squeeze.
Alvarez's problem is the tight competition in the National League. I count up to nine starters who would likely see the nod for the All-Star Game before Alvarez gets it based on ERA and pitcher win total. Alvarez would easily be among the first to get the call in case of injury, but there may be just too many starters in front of him, all of whom have more impressive strikeout numbers and national spotlights.
Chances of Selection: 20 percent
3. Casey McGehee, 3B
McGehee's biggest advantage in the race for backup third baseman is his dominance in two of the three traditional categories. He leads qualified National League third basemen in batting average (ahead of Luis Valbuena, who is having a very good season in Chicago!) and RBI with 44 to his name. Typically, that would make him a slam dunk of a candidate, but there are reasons why McGehee is not considered the top third baseman in the NL. For one, the third Triple Crown category is severely lacking; McGehee has just one home run this season.
His batting line is fourth-best in the NL among third basemen, but he sits behind six players in terms of WAR. It is safe to say his only real competition appears to be Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds, Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals, but that is three names for just one backup spot behind the eventual vote-getter, who may be the less-deserving David Wright or Pablo Sandoval.
Chances of Selection: 5 percent
4. Nathan Eovaldi, SP
Eovaldi had a shot at gaining traction in the starting pitching group, but unlike Alvarez, his ERA is not flashy enough to garner a lot of interest. Eovaldi does have the benefit of a wicked fastball, but the managers and players who select the pitchers at the All-Star team may not care about that over the superficial numbers. Eovaldi also does not rack up enough strikeouts to pique a lot of interest, so his gameplan has been to avoid walks and throw the ball really hard.
His chances can definitely go up with a few strong outings, but his ERA needs to be lower to be considered. The impressive 3.16 FIP, almost identical to Alvarez's, will not be considered when looking at All-Star selection.
Chances of Selection: 1 percent
5. Marcell Ozuna, OF
The outfield in the National League is stacked, so the odds of anyone sneaking in to the fifth or sixth spot undeservedly seems very slim. Ozuna has the right power numbers for the job, as his 12 home runs are tied for fourth among National League outfielders, but his batting line is merely good and not great, and he will get minimal consideration for playing center field.
The top four outfielders are set with Stanton, Yasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen, and Carlos Gomez. Two outfield spots remain, and names like Justin Upton, Charlie Blackmon, and Hunter Pence are going to get a lot of traction for an All-Star bid. Ozuna is a good deal away from that group.
Chances of Selection: Less than 1 percent