The Miami Marlins, after an injury setback to Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals. finally received their second deserving All-Star representative. The Fish are sending two men to the game tonight: Giancarlo Stanton and Henderson Alvarez. Both players have had strong seasons so far this year, and it is not surprise that they were selected to honor the Fish in tonight's contest. How have we gotten to this point? Let's highlight the seasons of our two Marlins All-Stars.
Stanton was likely to have a bounce back season after last year's struggles, but who could have thought that it would happen in such a tremendous fashion? He got off to a wicked start and just kept going all season long, batting .269/.342/.565 (.376 wOBA) and put up two more months of nearly .400 wOBA hitting before struggling through the month of July so far. Stanton's 21 home runs lead the National League so far, and he is on pace by projections to reach 35 to 37 homers by the end of the season. If he could hit a few more homers this month and get back on track, he has a decent shot at breaking his career mark of 37 homers and maybe reaching 40 homers for the first time in his career.
Stanton has done everything right at the plate. His power is back, save for this month of July. His home run per fly ball rate was around 24 percent, right near his career mark, before July rolled around. He has dropped his strikeout rate to a career low so far at 25.2 percent. His walk rate is holding steady thanks to pitchers continuing to avoid him in the strike zone. He has hit the ball hard enough to get a surprisingly high .365 BABIP that, while unsustainable, continues his long-standing trend of getting high BABIP's in his career. His defense is back now that he is healthy, and he has been a positive contributor in right field. His health has remained, as he has avoided the leg injuries that plagued him in the past.
And he did this in last night's Home Run Derby! (h/t SB Nation MLB)
Stanton has essentially done no wrong this season and is the biggest reason why Miami remains this close to the National League East's best teams. He has been a delight to watch thus far in 2014.
Alvarez only got the spot after an injury to Jordan Zimmermann kept him out tonight's contest. But Alvarez was more than deserving of a selection. At the time of selection, he was ranked third in the National League in ERA, which left him quite a deserving candidate. His FIP was solidly around the 3.00 mark, and that combined to make him a two-win pitcher by the end of the first half. It was an impressive feat for a guy who throws minimal strikeouts and subsists primarily on ground balls and avoiding homers, which were the very thing that killed him in his previous stint in Toronto. His three shutouts this year lead all Major Leaguers.
Alvarez continued to trends that he developed last season in Miami. Still present was the ability to prevent home runs and his return to passable strikeout rates. After whiffing just 79 batters in over 180 innings in 2012, he has struck out 73 batters this season in just 120 frames. In the meantime, he has dropped his walk rate even further, down to just 4.4 percent this season. These developments have made him an ideal ground ball pitcher, producing just enough strikeouts and avoiding free passes to allow the grounders to get him out of jams. Alvarez's 54.4 percent ground ball rate is ninth in baseball among qualified Major Leaguers,
Alvarez got here on the back of strong, consistent play and an approach that works well at Marlins Park. Giancarlo Stanton got here by demolishing baseballs in a way that even Marlins Park could not limit. Either way, both players are here, in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, and they are ready to contribute. It's going to be a fun evening, folks!