The Miami Marlins suffered a number of injuries in their outfield situation, having lost Logan Morrison and Emilio Bonifacio for large swaths of the season and seeing Giancarlo Stanton miss more than a month as well. Both Bonifacio and Morrison eventually ended up losing their seasons earlier than desired, forcing the Marlins to turn to alternatives. One alternative, Justin Ruggiano, was covered earlier today and performed very well for the Fish this past season.
However, for the rest of the Marlins backup outfielders, it was an ugly affair all throughout. The four other outfielders who received decent amounts of playing time for the Fish in 2012 were truly awful, and some of their seasons bordered on legendarily bad for the Marlins.
Bryan Petersen came into the year with a decent shot at splitting some playing time with Bonifacio in center field, though he eventually began the year in Triple-A. However, in the end, Petersen ended up receiving the most playing time among the four backups listed here, and at the start of the year, this might have been a favorable proposition. After all, he entered the season having hit a surprising .265/.357/.387 (.330 wOBA) the previous season after the Marlins tried him in center field late in the year.
Everything that could possibly go wrong with Petersen's season did. He was still walking and striking out at rates that we would expect given his previous season, but this time he just could not get a hit on a ball in play to save his life. Petersen hit just .255 on balls in play, and while other, better players can get away with a season like that by supplementing it with power and walks, Petersen is not one of those players. That batting average sunk him, as even his walk rate could not save his OBP and his traditionally poor power was evident in the terrible 2012 line. His entire offensive contribution was shot, and as a result he put up one of the worst seasons is Marlins baseball history, right alongside the one that Greg Dobbs put up this year. Petersen put up a whopping 16 runs worse than average in just 273 PA, which is by far the worst offensive season among all the Marlins of the year. No Marlins player was more than 16 runs worse than average this year.
It did not help that the defensive statistics do not think highly of Petersen's performance this season, particularly in center field. I could not tell whether Petersen struggled in center field this season, but if the defensive stats are right, Petersen's anemic offense was only worsened by a terrible defensive output, and as a result, his season will go down in the record books as being comparable to the likes of Dobbs in 2012 and Alex Gonzalez in 2000. Dubious company indeed.
However, Petersen was not the sole contributor to this awful party of outfielders. Gorkys Hernandez was part of the return package in the Gaby Sanchez trade at the deadline, and he was immediately slotted into a backup outfielder role. However, just as soon as he joined the bench, he began regularly appearing in the lineup as a result of the injuries with which the team was dealing. By the end of the season, Hernandez was the team's regular second hitter behind Petersen and was doing almost as poorly as he did.
At least with Hernandez, the performance was not surprising. He had never hit well in the minors, and the Fish should not have been surprised that he would struggle in the major leagues. Nevertheless, the .280 wOBA that he posted with the Fish is actually the best offensive line among the four players listed here. No joke. We joked about Hernandez and his inability to hit better than pitchers, yet he actually outhit the other three Marlins outfielders listed here. He struggled with strikeouts more than Petersen, but he also struggled on balls in play. He did however provide the tiniest amount of pop to make him more palatable, surprisingly enough, than the other terrible hitting seasons listed here.
Not to be outdone by any of these players, Chris Coghlan and his 2012 performance was a highly concentrated version of bad. Yes, his peripherals were actually good, and indeed his 11.4 percent strikeout should have yielded better results. But his failure to produce after two straight disappointing seasons, along with his typically poor defense in center field (he was the worst center fielder among the four listed here), earned himself a spot in Triple-A for the rest of the year.
One look at his batting line and it is enough to make you throw up. The .180 wOBA was worse than any other performer for the Marlins with at least 100 PA. It was worse than Petersen's awful year and worse than Brett Hayes's 40-percent strikeout campaign. In fact, it was the worst wOBA in baseball of any player with at least 100 PA. Yikes.
Cousins is almost a forgotten piece of unsuccessful outfield play for the Marlins given the three monstrosities shown above, but do not underestimate his terrible play as well. Cousins's .195 wOBA would have ranked as the fourth-worst among players with at least 100 PA had he recorded five more appearances with the team. He was equally as bad as the others, but Cousins also had dubious claim of being the player with the worst peripherals. He struck out in 26.1 percent of his PA and walked in just 4.3 percent of them. Two of his four walks all year were actually intentional, meaning Cousins was able to draw a walk for himself in only two of his 93 PA that he was allowed. He should not be forgotten as among the worst players on the Marlins, and yes, he too was a backup outfielder.
All in all, it is very possible that the Marlins' four backup outfielders totaled 620 PA, almost a full season of playing time for a regular starter, and added up to around four wins below replacement. Each and every backup outfielder in the team's system failed the club spectacularly, and despite the Marlins' organizational depth, each player showed that they were at best 25th men and at worst Triple-A guys who do not belong in the majors. The Marlins lost four wins on these four players alone.