The 2012 Miami Marlins are finished. They are no more. And given how poorly the season went, it is not surprising to see Marlins fans expressing relief more than any other emotion with regards to the end of the season. Typically, when the end of a baseball season comes, baseball fans like myself say things such as "oh no, no more baseball for six months!" For the Marlins, I do not know a fan who would have wanted to see this Marlins team for another month, let alone six months.
See, the Miami Marlins were bad in 2012. They were not just a typical brand of bad. They were a special kind of bad, a kind of bad that this franchise has not seen since 1999. Do you remember the 1999 Florida Marlins season? Try to remember back to those days. Preston Wilson led the Marlins in wOBA by batting .280/.350/.502 (.366 wOBA), but that was only 13 percent better than the league average. That is the same as what Jose Reyes did this season. Alex Fernandez was the team's best pitcher, and he threw only 141 innings all season. The team's All-Star representative that season was rookie shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who ended the season batting .277/.308/.430 (.318 wOBA).
But this is not a review of the 1999 Marlins. This is to say that as bad as the Marlins were that season, this edition of the Miami Marlins was not all that far off. This year's Marlins were the first team since that 1999 club to win fewer than 70 games in a single season. This club scored fewer runs than any Marlins team since the 1994 season, the second year of the team's existence. The scoring environments are drastically different now compared to then (they are lower), but the feat remains similarly appalling.
The 2012 Miami Marlins were supposed to be a smashing success. But they were not; instead, they were smashed to the ground. Amid the greatest hype and expectations in team history heading into the season, the Marlins fell relatively flat in the month of April. When the highly successful May came, Marlins fans thought that the Fish had righted the ship. But June rolled around and the team suffered a second straight season with a disastrous June. By that month's end, the Marlins thought they were still a contender and acquired Carlos Lee, only to see Giancarlo Stanton, the team's lone All-Star, start a month-long stay on the disabled list just two days later.
By the time July was almost done, the Marlins were far enough away from contention that they decided to sell at the deadline, trading away Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers for a package of players that included prospects Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, and Rob Brantly. Just half a season into the club's maiden voyage in the 2012 era, the team had already given up on the nucleus it had set until 2014.
After the trades, the Marlins' roster was further devastated by season injuries to Logan Morrison and Emilio Bonifacio, leaving the team completely eviscerated by the end of the season. As a result, the team went 28-49 in the second half and their final numbers looked bad no matter how you sliced them.
|FanGraphs Pyth W-L*
*FanGraphs Pythagorean W-L record is based on runs scored judged by wRC and runs allowed judged by FIP runs allowed in addition to team UZR.
The Marlins' actual and Pythagorean records suggest an essentially even winning percentage, as though the Marlins deserved no more wins than they received based on their runs scored. When you look at the record splits of the team, that seems obvious; while the club did win an inordinate number of extra-innings games (12-5 record), especially given their generally poor bullpen, the team overall went an even 26-26 on one-run games. Those one-run games are usually the ones that affect the actual versus Pythagorean record difference, so the fact that the Marlins went even on those games matches up with their differential.
The FanGraphs numbers, however, suggest that the Fish could have scored more runs and allowed fewer runs. The team's .302 wOBA suggests that, had the team been more even in its production with runners on base versus with the bases empty, the team could have picked up 20 more runs this season. Indeed, hitting with runners in scoring position and men on base in general was a major problem for the Fish. With the bases empty, the Marlins hit .246/.303/.394, which is only a little better than their overall line of .244/.308/.382. However, when the Fish had runners on base, that line fell to .241/.315/.365, and with runners in scoring position it was an even worse .234/.325/.354.
The Marlins' pitching staff was decidedly better. Though the team's ERA was not great (21st in baseball), the club's FIP was significantly better (tied for 12th in baseball along with the Oakland Athletics). In addition, both of the most cited Wins Above Replacement metrics had the Marlins in the middle of the pack in terms of pitching.
So yes, overall, the Marlins' season did not go well, and it does seem to be primarily the fault of the offense. So what are we going to talk about here at Fish Stripes now that this nightmare season is over? Why, we are going to talk about this nightmare season some more! In the month of October, we are going to spend time reviewing every aspect of the Marlins's 2012 season, from the good to the bad all the way down to the ugly. We are going to leave no stone unturned, no player un-discussed, and nothing for granted. To delve into the horror of 2012 is to learn from its mistakes.
But how will we do this here at Fish Stripes? Well, this week we will start with a broader topic. For the next five business days (since we publish a lot less on weekends), we will talk what went right and what went wrong for the Marlins this year. Five days, five rights and five wrongs for what happened, starting today. These are the things that stand out most in my mind about the good and the bad of the 2012 season. I know, it seems difficult to find five good things about this year and just five bad things to discuss, but you know Fish Stripes is all about the #minorvictories.
From then, we will review each player's season. In the past, I would review just the main characters, and I probably will do the same, but there is a chance we will be delving into Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb as well as discussing Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, for example. These player season reviews will begin next week, at the end of the right/wrong series, and will continue until we have discussed as many players as I want to discuss. These reviews will come out once daily, with the frequency picking up as the major contributors give way to lesser pieces of the 2012 frightening puzzle.
That is the schedule for the upcoming month of season reviews. Once the reviews end and the offseason begins to kick into high gear as we near November, the hot stove discussion will begin in earnest and another important offseason for the Marlins will start. Until then, we have a little more discuss before we close the door on 2012.