Earlier today, we discussed the glory that was Giancarlo Stanton's 2012 season, but Stanton's season in and of itself leads us directly to the first What Went Wrong piece of 2012. Yes, Giancarlo Stanton had a monster 2012 campaign, but it could have been even better had he remained healthy for the entire season. Indeed, health was a major problem for the Miami Marlins in 2012 and one of the main reasons why the Fish struggled so badly this season.
The Marlins' Opening Day lineup looked drastically different than their final lineup of the season. Remember this lineup?
|Order||Player||Proj wOBA vs. RHP|
That lineup on Opening Day looked quite appealing, but by the time the 2012 season ended, only three of those players, Jose Reyes, Stanton, and John Buck, remained on the 25-man roster. The remaining players had been moved off to different locations, and two of them, Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison, had been pushed off into the disabled list.
These injuries, combined with the injury to Stanton, really hurt the Miami Marlins in 2012. Bonifacio was the player who spent the most time on the DL, having hurt his thumb in the middle of May on an attempted steal and missing almost two months of time as a result. At the time, Bonifacio was hitting a respectable .268/.351/.315, made respectable only because of his 20 stolen bases thus far. When Bonifacio returned in July, he continued to steal bases at an excellent pace, but his batting average and on-base percentage fell as the Marlins began shifting his positions to meet their post-trade deadline needs. Bonifacio's injuries reared their ugly head just one month later, as he was hurt twice in August, the last time ending his season.
In 278 PA, Bonifacio recorded a reasonable but unexciting 0.5 Wins Above Replacement. In a 600 PA season like the one he posted in 2011, he would have posted 1.1 WAR this season. This is a lot less than expected at the start of the season, but it is not a surprising regression from a player who still has not reduced his strikeout rate. With the injuries that Bonifacio suffered, it is likely the Marlins lost half a win due to missing time and replacing him with characters like Bryan Petersen and Gorkys Hernandez.
While Bonifacio missed the most time, Logan Morrison's time missed was probably more critical to the team. Morrison is one of the team's few capable power hitters, though he did not show that for most of the 2012 season. He was one of the players that struggled mightily in 2012, but it seemed that his power slump was fading before the injury. Morrison had a nice month of June and from then to July, he had a .451 slugging percentage and a .222 ISO. And while Morrison's season was going poorly up until that point, it did not seem unreasonable for him to be on the up-and-up going forward.
Presume Morrison would hit a .330 wOBA for the rest of the season. Given Morrison's known lack of ability in left field, a rough calculation has the Marlins losing 0.3 wins to the end of the season with Morrison out.
That total seems inconsequential, and it is. But there is also an issue of prevention for the Marlins. The Fish demoted and then traded away Gaby Sanchez, the team's other first baseman, and for a time Morrison was taking the field at first base. But rather than keep him at the position when the Marlins were unhappy with Sanchez, the team attempted to make a playoff run by acquiring a menial upgrade in Carlos Lee rather than looking for a potential outfielder. The team ran out Morrison into the outfield again when Sanchez returned and when the team acquired Lee, and Morrison not only hurt the team with his play on the field but also likely hurt himself further in the process. By the end of July, the first base decisions the Marlins had made likely cost Morrison some of his health and effectiveness.
Of course, the most damaging injury was to Stanton, especially in light of his otherwise otherworldly season. Stanton's right knee had bothered him in the preseason and was highly speculated as the reason why his April start was so slow. By July, however, his left knee had become the problem and the scope revealed "loose bodies" that Stanton chose to have removed. As a result, the Marlins did not get to make an initial run with Stanton and Lee in the lineup, and the Marlins suffered that month as a result.
If we take the average of Stanton's career numbers as a reasonable expectation for him during the season, Stanton's lost 100 or so PA cost the Marlins an additional 0.9 WAR this season. The Fish lost almost a win, and possibly a little bit more given this season's current level of greatness.
If you total up the losses from the three players listed here, the Marlins lost almost two wins from injuries to their regulars alone. This is before considering the runs lost from them not playing up to a reasonable expectation as well. While two wins would not have made a large difference in this lost season, any number of wins would have been appreciated in a year in which the Fish won their fewest games since 1999. And, as we will see later, this only added onto the problems that plagued the Fish in 2012.