Earlier this offseason, we discussed some players to watch on the Miami Marlins with regards to the world of fantasy baseball, but the Marlins are not just comprised of the five guys listed in that article. Indeed, the Marlins have eight position players to talk about and at least six pitchers to consider for fantasy baseball. As blogger of all things Marlins and author for the fantasy side of Baseball Prospectus, I feel it obligatory that I also fill in a discussion of the Marlins' fantasy baseball aspirations in 2012.
Today, we will discuss both hitters and pitchers, providing an average of multiple projection systems to provide an idea of the sort of stats we can expect. This morning, we will start with the hitters. Keep in mind that these discussions will be with regards to traditional 5x5 roto leagues, both standard and NL-only with your typical position settings.
In terms of fantasy baseball, Buck does not provide a lot, but he is not as useless as he seems at first blush. The most obvious point in his favor is his ample playing time, as the Marlins will afford him control of the team's pitching staff and backstop for most of the year. Buck was one of ten catchers to log over 500 PA in 2011, and in fantasy that takes you a fair amount of distance in two-catcher leagues. Buck's easy double-digit home run power is also valuable given his playing time, and even with all of his faults (i.e., batting average), he still holds significant value as a second catcher in mixed leagues. Fantasy players are drafting him alongside less playable backstops like Chris Iannetta and Miguel Olivo when Buck provides a similar playstyle (low batting average, above-average home runs) in a package guaranteed a season's worth of playing time. Even at his 2011 worst, Buck still managed around his projected 2012 numbers, so there is nowhere really to go but up.Gaby Sanchez
Gaby Sanchez is nothing if not consistent. By 2012's end, it is very likely his line will end with metronome-like consistency, as the above line is extremely similar to that of his 2010 and 2011 seasons. The only real question is how much this is worth to fantasy owners in 2012. Sanchez is being drafted next to names like Ike Davis and Carlos Pena in mixed leagues, yet he was worth at least one dollar more last season compared to Pena. In mixed leagues, Sanchez's surefire production is likely only good enough for a fringe corner infield position, particularly in medium-depth leagues, but where he will certainly shine is as one of the few consistent options available at the start of the season in NL-only leagues. With the defection of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the National League pool for first basemen has become extremely shallow, and a player like Sanchez will be critical to win your league.
The only thing Infante is good for in mixed leagues is a being a player with guaranteed playing time. His meager stats do not provide a boost in any of the five categories, so he is best used as a midseason stopgap for injury troubles than anyone you would ever to depend on for serious playing time. For most mixed leagues, you can safely avoid him on draft day.
According to these various projections, Hanley Ramirez is still the man in fantasy baseball. Fantasy players are almost unanimously drafting him as the second best shortstop in baseball this season, and in a couple of games, he will also qualify for third base in case your team needs injury assistance. The numbers projected above are very similar to the ones he put in 2010 (619 PA, 92 R, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 32 SB, .300 AVG), and here at Fish Stripes we have basically been saying that our best projection for 2012 Ramirez is 2010 Ramirez, so the output here matches our statements well. Even if Ramirez is not at his 2007-2009 peak, he is still among the best choices in fantasy baseball, because production from your shortstop just does not come in this kind of complete package. If Ramirez experiences any sort of bounce back, he should be in good form as one of the best commodities in the game.
The Marlins are loaded with talent at the shortstop position. While Ramirez may be the better well-rounded option, Reyes is a clear third choice at worst at the position. Reyes is a strong bet to bat .300 given his history and his ability to avoid strikeouts, and any team with him is going to benefit from over 30 steals easily; Reyes has never stolen fewer than 30 bags when posting more than 500 PA. Add on the fact that manager Ozzie Guillen is notoriously aggressive on the basepaths and you have the recipe for a potential 50-steal season with a decently healthy year for Reyes. The power projection seems in line, if one or two home runs high, but everything else seems exactly right for his projection. And at 601 PA, the combined systems are expecting him to miss just about 30 games of playing time as he has the last two seasons.
Morrison was an enigma for his first two seasons because he put in numbers that were highly variable; in one season, he got on base and scored runs, while in another year he blasted over 20 home runs and hit for a very low batting average. His on-base skills are still present, and much of last year's problems with his average were due to bad BABIP luck, as his batted ball profile remained markedly similar in both seasons. There is nothing more to expect except a season similar to Morrison's career batting line, and such a season is on the fringes of worthwhile play in mixed leagues. Morrison does have some power upside, so he is a decent late-round selection for your bench or waiver wire pickup.
Bonifacio's major benefit to fantasy teams in 2012 is that he is yet another Marlins starter who qualifies at shortstop thanks to last year's injury to Ramirez. Bonifacio also qualifies in the outfield and at third base, so he does have positional flexibility in that respect. As for what he brings to the table, he is your classic one-category steals booster; he will not hurt you too badly in other categories and he should bring at least 30 steals to the table with his playing time. He qualifies as a mid or later choice in mixed leagues because of his shortstop eligibility.
No one is more excited about the crazy possibilities of Giancarlo Stanton's 2012 season than me. A conglomeration of four systems projected 37 home runs and 106 RBI for the slugger, which is pretty high considering these projections usually tend closer to the middle and less towards the extremes (we cannot be sure who will post the high-RBI seasons every year). Currently, Stanton is being drafted right in the second tier of outfielders, next to other strong names such as Josh Hamilton and Andrew McCutchen. Of the names around him, however, he probably has the most upside, as the home run projections could possibly go through the roof now that he is 22 years of age. He is probably appropriately drafted right now, and given the craze of fawning over young power hitters, that says a lot about how good Stanton really is. Pick him up for $20-plus value and enjoy your kicks.