Beinfest's point here is exactly correct. The reason why there were expectations on the Miami Marlins was because, coming into the season, the team was perceived as much more talented than they are currently showing. Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation said as much in yesterday's article about the selling rumors surrounding the team.
And the reason the Marlins have so many interesting trade chits? Because they have a lot of players who were really desirable before this year. Morrison, Hanley, Reyes, Johnson, Sanchez, the other Sanchez … they weren't supposed to be this mediocre-to-bad. You can argue that there isn't a single Marlin with more than 100 at-bats or 30 innings exceeding expectations, but you can list a dozen Marlins who are performing well below expectations. The reason there were expectations in the first place was because these players should be better.
To start the year, this was not a bad team. But since starting the season and playing it through, they have not performed to expectations. Does this mean that the team is as bad as their record and run differential (that of a 39-53 team) have them to be? The answer, as always, is somewhere in between "yes" and "no."Expectations Table
Once again, we are left to look at a table of pre-season expectations versus current season performance and be disappointed with the results.
|Player||ZiPS Preseason Proj wOBA||2012 wOBA|
These are the hitters who have garnered the most PA, and the majority of them have failed to reach preseason expectations. With the exception of a couple of them, the majority have failed to match their updated expectations in most months. This means that a number of those players, including John Buck, Gaby Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, and Logan Morrison have really failed to show significant regression throughout the 2012 season.
Three of the team's position players have met or exceeded expectations, and one of those names was absolutely necessary for the Marlins to remain afloat. Giancarlo Stanton meeting expectations was really important to the team's survival through the lean months of June and the tear the team went on in May.
But the fact that Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio have done a bit better on their expectations really has not changed the complexion of the team. When a number of big bats like Ramirez, Morrison, and Sanchez fail as monstrously as they have, it is difficult for small gains to make up for such major losses. Take a look at the table above with the addition of runs lost or gained from the actual performance versus the projection.
|Player||ZiPS Preseason Proj wOBA||2012 wOBA||Runs Diff|
This lineup that was expected to be among the best in the National League has turned into one of the worst, and it is on the back of a plethora of underperforming players. The combination of Morrison's, Ramirez's, Reyes's and Sanchez's failure to live up to preseason expectations has cost the Marlins 51 runs since the start of the year. That is generally equivalent to five wins. Overall, the team's offensive performance from its initial starting trio has lost 46 runs to underperforming their expectations. If each offensive player had simply met expectations, the Marlins could be up five wins right now and have a run differential closer to a .500 team.
So should the Marlins sell pieces? I am of the opinion that the core, as synthesized, is still a decent one. But the preseason projections were wrong, and this team's offensive performance has shown that. It does not, however, mean that the club is as good as they have shown now. The answer lies somewhere in between. You could look to the club's ZiPS Rest-Of-Season updated projections to have an idea of where this team is going, but some of those numbers do not feel entirely correct given what we have seen thus far. It is very possible that the Marlins are worse than they are projected even as of right now. But it is a guarantee that they are not as bad as they have shown.
As a result, Beinfest's dilemma is indeed a tricky one. How good are the Marlins in 2013? Can the team depend on this core of offensive players? Can the team simply wait until 2013 free agency to improve, or do certain Marlins offensive performers need to be traded? I am of the opinion that, even if the Marlins tried to trade most of their offensive pieces, it would not work out to their advantage anyway, so it may be best for the Fish to hold on and see where they stand by the end of the season. Very few of the Marlins' offensive players are significant trade assets anyway, so with the exception of Omar Infante and the cost-controlled players, the Marlins would not have much of a choice anyway.
As of right now, despite all the rumors, the prevailing choice for the Marlins for the most part should be to stand pat.