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2013 Marlins Season Review: Overview

The 2013 Miami Marlins season was riddled with problems, primarily on the offensive end. But even though the Fish had a historically poor offense, there was enough pitching to leave hope for a brighter future.

Jose Fernandez and the pitching staff may have been the only things to be smiling about in 2013.
Jose Fernandez and the pitching staff may have been the only things to be smiling about in 2013.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 2013 Marlins Season Review! Check out the introduction and schedule here.

The 2013 season for the Miami Marlins was a torturous one for many reasons. Heading into the year, it was well known that the Fish would struggle, given the team's dismantling thanks to the fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason. The Fish fielded an Opening Day lineup that involved Placido Polanco batting cleanup, and that told you everything you really needed to know about the Marlins' offense in 2013.

The offense was the start of the problems for the franchise this season. Since the franchise debuted in 1993, a time that coincided along with the gradual increase in offensive level in baseball, no team has had a worse offensive performance than the 2013 Marlins. Take it back to 1961, the start of the "expansion" era, and you will see that only three teams had as bad or worse an offensive season as the 2013 Marlins. Two of those teams were the debuting and early-year versions of the bungling New York Mets, which goes to show you the level of incompetence the Fish reached this season on offense.

A glance at the team's individual performances shows just why the Fish struggled. If you take a look at every player to whom the Marlins gave significant plate appearances, none of those guys performed up to snuff compared to their preseason projections. Even the team's best hitter by far, star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, struggled significantly. After a season in which he put up an unconscionable .290/.361/.608 (.405 wOBA) batting line in 2012 and hit 37 homers in 501 plate appearances, Stanton came up well short this year. He hit just 24 homers this season in 504 plate appearances and suffered through a .249/.365/.480 (.368 wOBA) batting line. Stanton did not display his legendary power and posted his worst ISO of his career at just .231 for the season.

The rest of the roster was just as culpable. Out of all of the Marlins with more than 200 plate appearances, only one other player besides Stanton had a batting line better than the league average (Christian Yelich, who only played from August forward). The Marlins boasted the league's worst player by FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement in Adeiny Hechavarria, who also doubled as the second-worst hitter in baseball among qualified Major Leaguers this season. Out of the 15 players with more than 200 plate appearances, nine of them were at or below replacement level in terms of WAR. The team's second-best WAR was posted by a player who had not played since late July (Marcell Ozuna), and the third-best mark was posted by Yelich, his outfield replacement.

It should not surprise anyone that the Marlins did as poorly as they did on offense. The defense, however, was a little disappointing as well. The team's best defenders, Stanton in right field and Hechavarria at shortstop, both disappointed by the defensive metrics. Polanco was a zombie and lost a lot of his range at third base. Logan Morrison was a mess in his first full year back at first base. The franchise did get solid defense from Justin Ruggiano and Marcell Ozuna in particular, but it was not enough to compensate and get the team above league average.

The only bright spot for the team was its pitching staff, which improved leaps and bounds by the end of the season. The most obvious positive from the franchise was Jose Fernandez, who put up one of the best rookie pitching seasons in history. Fernandez was dominant all year, and there will be much discussion about just how much better he could be after a year in which he should earn Rookie of the Year honors and deserving votes for the Cy Young award.

But the rest of the team's pitchers also deserve some credit, especially Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. Eovaldi upped his fastball to elite level velocity for a starter and improved his strikeout rates along the way, making his future appear a bit better. If he ever figures out how to throw more than just a fastball and a slider, his ceiling based on this season will have jumped from "pretty good" to "front-line starter" thanks to the better velocity. Henderson Alvarez just threw a no-hitter, so there is that. But the no-hitter also came in a good season in which he put up a solid ground ball and walk numbers en route to a 3.51 ERA and 3.18 FIP. Neither pitcher is likely to continue his run of success preventing home runs, but both should provide solid support for the team's franchise ace Fernandez.

There were a few things to be happy about with regards to the Marlins in 2013, but they were buried amid 100 losses and a lot more negatives. In the coming days, we will discuss more about what happened and what went right and wrong with the Fish this season, but for now, suffice to say it was a difficult year and it will be a difficult one to review this month.

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