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Miami Marlins offense: Oxymoron?

The Miami Marlins have had a struggle scoring runs all season. What is not so certain is if the Marlins are historically bad or even if their struggles are a real reflection of the Marlins talent.


As discussed earlier by just about everyone that has seen a game played by the Miami Marlins, and specifically by Andrew Ball of Beyond the Box Score, the Marlins have a superlative offense. The Marlins have the least amount of runs scored in the majors by wide margin, with only 43 runs through April 22. As of now it is unclear if the Marlins just started off with cold bats in the 2013 season, or if this is the norm for the 2013 Marlins bats. If it is the norm, the Marlins could be looking at a historically bad season on offense.

As a part of Andrew Ball's evaluation of the Miami offense, he took a look a wRC+, a metric that tells us what exactly a team has done on offense, the "runs" it has "created" compared to the league average in that ballpark. Another way to tell how a team has done is simply the batted ball. Batters only really have control of what the ball does as it leaves the bat of the player. What it can tell us, is what the Marlin batters have been directly been doing.

The Marlins rank at the bottom of the league in BABIP which means that the Marlins get few hits on balls in play. This is usually considered to be due to "luck" if a team has a good or even typical batted ball profile. However, thatis something the Marlins simply do not have. With the highest groundball percentage in the majors of 52 percent and the lowest flyball percentage in the majors of 19.4, we can see that Marlin batters have difficulty doing anything productive with their at-bats. The Marlins hit the ball on the ground, which limits both opportunities to get men on base and opportunities to get men around first on extra-base hits. Even the line drive percentage of 18.6 percent is close to the bottom of the league, complemented nicely by the relatively high infield fly ball percent of 12.1. Marlins players simply do not make good contact with the baseball, and it is not clear if this will change.

It is entirely possible that the Marlins have a historically bad offense. The Marlins have not hit the ball well enough to warrant anything other than negative superlatives. Even if the Miami Marlins prove not to be historically bad, they should still remain mostly anemic at the plate. It is also possible that, as players like Giancarlo Stanton begin to actually play to their abilities, we will see an improvement in the Marlins' overall batted ball profile. The batted ball profile cannot really be used to predict future value for the Marlins. It can, however, show that the Marlins deserve their offensive struggles to this point in the season.