The Miami Marlins turned to their bench a reasonable amount of time, mostly to replace their outfielder concerns. However, the infield did suffer a few injuries here and there, and that did force the Marlins to turn to some of their infield depth and other bench players. Their results were as expected, but at least one player put up a campaign interesting enough to warrant a closer look next season.
Dietrich started the 2015 season in Triple-A, where he played well in a 228-plate appearance stint before being promoted again to the majors. Dietrich had hit decently last year but was mired in both a defensive slump and difficulty with the front office possibly regarding his whistleblowing on former hitting coach Tino Martinez from two years ago. The front office and owner Jeffrey Loria are not necessarily high on Dietrich, and his defense has certainly not helped his cause.
This year, manager Dan Jennings at least tried to find a spot for one of the few hot bats on the roster. Dietrich hit .256/.346/.456 with good on-base numbers secondary mostly to a huge hit-by-pitch rate. Dietrich walked in eight percent of plate appearances, but he was also beaned 13 times this year. That was tied for 13th in the league overall among players with at least 200 plate appearances, and no one above Dietrich on that list had fewer than 300 plate appearances. In fact, only two other players above Dietrich on that list had a rate of hit-by-pitches greater than four percent (Dietrich had a 4.5 percent rate). Anthony Rizzo and Brandon Guyer were first and second on the hit-by-pitch list and ranked third and first in rate respectively, with Dietrich in between.
Dietrich also rocked the power by hitting ten home runs, and that too appears to be a real skill. He hit homers on 12.3 percent of fly balls, which was right around his career mark. He also hit doubles and triples in 31 percent of his non-homer hits, which was right around his career 29 percent mark. In other words, when Dietrich actually makes contact, he hits the ball pretty hard.
That batting line, however, was once again brought down by Dietrich's defensive performance. Though Baseball Prospectus's FRAA found Dietrich to be average on defense for the second year in a row, the other zone-based metrics disagreed. Errors plagued him once again this year; he made four in just 194 1/3 innings played at third base this year. In comparison, Martin Prado played more than five times the number of innings and made only seven errors all year. He was also tasked to play left field for stretches of the season due to the team's lack of outfield depth, and the unfamiliarity at the position really hurt him. DRS and UZR had him at around seven to nine runs worse than average in left field in only 354 innings played.
Rojas was essentially the anti-Dietrich. He built his value defensively and was a mediocre player at the plate, having hit just .282/.329/.366. Rojas never had a strong track record in the minors in terms of hitting, though he did hit about .300/.340/.430 for parts of the last two seasons in Triple-A. In 2015, Rojas earned a brief set of promotions when players like Dee Gordon or Adeiny Hechavarria went down with injury, and he mostly spelled those players in small stints.
However, in those small stints, he excelled defensively. He accrued the most innings at shortstop, where he accrued the majority of the starts in place of Hechavarria after he suffered his September-long DL stint. Rojas proved to be a capable Hechavarria clone, as he was about a run better than average in 240 innings after being well above average in Los Angeles at the same position. Rojas also filled in at second and third base very well.
Rojas is unlikely to hit well enough to stick even with strong defense, but he at least has found a home on the bench with his 2015 performance.
This was a mistake, and the less we talk about it, the better. McGehee was signed off the street after being unceremoniously released by the San Francisco Giants after they tried him as the replacement for Pablo Sandoval. Of course, the Marlins remember McGehee fondly for having been league average for them last year, but they rightly traded him away to make room for Martin Prado. Prado got hurt and the Marlins turned back to McGehee.
He was celebrated for being a hero with some game-winning RBIs in his first few games, but he somehow earned another 100-plus plate appearances before the Marlins realized he was still awful. These plate appearances could have easily gone to Derek Dietrich.
Jeff Mathis is who Jeff Mathis is. Somehow, he hit worse than he did last year and spent less time on the field, yet the Marlins still want him back on the roster.
At least this awful season convinced the Marlins to dump Solano, as he was outrighted to Triple-A after spending an unusual amount of time in the majors. Rojas and Solano are not all that different, but Solano is not likely able to play shortstop like Rojas does. Both are awful at the plate at varying levels.
Baker was not afforded a whole lot of time on the team before he got injured and later was released from the roster. He was let go supposedly because he was saying negative things about the front office during his stay on the disabled list. That pretty much sealed the deal for him, as he was not needed with the team's emphasis on more youth.