At this time last offseason, the Marlins were concerned about consistently scoring runs. In 2013, Miami's offensive struggles led to losses in close games, and the organization spent the offseason trying to improve the lineup. Giancarlo Stanton was a key component, and the club added several veterans in an attempt to remain competitive.
After ending the 2013 season 62-100, the Marlins rightfully explored offensive upgrades. At the Winter Meetings, Miami signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and third baseman Casey McGehee. McGehee had returned from Japan and was seeking a major league opportunity, with Saltalamacchia posting a solid batting line in 2013 with Boston. The Marlins also dealt Logan Morrison, and as a result signed Garrett Jones to play first base.
Miami ultimately finished fifth place in the National League East in 2013, scoring 513 runs while allowing 646. Led by Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez, and Nathan Eovaldi, the Marlins were rightfully confident the lineup would be able to assist one of baseball's better pitching staffs in 2014. The Marlins' rotation, though, was without Fernandez for all but two months of the season, and the offense scored 645 times while the staff allowed 674 runs as a unit. The addition of Jarred Cosart at the trading deadline proved to help the Marlins' young staff, although both Jones and Saltalamacchia had difficulty hitting with runners in scoring position consistently. McGehee, though, was notably productive behind Stanton, and as a result was named the National League's Comeback Player of The Year.
Although the Marlins' pitching staff was young and competitive in 2013, the team had difficulty putting together big offensive innings. Donovan Solano emerged as a promising second base candidate defensively, but had difficulty at the plate. Placido Polanco was a veteran stopgap third baseman, and Justin Ruggiano and Juan Pierre bought time until Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna were prepared to produce at the major league level. Stanton anchored the outfield, but did not receive much support.
While the offensive concerns were justified heading into 2014, the addition of McGehee and production from Ozuna, Yelich, and Stanton kept the Marlins in the Wild Card conversation until the end of the season. The pitching staff was effective, and as a result, the club improved by 15 games.
Stanton signed a lengthy extension in November, and the Marlins have added Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, and Martin Prado to their lineup since the end of the regular season. The offense should be consistent in 2015, with Miami's success more dependent upon the club's starting rotation and bullpen.
Next week, we will explore Miami's confidence heading into 2015.