The Marlins and the New York Mets are two teams on the rise in the NL East, with both organizations having aspirations of playing baseball deep into October. The Mets were recently pitted against the Yankees in a debate over which New York team has the better season, with the Mets coming out on top. In that same article, David Schoenfield predicts the Mets to win 85-87 games in 2015 and compete for one of the two National League Wild Card spots.
But where does Miami factor into the postseason race with all of the additions they have made this offseason? Ideally, the Fish will want to finish ahead of the Mets in order to have a chance of challenging the Nationals for the division crown or winning the first Wild Card (and having home-field advantage for the playoff game). So will the Marlins be able to win more than 87 games and finish ahead of the Mets? Let's breakdown the matchup by every position (with 2014 statistics).
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 114 G/ .220 AVG/ 11 HR/ 41 RBI/ .320 OBP/ .981 FPCT
Travis d'Arnaud - 108 G/ .242 AVG/ 13 HR/ 41 RBI/ .302 OBP/ .990 FPCT
In his first year with the Marlins, Saltalamacchia disappointed quite a few people with his offensive production. However, his numbers should improve in 2015 after having a full season to adapt to the National League. His batting average should return to around his career figure of .242. Travis d'Arnaud put up fairly impressive numbers in his first full season in the majors, especially his .990 fielding percentage. He has lots of room to grow and develop in his age-26 season, and his potential puts him slightly ahead of Salty.
Michael Morse - 131 G/ .279 AVG/ 16 HR/ 61 RBI/ .336 OBP/ .991 FPCT (43 games at 1B)
Lucas Duda - 153 G/ .253 AVG/ 30 HR/ 92 RBI/ .344 OBP/ .994 FPCT
Morse was a fantastic addition for the Fish as they desperately needed a first baseman with an offensive upside. His home run and RBI totals should increase this season as his playing time will increase. Not only can Morse be a leader with his bat, but his veteran presence in the clubhouse will also make him a leader for the club as well. Duda is coming off a breakout season in which he clubbed 30 home runs and drove in 92. His production levels may not be quite the same in 2015, but he will have an imposing presence in the Mets' lineup nonetheless.
Dee Gordon - 148 G/ .289 AVG/ 2 HR/ 34 RBI/ .326 OBP/ .981 FPCT
Daniel Murphy - 143 G/ .289 AVG/ 9 HR/ 57 RBI/ .332 OBP/ .974 FPCT
Dee Gordon will be a spark plug for the Marlins. He evokes memories of Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo and he will likely wreak havoc on the basepaths. His ZiPS projections weren't too complimentary, but 50 stolen bases will still create many chances for the team to score. Daniel Murphy was more productive in 2014 with 57 RBIs, but Gordon should have much more of an impact in 2015.
Martin Prado - 143 G/ .282 AVG/ 12 HR/ 58 RBI/ .312 OBP/ .955 FPCT
David Wright - 134 G/ .269 AVG/ 8 HR/ 63 RBI/ .324 OBP/ .954 FPCT
Don't let David Wright's number deceive you, as he played through the 2014 season with a shoulder injury which limited his ability. Although Prado was an upgrade at third for the Marlins, Wright should return to being a top ten third baseman.
Adeiny Hechavarria - 146 G/ .276 AVG/ 1 HR/ 34 RBI/ .308 OBP/ .979 FPCT
Wilmer Flores - 78 G/ .251 AVG/ 6 HR/ 29 RBI/ .286 OBP/ .979 FPCT
Hechavarria receives a lot of criticism, but he made major leaps in improving his offensive game in 2014 and although his .979 fielding percentage doesn't look that impressive, he did save a lot of runs last year with his highlight-reel plays. Due to these facts, he should give the Fish an edge over Flores.
Christian Yelich - 144 G/ .284 AVG/ 9 HR/ 54 RBI/ .362 OBP/ .993 FPCT
Curtis Granderson - 155 G/ .227 AVG/ 20 HR/ 66 RBI/ .326 OBP/ .994 FPCT
Gold Glover Yelich was one of the Marlins most consistent and exciting players to watch in 2014, and he will likely continue to impress in 2015. His on-base percentage is exactly what the Marlins will need to be competitive in 2015. Granderson is nearing the end of his career, whereas Yelich is just starting to blossom.
Marcell Ozuna - 153 G/ .269 AVG/ 23 HR/ 85 RBI/ .317 OBP/ .987 FPCT
Juan Lagares - 116 G/ .281 AVG/ 4 HR/ 47 RBI/ .321 OBP/ ,984 FPCT
Ozuna is a break-out candidate for 2015. The power is developing nicely and his outfield assists are a joy to watch. Lagares had a nice 2014, but Ozuna is primed for greater things as a staple in the middle of the batting order.
Giancarlo Stanton - 145 G/ .288 AVG/ 37 HR/ 105 RBI/ .395 OBP/ .982 FPCT
Michael Cuddyer - 49 G/ .332 AVG/ 10 HR/ 31 RBI/ 1.000 FPCT
Even with Cuddyer's batting average way above .300, Stanton is a superstar. If there are no lingering issues from his facial injury, look for Stanton to hit around 40 bombs and be right in the thick of the MVP race again.
Henderson Alvarez/ Mat Latos/ Jarred Cosart/ Dan Haren/ Tom Koehler *Jose Fernandez
Matt Harvey/ Jacob deGrom/ Zack Wheeler/ Jon Niese/ Dillon Gee
Getting Matt Harvey back is a huge boost for the Mets. His rookie season was outstanding, and if it wasn't for Jose Fernandez, they would have two rookie of the year pitchers in their rotation after deGrom received the award in 2014. The Marlins will have a strong rotation as well with Alvarez and Cosart being joined by Latos and Haren (possibly). The Mets rotation will be better before June, but the Marlins rotation will be better once Fernandez returns.
Still 5-3 Marlins
Overall, the Marlins' bullpen was a strength for the team last year, especially Bryan Morris who was lights-out after he came to the Fish from the Pirates. This is what Schoenfield has to say about the Mets bullpen:
The Mets had the eighth-best bullpen ERA last season, but had the 24th-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (they were 28th in walk rate). It's a mediocre pen at best and potentially a bad one.
As you can see, on paper at least, the Marlins are a better team than the Mets. As long as the Fish stay healthy and Fernandez returns to his usual spectacular self, the Marlins should finish ahead of the Mets in the standings. This is not to be interpreted as an sure-bet though, since it will be a season-long battle. The Marlins are aiming for 88 wins, which is achievable with some repeat performances from last year (and a little luck).