It is Opening Day for the Miami Marlins in the 2015 regular season, and the Fish are ready to contend after an overhaul of their roster last offseason. The Fish are looking for a big year, but can they deliver a successful season? Here at Fish Stripes, we have already made our prediction, but we are forever optimists about our favorite team. Just like every year I've been at the helm, I will be making my own set of bold predictions for the 2015 campaign. My co-editor Scott Gelman already jumped the gun on New Year's Day and made his own bold predictions, so check his out before you take a look at what I think will happen.
1. Giancarlo Stanton will hit 40-plus home runs.
This one has been going on for a while. Last year, this would have happened with ease had Stanton not been hit in the face with a baseball from Mike Fiers, as he was at his career-high of 37 by the time the September 11 injury happened. Miami paid Stanton handsomely to be the face of the franchise, so they are expecting big things from him. Of course, Stanton does not need to hit 40 home runs to have a successful year; last season, he had 37 and missed three weeks and still had enough ammo to be a worthy MVP candidate. However, 40 bombs would be the next landmark accomplishment for a player who is considered the preeminent power hitter in the game.
What are the odds that this happens? Lucky for you, we already did the math. Would you bet on that 37 percent shot? I will.
2. Jose Fernandez comes back healthy and dominant, with a sub-3.00 ERA season.
Tommy John surgery is no certainty, and there are two young pitchers who are trying to return from torn UCLs this season. Matt Harvey of the New York Mets is getting a head start, having been hurt in late 2012. A promising return from him would make me feel a lot better about Fernandez's chances, but the truth is that we have no idea how well the young man will do after last season's injury derailed his promising sophomore effort.
Here I am to claim that it will not slow him down one bit. If there is anything about Jose Fernandez, it is that he is resilient and ever optimistic. That smile alone should keep him on the field, happy to help his teammates, and hopefully healthy enough to dominate. I will not bet against Jose Fernandez until he gives me a good reason to do so. Are you honestly going to bet against this guy?
OK, maybe not the best example. How about this guy?UnevenGleefulFlyinglemur.0.html
3. Mat Latos is resurgent, posting a 3.20 ERA in 200 innings
Mat Latos probably is not the ace he used to be, but I am willing to bet that he is craftier than his initial persona appears to be as well. Being in his original hometown will probably help him to a better season. I think Latos is a wiser pitcher, knowing he has adjusted from being a hard thrower earlier in his career and developing a different game less dependent on his fastball as the year passed. Of course, with his velocity unlikely to return, he will have to work hard on developing new stuff to make things work. However, given his previous continued success with decreasing velocity, I do not believe this is an outrageous bet.
4. Michael Morse will hit 20 home runs and play an adequate first base
A lot of folks are throwing Michael Morse under the bus due to his longstanding difficulty in playing left field. He was poorly placed as a left fielder clearly, as Morse has long been known as a bat-only player. But that does not mean that he cannot manage the easiest position on the field with some ability. It may not necessarily be easy to play first base, but Morse's body is equipped to handle the stretching of the position, and as long as he readjusts his legs to maneuvering around first base, this should not be a difficult transition.
As for the power production, it is not out of line to expect Morse to hit homers. Marlins Park is easier to hit long balls in than AT&T Park, and Morse is a right-handed bat anyway. Marlins Park is much tougher homer-wise on lefties, so the Fish have less to worry about with Morse than they did with guys like Garrett Jones or Logan Morrison.
5. The Marlins will win 87 games and be one of two Wild Card teams
This is what we have been waiting for! The Marlins are positioned well to compete with a number of other squads for one of the two Wild Card spots. As of right now, the cream of the crop in the National League stands heads and tails above the rest, but the "rest" is a fairly large group. The San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, and the defending champion San Francisco Giants are all lurking at that second level below the three division heads, and each of them will give the Marlins a run for their money.
But I think the Marlins are destined to make it back into the playoffs in 2015! Make it so, Back to the Future II! The Marlins may not face the Cubs in the World Series, but the two should be facing each other in this year's Wild Card play-in game!
What do you readers think of the 2015 season? What are your bold predictions?