For those of us who watch the Marlins regularly, what follows might not be a surprising list of players expected to have an impact in fantasy baseball this year. What may surprise you, however, is the number of Marlins players who could make a positive contribution. More perhaps then you would expect for a team projected by many to go .500 at best.
This is the time of year where we will get more then just Marlins fans perusing our pages, looking for any little tidbit to get themselves ahead in the increasing lucrative fantasy game. If that's you, you're in luck. Every relevant Marlin, for fantasy baseball purposes, will be listed here. If you are a Marlins fan and you think you know everything there is to know about the Marlins and fantasy baseball, then you'll want to skip to the bottom of the article where I just might have something of interest for you. For the rest, read on.
"Fantasy relevant" is a relative term, of course. For example, I have played in an 18 team league over the past five years or so and Adeiny Hechavarria is very much relevant in that league (as a shortstop who can at least provide you with some average). However, in a normal 10-12 team league, he's entirely off the radar, not offering enough in multiple categories to be worthy of consideration.
As with most predictions, I can't tell you with certainty who amongst this group will help you win a title. If I could do that, I'd be like dystopian Biff from Back To The Future Part 2, walking around in silk kimino and picking on any McFly I could find. Follow the advice that best suits your specific needs.
First round consideration
Giancarlo Stanton is the only Marlin you might realistically select in the first round. Despite injuries that have limited his playing time over the past five seasons, he remains an elite power threat in a game that no longer sees many players with the potential to hit 40 or more home runs. If home runs are a priority category for you due to the aforementioned scarcity of big time clubbers, it's hard to go wrong with Stanton. I'm sure there are plenty of people willing to bank on the idea of a "Barry Bonds" effect that may turn Stanton's season from a great year into a legendary campaign.
Second/third round consideration
Now you get into draft strategy dependent territory. Some people like to take the best player left on the board, while others are targeting specific positions. While it's unlikely (but not unheard of) that your competition targets stolen bases in the first round, it's not unlikely at all that they'd give it thought as early as the second, and you should too. If you're not of the mind to punt the category, there are few players in the major leagues that can be counted on to give you elite stolen base totals. Only seven players had more then 30 last season. Only three had over 40.
Dee Gordon led them all with 58. You can rest assured that he will continue to run and run often. Is another 50 stolen base campaign worth a second round pick? Maybe not by itself, but last season those who took a flyer on Gordon were also rewarded with a major boost in the batting average and hits categories, and a decent contribution to both runs and on base percentage. I feel confident in saying that he will not be the NL batting champion for a second year in a row, but he should still be a plus in the aforementioned categories and special in the stolen base department. Don't wait longer than round three if you want Dee, as chances are he won't be there.
Later round starter consideration
Jose Fernandez is going to make a lot of people very happy this year I think. Many people will shy away from due to his injury history, but he's going to be a steal pitching like the staff ace that he is after the traditional work horses are gone. If you are a wise fantasy player, you're coupling him with a historically more reliable ace (or two) as damage control. Know the crowd you're drafting with. Paying close attention to their first few picks should tell you a lot about whether to expect him to be around in the sixth round, when many other aces may have fallen and you might think about grabbing him.
A.J. Ramos is the unquestioned closer heading into the 2016 season, thanks to Carter Capps' ill fortune. He was solid last season and should be so again, but don't reach for him, or any closer for that matter. Every year, a random closer gets 40 plus saves. Maybe that's Ramos this year, and you'll feel smart if he was the first closer you drafted (because you were wisely stocking up on more important positions beforehand).
Christian Yelich has the promise of a five tool player, but he needs to hit the ball in the air more consistently to really be counted on to drive the ball. Thus, he makes for a nice fourth outfielder for fantasy purposes, with his combination of promise and reliability. Personally, I wouldn't count on him as a regular unless you were stacked in the power/run producer categories.
Wei-Yin Chen should be an excellent addition to a Marlins pitching staff that desperately needed some consistency behind Fernández. In fantasy, his middling numbers may warrant consideration, but there are too many pitchers on the board ahead of him in most standard leagues with higher upside. If he ends up being one of your three best pitchers, I will posit that you are probably doing something wrong. He will probably provide some value in most of his starts and in all likelihood will end up with double digit wins and a lower ERA then his career 3.72 mark. Once again, utilization comes down how your team has been built when it comes time to call Wei-Yin Chen's number.
Strong bounce-back candidate
Marcell Ozuna will be better this year. I believe he will be a legitimate third starting outfielder and those who reach for him as such will be rewarded. He will provide both home runs and RBIs, which can be hard categories to keep covered via the waiver wire. Particularly useful in leagues where batter strikeouts do not count against you.
I am hopeful that Justin Bour goes full superstar this year; I recognize that it's not likely. Still, you may have room on your roster for a 20-30 home run first baseman, particularly if you have a platoon counterpart to spell Bour on days he's facing left handed pitching.
J.T. Realmuto has potential growth in his stick and on the base paths. I wouldn't be in the least surprised if he ends up being one of the 10-12 most valuable catchers in standard leagues by season's end.
Tom Koehler is a paragon of consistency at a level that makes him useful to the Marlins and useful to fantasy players in deep leagues. Jarred Cosart has seemingly lived off of his upside his entire career and is worth a coin flip in a deep league rotation to start off a season. I'm not as high on Adam Conley as others here might be, but he was useful in his rookie season and may get the opportunity to continue to impress if given the fifth starter gig. All three are useful streaming options in all formats.
Adeiny Hechavarria, as mentioned at the top of the article, ended up being a useful player in my deep league last season. The waiver wire can be thin in an 18 team league as the season wears on, and oftentimes if you have a starter go down or perform poorly, you don't have much recourse. Hech doesn't offer much beyond batting average and the occasional hot streak, but sometimes that's enough when compared to the rest of the field.
You may recall that Steve Cishek was the closer here at the beginning of last season. He collapsed and Ramos took the job. This happens every year, which is why it's important to not bank on one or two so-called "elite" closers with gaudy numbers from the previous season. Though it's not anticipated, if Ramos were to face a similar fate, the first man up up initially may be longtime Marlin Mike Dunn. Bryan Morris may also be in the mix as a part of a committee. Recently demoted Kyle Barraclough, who was closing for St. Louis in the minors last season before being brought over in the Cishek trade, may also ultimately be in consideration.
Derek Dietrich might have some value as a spot starter against right handed pitching, particularly as a middle infielder with double digit pop, but he wont be anything more then that unless there is an injury or trade. A name to keep an eye on whilst perusing the waiver wire.
We are gauging interest in a Fish Stripes fantasy baseball league. If we get nine other teams (beside my own), I will run a league this year (via Yahoo). The only prerequisite is that you are a member of Fish Stripes. If you're interested, leave a comment or send me a message via the e-mail listed in my profile.