The Miami Marlins were cruising along with a decent opportunity to make the playoffs under the second Wild Card this season. They were neck-and-neck with the St. Louis Cardinals for that spot, with the Los Angeles Dodgers / San Francisco Giants well out of reach of their grasp. But as the Fish and Cardinals traded time at the top, other teams still remained in the race, making this a difficult race to prognosticate. Still, it seemed like the Marlins had a decent chance going into this weekend’s series with the Chicago White Sox. On August 12, the Fish held a 40 percent chance to make the playoffs by FanGraphs’ Playoff Odds, which are based on rest-of-season projections and their estimations on the team’s depth charts and who would be filling in the time. They were estimated to finish the season at 85 wins, essentially a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Well, over the weekend some bad news happened in the form of the injuries to Adam Conley and, more importantly, Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is likely out for the rest of the 2016 season with a severe groin strain, leaving the Fish without one of their best players for the remainder of the campaign. In just a few days, the Marlins’ 2016 season was drastically damaged in terms of their chances to make the playoffs. Take a look at the likely Wild Card race as of today according to FanGraphs.
Perhaps just as telling, take a look at how the race has changed in just a few days in chart form.
That orange line is the Marlins. They had stood for most of August tied with the Cardinals in large part because they had played well in July and scratched their way to the top of the list. The Cardinals have always been expected to be the better team, but the Marlins had garnered the smallest of edges this late in the year, giving them even odds to make the playoffs. In two days, that orange line dropped drastically, from 39.6 percent on August 12 to 22.4 percent today. Now the Marlins own the same chance as the Pittsburgh Pirates, who currently sit a game back of the team, at making the playoffs. Both teams are expected to finish just shy of 84 wins.
Why did it fall so badly? It should not surprise you that Giancarlo Stanton’s injury is a devastating one to the Marlins. He was expected to hit .259/.354/.540 (.373 wOBA) by ZiPS for the rest of the season, and in approximately 150 plate appearances, that would have been worth about one win. Now the Marlins are primarily likely to replace him with Ichiro Suzuki. While Ichiro has been spectacular this year, the projection systems still do not like his chances of continuing to hit this well; he is projected to .266/.319/.332 the rest of the way and be a replacement-level player. Essentially, the Marlins just shaved a win and change off of their expected total by the end of the year, and this late in the game with a race this close, a win is a major change in the standings.
The road to the playoffs just got a lot harder for the Marlins. Let’s see if the rest of the team can help step up their game.