Call me crazy, but I expected the Marlins to make the playoffs this year.
That thought was largely centered around the idea that they couldn’t possibly experience the rash of injuries they sustained the previous season. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez, amongst others, all spent a good chunk of 2015 on the disabled list. Those injuries forced role players like Justin Nicolino and Cole Gillespie into significant playing time, painting an ugly picture of the Marlin’s depth in the process.
I wasn’t terribly worried about the depth this season, though, because there was no way that catastrophe would strike again in the form of a team wide injury bug, right?
Wrong. So very wrong. The list of Marlins walking wounded is long and sad:
- Raudel Lazo LHP
- Bryan Morris RHP
- Carter Capps RHP
- Mike Dunn LHP
- Edwin Jackson RHP
- Colin Rea RHP
- Nefi Ogando RHP
- Kendrys Flores RHP
- Derek Dietrich 2B
- Adam Conley LHP
- Wei-Yin Chen LHP
- Justin Bour 1B
- Giancarlo Stanton RF
- David Phelps RHP
You probably forgot a couple of those guys were even Marlins. I know I did.
This, of course, doesn’t include the absence of the reigning NL batting champion Dee Gordon for 80 games in the middle of the season due to a banned substances suspension.
The Fish had a lot working against them in 2016, and they compounded on that by going (to this point) a combined 29-36 against the National League East. They did, however, pound on the Pirates and Dodgers (12-2). So, there’s that, I guess
Projection systems early on pegged the Marlins in the 76-80 win range, and that does look like where they’ll ultimately end up, but that just tells me that they weren’t bullish enough. The offense was better than predicted. The bullpen had stretches of real competence (think more Wittgren, Barraclough, Phelps, less post-injury Ramos, Rodney, Breslow). Jose Fernandez spent most of the season pitching like a Cy Young contender. Marcell Ozuna, on the whole, bounced back in a big way. Ichiro had his 3,000th hit and turned back time in the field and up at the dish. Adam Conley has established himself as a legitimate middle of the rotation starter. On and on.
The whole point of this rambling diatribe is to find out how you feel about the winding down 2016 season. Perhaps it’s not the best time to poll emotions at the tail end of a depressing playoff collapse for a franchise now all but guaranteed to miss it’s 13th post-season in a row, but I’m asking for perspective here.
All told, the Marlins spent the better part of the season in the thick of the wild card race before injuries finally took their lofty toll in August and September. It is disappointing, to be sure, knowing what could’ve been, but my question to you is this, fellow Fish fan: Are you going to be able to look back fondly on this season, like, say, 2009, as a year that was enjoyable even though they didn’t ultimately meet the goal of reaching the playoffs?
Well, are you?