Everyone who even casually follows the Marlins knows that the team was not going to be playing in the World Series this week. But that doesn’t mean the team was devoid of exciting stories or surprising players. Below, I’ve chosen my favorites for your perusal.
Realmuto took another step forward in 2018, a step that made him possibly the best catcher in baseball. He exceeded all of even his most optimistic offensive projections and established new career highs with 4.8 WAR, 21 home runs, 74 runs, and 74 RBI on a team that scored 589 runs, the fewest in all of baseball, and almost 200 fewer than they did in 2017 (778). The 27-year-old also remained excellent defensively and led all catchers with at least five steal attempts against them in pop time, which measures the accuracy and quickness of a catcher’s throw to second base. He also made his first all-star team.
Ureña beat his ERA projections by a full run in some cases. He did so (surprise!) by walking fewer hitters and keeping the ball in the yard, but he also relied on a red-hot final six weeks. After the Dominican was infamously ejected for hitting Ronald Acuña with a pitch on August 15, Ureña would finish the season by going 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA over his final seven starts.
He allowed just one run in each of those victories, the lone blip coming August 28 when he allowed four runs in a six-inning no-decision against 108-win and soon-to-be-world-champion Boston (so we’ll forgive him). Ureña credited the post-Acuña surge with increased use of his breaking stuff, so whether he is able to continue to succeed bears watching in 2019.
To close the season, José Ureña, Trevor Richards, and Sandy Alcantara were lights out. pic.twitter.com/WdAeXbYcsa— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) October 1, 2018
It would be impossible not to include the Marlins Rookie of the Year on this list. Anderson surprisingly won the third-base job in Spring Training and went on to play 156 games, hit 11 home runs, score 87 times and knock in 65. He also learned to play the outfield mid-season. Were generational talents Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto not also in this rookie class, BA might have been the frontrunner for the league ROY as well.
“El Profe,” as I like to call him due to a stint in prior to the season as a substitute teacher, was obviously not on the Opening Day roster, was not expected to be, and had never played above AA prior to 2018. Therefore, anything he did for the Major League team qualifies as a surprise. The Marlins’ 19th-ranked prospect entering the year was called up as the 26th man to start in a double-header on April 2, struggled in what ended up being a month-long stint, and got sent down until June.
In the second half though, he’d put up a 4.10 ERA while flashing one of the deadliest changeups in the biz. Just search for “Trevor Richards changeup” on Twitter; it’s sick. If he can find another above average offering and perhaps add a bit of velocity to his fastball, Drury University’s first major-leaguer could stick around a while.
How It's Made: Trevor Richards' f i l t h y change piece. pic.twitter.com/6knnO49xA1— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) October 24, 2018
Who you got?
Alas, this list can’t go on forever, although I think a few more guys could easily have made it. What say you? Who else surprised you in 2018? Let us know in the comments.