Through six spring training games played in the Grapefruit League, the Miami Marlins have only lost once.
Enjoy it! There’s no guarantee that they’ll have any stretches like this during what projects to be a challenging 2018 summer.
Over at Viva El Birdos, Tyler Kinzy tested the correlation between MLB preseason and regular season records, concluding that what we’re witnessing right now has “little predictive power.” And as of Mar. 1, with just a small fraction of the exhibition schedule in the books, the results shouldn’t persuade us to raise expectations.
That being said, the Marlins reported to camp in Jupiter this year with more position battles than a typical team has: multiple openings in the starting rotation and bullpen; the left side of the infield; and the entire outfield. In addition to all of the other available data, individual spring training stats could factor into those roster decisions.
Wei-Yin Chen, Martin Prado and JT Riddle continue to rehab from significant injuries and have been held out of live competition thus far. A handful of healthy relievers—including closer candidates Kyle Barraclough and Brad Ziegler—have been preparing at a deliberate pace, so no Grapefruit League appearances for them, either.
However, 55 Marlins players did participate in February games. For the first time in five months, we have new stats to analyze.
2018 Marlins Grapefruit League stats, batters
|Van Slyke, S||11||5||2||1||2||0||.500||.545||1.300||1.845|
OF Lewis Brinson—The former first-round pick is no stranger to major league spring training. Brinson was just 18 years old when he got a taste of it with the Texas Rangers organization in 2013. After playing 14 games apiece in both 2016 and 2017, he’s on pace to blow past that in his audition for a Marlins Opening Day roster spot. Through four starts, Don Mattingly has exclusively used Brinson in center field.
LF Derek Dietrich—Don’t let the .125 batting average mislead you into thinking he’s performed poorly. Multiple witnesses confirm that Dietrich nearly smacked a second home run on Wednesday. Mattingly has consistently praised Dietz, suggesting that he’ll serve as Miami’s primary left fielder and bat near the top of the lineup once the real games get here.
1B/OF Scott Van Slyke—Did you know: the 31-year-old already has more total bases in five spring training games (13) than he had in 29 regular season games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 (12). Van Slyke offers a similar skill set to Garrett Cooper, so a month from now, the Marlins will likely need to choose between them to fill a single major league role.
2018 Marlins Grapefruit League stats, pitchers
|Del Pozo, M||1.2||0.00||2||1||0||0||0||0||0.60||.400|
RHP Odrisamer Despaigne—The Cuban veteran has never entered a new season with a secure MLB starting rotation gig. Chen’s ongoing elbow issues are a big boost to his candidacy, and Despaigne continues to help his own cause on the mound.
RHP Sandy Alcantara—He’s the only Marlins pitcher this spring to complete more than one inning without allowing any baserunners (heading into his start vs. the Mets on Thursday). Alcantara’s fastball reportedly touched 96 mph in his first appearance. The highly regarded prospect could surprise and crack the Opening Day roster if he’s able to demonstrate the same command while throwing at max effort.
RHP Zac Gallen—This is what a 45.00 earned run average looks like.
Looking ahead, the Marlins will play six of their next eight games away from the comforts of Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
Even while acknowledging the realities mentioned earlier in the article (you know, about these stats being pretty meaningless), it’s only natural to feel encouraged by what this unheralded squad has shown so far.