Happy New Year, Marlins Nation! I know everyone thinks the New Year happens January 1, but simply put, they are wrong. That day is merely an arbitrary endpoint, or perhaps more correctly, an arbitrary beginning-point. Whoop-de-doo, we made it around the sun again. Hurrah.
Baseball’s Opening Day is the true New Year. For one, it’s not arbitrarily set. Something actually happens. A new season begins and carries with it hope for millions of people.
Many of these people also play the fantasy version of the sport and have similar hopes tied to their teams and the players that they select. A lot of what makes fantasy baseball fun is the ability to control your own team and root for your players. It gets even more fun when you have guys from your favorite MLB team, and that’s what we’re here to discuss: which Marlins will have some fantasy impact this season.
Now, if you’re a realist like me, you might be saying to yourself: “Uh, the Marlins might lose 95 games this season. We just traded away all of our studs. None of these guys are going to do much in the real game or in fantasy.” But hey, they scored a handful of runs yesterday, no? And they’ve got to win 67 or more games somehow, right? So there will be runs, RBI, wins, strikeouts and saves on this team too. And who knows, maybe they will surprise us and win 80 games with better stats than we all imagined.
The fact that the Marlins are expected to be bad might actually mean they’re underrated in fantasy. As you will see, most of the players mentioned here are able to be had for little or nothing, which will make them all the more fun to own when they return a profit. So let’s get to it.
Here are the Marlins you might own in fantasy this season:
The Obvious Guys:
J.T. Realmuto: Eligible at catcher and first base in Yahoo leagues, he was ranked 142 overall heading into the season. Of course, he is on the disabled list with a back issue, which is always concerning for a catcher, so pay attention to that. But Realmuto is probably the only backstop who can steal eight to ten bags, while also helping in batting average and contributing a solid amount (for his position) in the other typical counting categories (60 runs, 15 home runs, and 60 RBI). However, despite being ranked as the fourth overall catcher, it might be a better strategy not to use such an early pick on him because you can probably get similar value later in your draft. MUCH later. Like last-round later in a 10-12 team league.
Justin Bour: Bour is coming off a career-high 25 home runs in just 108 games last year. The problem is, the injury bug has nagged him too, as he has never played more than 129 games in a season. Ranked the number 21 first baseman on Yahoo and number 149 overall, he makes the most sense as a corner infielder in standard 10-12 team leagues. He’ll bat in the heart of the order, and while he probably won’t hit .289 again, his average shouldn’t weigh you down in the category. If you play in a league where you set your lineups daily and can afford to platoon him, he is best used against right-handed starters.
Starlin Castro: Coming off a resurgent stint with the Yankees, he’ll likely regress in a larger park and with less talent surrounding him. The good news is he should bat in the top half of the lineup. The 28-year-old can probably be counted on for similar numbers to Realmuto with a few more RBI but minus the stolen bases. Yahoo has Castro ranked 234 overall and 27 at the keystone, and he can therefore be had quite cheaply. Out of the third spot in the lineup, he could very well out-produce those projections, however.
The Category Specialists:
Brad Ziegler: The 38-year-old is coming off a career-worst 4.79 ERA in an injury-plagued season, but his underlying stats suggest he was the recipient of some bad luck and will likely bounce back this year. Even if he does get back to, say, a 4.00 ERA, you probably don’t want him on your team unless you are in a deep league (14+ teams) or are desperate for saves because he won’t help you in any other category.
Cameron Maybin: Now 30 years old, Maybin has always had trouble staying on the field and played in just 114 games last year. Nevertheless, when he is active he ought to get plenty of playing time and therefore be able to rack up stolen bases. He is best used off the bench or waiver wire when he gets hot or if you need to make up ground in steals.
Caveat: All of the players mentioned thus far are candidates to be traded at some point during the season as the “process” continues, so they may not be in Miami for long. However, with the exception of Ziegler, they’d probably all end up in better situations, helping their counting stats.
Lewis Brinson: At 265 overall and the 84th outfielder Brinson is almost an afterthought in most fantasy leagues. But he has been a top prospect for several years now and is finally getting his shot. In the leadoff spot no less! That late in a draft, Brinson offers immense power/speed potential, although his swing-and-miss tendencies may lead to a low batting average. Nevertheless, that probably won’t keep him from being the most fun Marlin to own this season.
Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider: Either of these guys could succeed Ziegler as closer if he struggles or is traded. Both have the velocity managers love in a closer, but also can struggle with walks, so they might hurt your WHIP. Barraclough had a bit of a down season in 2017 but has been in the majors longer, so he probably has the upper hand in the saves battle should Ziegler need to be replaced. Both setup men can help in leagues that count holds, though I prefer Steckenrider as he has shown better control throughout his career.
Brian Anderson: With Martin Prado on the DL, Anderson is the everyday third baseman and batted fifth on
Opening Day New Year’s, going 2-for-3 with two RBI, a run scored and also reaching via walk. He had a good spring, and if he can continue to prove himself while Prado recovers, he is worth a waiver add in deep leagues for the power numbers he could provide from middle of the order.
Sandy Alcantara: The Marlins’ number one prospect still in the minor leagues, Alcantara should be up and starting at some point this season. Once in the bigs, Marlins fans will want to stash him initially and see if he can be the ace Jeter and Co. hoped for when they got the 22-year-old as the main piece in the Marcell Ozuna trade over the winter.
Don’t count the Marlins out in fantasy just because the team is expected to struggle. There are plenty of interesting players on the team. If you think I missed anyone, please let me know in the comments!