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Marlins are bound to be bad, and that’s OK

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This team can’t compete in 2018, but that says more about the strength of the NL East than the state of Miami’s rebuild.

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

With Memorial Day approaching, it seems like the appropriate time to look at what the Marlins have done so far this season and set expectations going forward.

Entering 2018, the Marlins were considered by many to be the worst team in baseball. Some even made them out to be a Triple-A-caliber team, and taking a quick glance at the standings, it is easy to come away with the impression that everything is going according to plan. Their record stands at 19-30, which puts them on pace for 63 wins; the over/under total in Vegas this spring was 64.5. The San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers held the worst records in the league last season by going 64-98.

That being said, it’s not time to give up on the Marlins yet: they have simply fallen victim to their tough schedule.

Miami has played only nine of 49 games against teams below .500, those being series against the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers (twice). It’s worth noting that the Dodgers are something of a sleeping giant, with the seventh-best odds to win the World Series despite slumping out of the gate, according to FanGraphs. Nearly every game has been stressful and hard-fought.

According to ESPN, the Marlins have the top-ranked strength of schedule in the league entering Thursday at .529. Fellow NL East rivals—the Braves, Mets and Phillies—also crack the top six. The majority of their remaining schedule will be played inside the division. So if the Marlins do finish near the top of the reverse standings as initially expected, it would be largely because their most frequent opponents overachieved.

MLB Relative Power Index

Team Strength of Schedule Actual W-L Expected W-L
Team Strength of Schedule Actual W-L Expected W-L
Marlins .529 19-30 15-34
Braves .528 29-19 31-17
Rangers .525 20-31 19-32
Athletics .522 25-24 24-25
Phillies .518 28-19 28-19
Mets .517 24-21 21-24
ESPN

When looking at the run differentials of the teams the Marlins have faced, it becomes even more apparent just how tough there schedule has been and will continue to be in the future.

They have already faced six of the top 10 teams and only three teams with a negative differential. The worst team the Marlins have faced all year is the Reds, who rank 25th in the majors. Not shocking given what you now know about their opponents, the Marlins themselves rank dead last (minus-85).

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Winning games was never a top priority for the 2018 Marlins, anyway. It’s about exposing young players to valuable MLB at-bats and innings, evaluating that performance and moving forward with a better understanding of who belongs in their long-term core. Letting Lewis Brinson learn through his struggles and (hopefully soon) inserting Sandy Alcántara into the rotation are far more important developments than winning an extra game or two this season on the backs of disposable veterans.

Although fans are not satisfied right now with the record of the Marlins, they can gain a new appreciation for where they are at this point by considering the level of difficulty in the NL East. Ignore the standings and enjoy watching the future of the team grow before your eyes.