The 2019 Miami Marlins season is at approximately the one-quarter mark. Entering Thursday with a 10-31 record, coming off yet another shutout loss, one thing is already evident: the Marlins have a historically bad offense. While anyone with a pulse understood that the Fish—in Year 2 of a rebuild—would struggle to compete, not many thought it would get ugly to this extent.
You can question the group’s hitting philosophy or Don Mattingly’s pitcher usage, but above all else, this is a story of the Marlins assembling a mediocre roster and many of those players underachieving.
Regardless, it is critical to analyze these individual performances. Does anybody look like a long-term building block? Who can be used as a trade asset this summer and return more young talent to the Marlins farm system?
Position Player Value
Of the nine position players with a minimum of 80 plate appearances, only three are performing above replacement level (via FanGraphs): 1B Neil Walker, 3B/OF Brian Anderson, and C Jorge Alfaro. Every other player that qualifies has negative fWAR (i.e. 2B Starlin Castro, SS Miguel Rojas, OF Curtis Granderson, 3B/1B Martin Prado, UT Rosell Herrera, and CF Lewis Brinson).
It is nice to see future core hopefuls like Anderson and Alfaro doing something to justify they belong at the major league level. That being said, the two of them are behind their 2018 rookie pace. Brinson was supposed to be at a comparable stage of his development, but he forced a demotion to Triple-A with awful production, creating another void on an already-thin roster.
Sans Walker, the Marlins’ veteran placeholders might as well not even bring bats to the plate. Opposing pitchers have been feasting on them nightly.
With outfielders Harold Ramírez and Garrett Cooper getting more consistent playing time moving forward, the hope is that they can elevate the offense toward respectability. Talented prospects, 2B Isan Díaz and OF Monte Harrison, would serve as upgrades to the current roster, but don’t expect the Marlins to rush either of them.
Analysis of the pitching group is a tale of two units. Every member of the Marlins starting rotation is at replacement level or better, with Caleb Smith (1.3 fWAR) and Pablo López (0.7) leading the way in plus value. On the flip side, majority of the bullpen is pitching at or below that threshold (i.e. Adam Conley, Tyler Kinley, Sergio Romo, Drew Steckenrider and Wei-Yin Chen). The two exceptions to this group are Nick Anderson and Tayron Guerrero, whose plus stuff and long-term club control could make them part of an eventual contender in Miami.
The concern is that the Marlins might not have much to sell at the trade deadline.
Again, it seems that the young players are the ones atop the charts for Miami. Alfaro leads with a 3.0 DEF value grade. Although currently with the New Orleans Baby Cakes, Brinson is next up (2.6), followed by Brian Anderson (1.3).
Strike em out, throw em out. Easy money for @CalebASmith12, @_JorgeAlfaro11 and the @Marlins. #JuntosMiami #MLB— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) May 15, 2019
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As for the veterans who are in the lineup regularly, only 2B Starlin Castro has been a positive defender, further illustrating why the Marlins are doing worse than even the most pessimistic projections predicted.
With few exceptions, Marlins players could be supplanted by the next man up in the minors and not be missed on the field, in terms of individual value.