The Miami Marlins (32-49) are who we thought they would be at the midpoint of their 2019 season. Although the Fish have spent the lion’s share of the first half holding the worst record in the National League, bringing embarrassment upon themselves several times along the way, there’s been progress. With disciplined decision-making and decent luck, the club should only improve from this point forward.
It’s a cliché, but oh so true: the MLB schedule is a marathon for players, coaches and fans alike. Particularly this season, Mile 1, Mile 4, Mile 9, etc. could be just as exhilarating as crossing the finish line. Lacking the talent and experience to contend for a championship, we depend on subplots to provide engagement instead.
So let us take a breath to reminisce on the first 81 games and put this Marlins team and its key figures in the proper perspective.
Entering Sunday, the Marlins are on pace for...
- 64-98 record, minus-146 run differential—That is eerily similar to the inaugural 1993 season (64-98, minus-143).
- 757,197 announced attendance—That would set a new franchise single-season low in terms of both total and average (9,348 per game), although it’s been well documented how new Marlins ownership counts only paid fans, rather than inflating the figures.
- 1,436 strikeouts by Marlins batters—Current record is 1,419 Ks by the 2014 team.
- Six triples—That would set a new single-season low for a National League team; in the AL, the 2017 Blue Jays tripled just five times.
- .285 batting average on balls in play allowed—Young right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Elieser Hernandez stick out for their ability to minimize hard contact, but this has been a group effort. The 1993 Fish set the bar with a .286 BABIP.
- 78 hit by pitches allowed—Already 16 different pitchers have issued at least one HBP. The 2007 Florida Marlins staff plunked 76 opponents. Jose Ureña’s availability down the stretch (herniated disc) could go a long way toward affecting the “pursuit” of this record.
- 100% of starts by pitchers under age 30—Assuming no “opener” situations with Sergio Romo, the only veterans who might potentially break up the youth movement are Wei-Yin Chen and Triple-A standout Hector Noesí.
Individual Player Stats
- Second baseman Starlin Castro has a 53 wRC+ in 2019. Adeiny Hechavarria currently owns the lowest single-season weighted runs created plus marks by a qualified batter in Marlins history (56 wRC+ in 2013, 59 wRC+ in 2016). You can basically rule out the possibility of a Castro trade, but he’s still a candidate to be claimed off waivers or released later this summer, thus falling short of the “qualified” threshold.
- No Marlins third baseman has ever had more Defensive Runs Saved than Brian Anderson does this season (9 DRS). He is tied with 2015 Martín Prado. One caveat, though, is this stat only dates back to 2002, so it’s missing a few Mike Lowell campaigns.
- More on Anderson...he leads the club in plate appearances, extra-base hits, runs batted in, walks and hit by pitches. You rarely see that combination!
- “Hitting Harold” Ramírez (.316/.353/.411, 107 wRC+) is in the midst of the best MLB campaign that any Colombian outfielder has ever had. On a related note, the Marlins on several occasions have had Ramírez, Jorge Alfaro and Tayron Guerrero appear in the same game, setting a new record for Colombian representation at the major league level.
- Speaking of Alfaro, he’s been chasing more than 50% of all pitches thrown to him outside the strike zone, per FanGraphs. I’ll rephrase that for emphasis: when you throw Alfaro a pitch that is not in the zone, he will usually swing at it. Since complete pitch location tracking began in 2002, he is the only MLB player with that approach in any season (among those with at least 200 plate appearances).
- Right-hander Jordan Yamamoto rewrote a handful of Marlins records related to streaks to begin a starting pitcher’s major league career. He didn’t surrender a run until his 15th inning of work, earned the win in each of his first three appearances and has continued to suppress hits throughout.
- Biggest surprises: Garrett Cooper, Caleb Smith, Yamamoto
- Biggest disappointments: Lewis Brinson, Castro, Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Conley
- Best feel-good story: Wilkin Castillo
- Most likely to be traded (for a decent return): Neil Walker
- Most likely to be extended: Brian Anderson
- Most anticipated second-half call-ups: Isan Díaz, Monte Harrison
In chronological order, relive these exhilarating 2019 Marlins moments (Baseball-Reference box scores in parentheses)...
Opening Day; new uniforms/ballpark enhancements debut (vs. Rockies on March 28)
Isaac Galloway’s outfield defense (vs. Cubs on April 16)
Sandy Alcantara’s shutout (vs. Mets on May 19)
Garrett Cooper’s game-winning grand slam (at Tigers on May 23)
11-run inning (at Brewers on June 4)
Yamamoto’s MLB debut (vs. Cardinals on June 12)
Wilkin Castillo’s 10-year hitting streak (at Phillies on June 22)
Five-run comeback complete (vs. Phillies on June 29)
Anything missing from here? Please comment with your big takeaways from the Marlins season thus far.