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2020 Marlins Season Preview: Jorge Alfaro

Alfaro had decent numbers in 2019, but he has the potential to take another step forward in 2020.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The annual tradition has returned. Leading up to Opening Day, Fish Stripes will be previewing the 2020 Marlins season, one player at a time. Find every article of the series here.

Where Did He Come From? The Marlins acquired catcher Jorge Alfaro from the Phillies in February 2019 as part of a package that included RHP Sixto Sánchez and LHP Will Stewart in exchange for catcher J.T. Realmuto.

2019 Performance

.262/.312/.425 | 33 XBH | 95 wRC+ | 95 OPS+ | .312 wOBA | 130 games

In his first season as a Marlin, Alfaro recorded interesting numbers, including a decent line, 14 doubles, and 18 homers. He was much better against lefties (.286/.322/.491 | 110 OPS+) even though he registered 12 of his 18 dingers against righties (.254/.308/.401 | 89 OPS+).

A low contact percentage (64.0%) and a bad approach at the plate —with high strikeout (33.1%) and low walk rates (4.7 %)— were Alfaro’s biggest enemies in 2019. In fact, when he did everything but striking out, Jorge hit for a .408 average and a .661 slugging percentage.

Baseball Savant

For sure, the season for “El Oso” could have gone a better way. He’s not the slowest running catcher, but he’s still a catcher, so hitting more than half of his balls (52.7% in 2019) is not good at all. Part of the reason Alfaro didn’t send a few more out of the park is his low launch angle: 4.7º (8.3º in 2018). MLB average was 11.2º.

Even though he has room for offensive improvement, Jorge made up a statement with his 2019 season: he’s in Miami to stay.

Off The Field

Alfaro has enjoyed these offseason days having fun with animals, contributing to charity events in Colombia and spending time with his entire family.

Jorge has a little one called Abiel, who turned four years old in late September.

He’s not as active in social media as we would like him to be, but when he is, his posts are good to see, just like this one:

You can follow Marlins’ starting catcher on Instagram and Twitter.

2020 Expectations

There’s no reason to think Alfaro won’t be interested in becoming a better player. And to do so, he needs to alter his swing and stop hitting so many groundballs. He has to take advantage of his enormous power.

The Colombian is a work in progress, but you might think he’s ready to be in more games for the Marlins this year and have better stats. He will be in the middle of a lineup that looks superior to last year’s and that might bring more protection for him.

Expectations for Alfaro can be tricky. If he develops a higher launch angle, you can expect 25-plus home runs and way more doubles. That way, he’d become the first Marlins player to hit at least 20 bombs as a catcher. Charles Johnson (1997) and Realmuto (16) fell short of that mark (19).

It’s better for you if you’re not expecting a .315 batting average from the backstop, but there are stats that make us think that he can increase noticeably his long balls, which would cause an immediate impact on his RBIs and XBHs numbers.

2020 Steamer projection: .243/.294/.399 | 33 XBH | 82 wRC+ | .293 wOBA | 107 games