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2020 Marlins Season Preview: Matt Joyce

Joyce is ready to be a nice addition to the Marlins bench.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-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 signed free agent outfielder Matt Joyce to a one-year deal for $1.5MM. The team made it official on February 3.

2019 Performance

.295/.408/.450 | 17 XBH | 128 wRC+ | 120+ OPS | .372 wOBA | 129 games

Matt Joyce enjoyed a pretty solid year as a member of the Braves in 2019, when he participated in 129 games. He was used almost exclusively as a platoon guy, only facing right-handed pitchers and knocking them down. The veteran outfielder proved to be a good hitter when he’s used in the right matchups.

The 35-year-old logged 10 doubles and seven home runs across 238 plate appearances, in which he registered a .408 on-base percentage. That ranked sixth among men with at least 200 PA in all the major leagues, just behind Anthony Rendon, Yordan Álvarez, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich, and—of course— Mike Trout.

More than 89 percent of Joyce’s trips to the plate were against righties, but there’s a reason for that. He slashed .298/.410/.461 against them, including all of his seven balls out of the park. The good part of everything is that he was not bad when he faced lefties either: .273/.385/.364 in 26 PA.

In 2019, the Florida native registered the highest hard-hit rate of his career (40.6%) and his second-lowest soft-hit rate (14.8%), encouraging numbers before his 13th season in MLB.

Off The Field

Matt Joyce is basically everything you can expect from a baseball player. Based on what we’ve seen on his Instagram profile, he’s a lovely father and husband as well. The new member of the Marlins enjoys playing golf and going to the beach when he’s not on the field.

Go ahead, you guys can fall in love with the following posts...

According to Baseball-Reference, Joyce has made approximately $25 million during his playing career. In addition, he is involved with health and fitness franchise F45 and an investor in Tampa area developer Sight Real Estate (among other off-the-field ventures).

That fortune has allowed him to enjoy life the way it should be enjoyed and go on trips like these...

Follow Joyce on Instagram (@joycer247) and Twitter (@sweetswingin20).

2020 Expectations

Joyce won’t be a regular outfielder for the Marlins, probably. He can add value to the team by being used in comfortable matchups—86.6 % of his career plate appearances have come against right-handed pitchers and it’ll probably stay that way.

But still, Don Mattingly should give him plenty of action off the bench on a near-daily basis, as Braves manager Brian Snitker did last year. Of his 129 games, Joyce only started in 39 of them and was used 87 times as a pinch-hitter.

Joyce has started only one game in center field over the past decade, so defensively, the Marlins will limit him to the corner spots. Given Corey Dickerson’s injury history, it wouldn’t be surprisingly if Joyce eventually gets a stretch of consistent reps in left field in his place. Otherwise, he’ll be inserted in right, with Brian Anderson moving to third base and the rest of the fielders shifting around accordingly.

The veteran outfielder brings a good resume from last year against NL East rivals. In 2019, he hit for a .307 average against the Mets, the Phillies, and the Nationals, thanks to 23 hits in 75 at-bats, including five home runs and 11 RBIs. At Marlins Park, he is a lifetime .289/.396/.644 slash line across 20 games, with 10 extra base-hits (7 2B, 3 HRs).

At $1.5MM with a 250K bonus based on plate appearances, Matt Joyce is a bargain pick-up for the Marlins front office. Expect 2020 to be a fun ride for him as a member of the Fish.

2020 Steamer projection: .238/.346/.411 | 20 XBH | 104 wRC+ | .326 wOBA | 66 games