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What could’ve happened: Everything you’re missing without baseball

From MLB debuts to recent acquisitions’ performances, here’s a guide to the top storylines surrounding the 2020 Marlins.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Miami Marlins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve entered what was supposed to be the third full month of the regular season. Baseball has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shocked the world throughout 2020. The campaign which would have begun on March 26 still has no revised start date.

At this point, many of us are wondering: where would the Marlins be under normal circumstances? How would the players have performed? Which key storylines would we be monitoring? Fish Stripes has posted weekly season simulation results. Although very entertaining, that’s no substitute for the real thing.

The 2020 Marlins were expected to be more interesting than the 2019 version thanks to veteran acquisitions and development from talented young players.

For example, we might be missing Jesús Aguilar’s possible rebound season. Claimed off waivers from the Rays, the Venezuelan slugged 25 doubles and 35 home runs with 108 runs driven in two years ago for the Brewers before slumping in 2019 (.236/.325/.389).

Based on his Spring Training usage, Don Mattingly seemed sold on Aguilar as the club’s regular first baseman and a middle-of-the-order bat. Anything over the 12 doubles and the 12 dingers he hit a year ago would be good for Miami.

Regarding the starting rotation competition, we’d know by now who would have gone to the bullpen probably among Pablo López, Jordan Yamamoto and Eliéser Hernández, or whether all the intriguing arms forced the Marlins to experiment with a six-man rotation. José Ureña was intriguing, too, trying to straighten out his career—and trade value—after an inconsistent, injury-shortened 2019 (5.21 ERA, 1.48 WHIP). Would there already be rumored deals sending Ureña to contenders, or would the Fish still be on the fringe of the playoff race?

Let’s talk about catchers. Probably, Mattingly would be carrying two catchers: Jorge Alfaro and Francisco Cervelli. And they both have exciting stories to cover. Alfaro had all of us asking whether he can take advantage of his raw power at home plate, hit for more power, and avoid strikeouts. On the other hand, Cervelli would be helping Alfaro and the team’s young pitchers with his game-calling and pitch-framing skills.

The skill sets and versatility of Garrett Cooper and Jon Berti create good problems for Mattingly in terms of dividing up playing time. Would there be room on the roster for the clutch bats of both Harold Ramírez and Matt Joyce? With Aguilar at first, Isan Díaz at second, Brian Anderson at third, Miguel Rojas at shortstop, Corey Dickerson at left field, Jonathan Villar at center, and Lewis Brinson at right, the Marlins would have been able to score runs in a variety of ways.

The newcomers. I don’t know about you guys, but I was excited to see the performance of Villar, Joyce, Aguilar, and Dickerson. They seem to fit well in the Marlins offensive order and were acquired to fill the team’s voids. It’d be especially fun to see the first three, since their contracts will expire at the end of 2020.

As you’re all painfully aware of, Brinson has failed to translate his minor league success to the bigs and has slashed .189/.238/.294 over two seasons as a Marlin (654 PA in 184 games). There doesn’t seem to be much time left for him in the Marlins organization if the struggles continue. These first couple months would’ve been critical to sorting out his place on the outfield depth chart. Depending on what happens with Brinson, the door to the majors could open for prospect Monte Harrison, though that would have happened this year at some point, anyway.

Feel excited about everything you just read? At least for now, all we can do is find ways to stay hopeful and trust that MLB owners and players can reach a compromise for the regular season to start as soon as possible.