The projected 2022 Opening Day starting outfield for the Marlins is Jorge Soler in left, Jesús Sánchez in center and Avisaíl García in right. All three caught fire at the plate toward the end of last season—a 134 wRC+ post-trade deadline for Soler, 142 wRC+ for García and 127 wRC+ for Sánchez. The Marlins’ realistic best-case scenario? Having them maintain production in that neighborhood and avoiding significant injuries. This trio has awesome offensive potential, arguably one of the five highest ceilings among MLB outfields.
It’s a different story defensively. Soler and García are big guys with slow first steps. Sánchez graded out very well in right field in 2021, but his switch to center could expose his questionable route-running technique and decision-making. Their fielding skill sets are not complementary. If anything, the Marlins should worry about them compounding each other’s mistakes and negating some of their run production value.
Expect each of these regulars (Soler more so than the other two) to occasionally rest their gloves in the designated hitter’s spot. When they do, the versatile Brian Anderson and Jon Berti can make spot starts in their place. But neither are ideal contributors in center.
The Marlins do not need a conventional, natural, rangy reserve outfielder on their active roster, but they seem to be going in that direction. It won’t be Bryan De La Cruz—despite his successful rookie campaign, he has already been optioned him to Triple-A, likely to return if/when an everyday role opens up. It won’t be Brian Miller, either, who has spent most of spring training in minor league camp.
Who’s still under consideration for the final outfield job? Roman Quinn and Delino DeShields. The Marlins would be looking for one of them to provide good defense and baserunning as a late-inning sub and perhaps to be the starting CF in certain matchups.
Let’s review the tale of the tape for these non-roster invitees.
The quality of their past regular season performance is eerily similar. DeShields has a lifetime wRC+ of 77 and Quinn is at 78. The only time that either of them cracked 100 (league average) in a single season was DeShields for the 2021 Reds, though that was just 58 plate appearances. DeShields has had about four times as much MLB playing time, therefore many of his career counting stats are quadrupled those of Quinn.
Quinn is nine months younger—he turns 29 in May, while DeShields celebrates his 30th in August. Both have standout agility, but Quinn is literally at the top of the scale. Even his career-low 30.0 ft/sec Sprint Speed last season ranked in the 99th percentile among MLB qualifiers!
Statcast’s Outs Above Average adores DeShields’ defense. He has compiled 26 OAA in 3,373 innings since 2016. That sandwiches him between Víctor Robles (28 OAA) and Cody Bellinger (25). Quinn is at 7 OAA during that period (again, keep the sample size differences in mind).
Quinn is now 10 months removed from rupturing his left Achilles tendon. He admitted to Tim Kelly of Phillies Nation that he was initially concerned about the injury being career-threatening. However, Quinn believes his speed has been fully restored after extensive rehab.
Quinn signed his minor league free agent deal with the Marlins a few days before DeShields and has received more playing time in Grapefruit League action (8 G/15 PA entering Saturday compared to DeShields’ 4 G/8 PA). Neither of them has made any noise at the plate.
DeShields is a right-handed batter, just like most of the outfield candidates on the Marlins 40-man roster. Quinn is a switch-hitter whose numbers have been roughly the same from both sides throughout his career with the exception of 2021 (139 wRC+ vs. RHP, -17 wRC+ vs. LHP).
Merely a guess: I think Roman Quinn makes the cut. It could be a short-lived Marlins tenure—MLB active rosters will only be stretched to 28 spots through May 1 before reverting to the usual 26. He’ll have less than a month to show that he can impact winning in various ways.
Will Roman Quinn or Delino DeShields make the 2022 Marlins Opening Day roster?
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