Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng and president of business operations Caroline O’Connor rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. It was a celebration of the diversity of the Marlins organization, with the Marlins being the first professional sports franchise in the United States to have women serving as general manager and president.
The @Marlins are the first major U.S. sports franchise to have women as both their president and general manager. @JudyKShaw catches up with Caroline O'Connor and Kim Ng about their optimism of the team's future and the power of their partnership with @ADT pic.twitter.com/IOBVO7DMwq— NYSE (@NYSE) April 6, 2023
In true stock market fashion, I was curious about which players on the Marlins would make good stocks to buy low (or medium) on.
Just like with real-world stocks, some of these choices are based on small sample sizes. It’s a matter of figuring out if these encouraging 2023 trends—combined with trends from last year—will result in anything significant.
Some Marlins fans were against this 2022 free agent acquisition before games were even played. Throughout his 20s, Soler consistently posted strikeout rates that were worse than the MLB average. Even with his 27 home runs and a World Series MVP award in 2021, many were turned off at the prospect of adding another strikeout-heavy player to the Miami lineup.
While his age-30 campaign was cut short by a back injury in late July, it’s easy to forget he was on pace for 25-plus home runs.
Seven games into 2023, Soler already has three home runs. Two of those came Wednesday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, the latter of which was a three-run shot to left field in the eighth inning to provide insurance runs en route to a 5-1 win.
Soler’s barrel rate is up to 26.3% compared to 12.2% last season and his hard hit rate is at 57.9% after previously being 43.6%. These numbers will surely come back down to earth. But if he can manage to replicate the career-best Statcast numbers he put up in 2019 (16.9 barrel %, 50.1 hard-hit %), this will be a fun year for him, especially if the Marlins keep getting guys on base in front of him.
The 26-year-old has become a bit of a cult hero for Marlins fans over the last two years. But the rest of the league should be worried about what the Marlins are cooking with this one. He had made it onto some radars during the first 21 games after his call-up last May in which he slashed .293/.388/.535 with three home runs.
In order to prove that this wasn’t a flash in the pan, Fortes had to come into the regular season hot. In three starts, he is 3-for-10 with a two-run home run (against the Mets on April 1).
Playing in cavernous loanDepot Park, his speed and ability to simply put balls in play make him possibly the best prototypical player for this team. His BABIP has gone up to .286 this year compared to .252 last year. His sprint of 27.5 ft/sec in in the 75th percentile of all big leaguers, and is the fifth-fastest for a catcher, according to Baseball Savant.
But he’s not just a hitter who can be a serviceable backstop. Fortes is quietly becoming a better defender than his teammate Jacob Stallings, who was traded to Miami from Pittsburgh prior to last season specifically for his defense. While Stallings may be better at blocking, Fortes is in the 80th percentile in framing this year. It’s still too early to get proper rankings on his pop-up time to second base, but last year he was ranked in the 79th percentile.
He has also thrown out two out of five potential base-stealers this year. That rate is above average for any catcher, especially with the introduction of bigger bases and limited pickoff throws from the pitcher.
When people ask you about the Cy Young candidate for the Marlins this year, you’re going to have to clarify, “which one?” After Sandy Alcantara won the award last year for his dominant performance, the Marlins might have another bullet in the chamber.
Luzardo showed flashes of good pitching last year. He finished with a 3.32 ERA and a 3.12 FIP. While he didn’t rack up a lot of counting stats due to a forearm strain, his strikeout rate (30%) and whiff rate (40.2%) ranked in the top quarter of Major League Baseball. This was helped by his fastball that averaged 96.3 MPH with 5.8 inches of horizontal movement. This year, his fastball is averaging 97.3.
The only question for the 25-year-old would be if he can limit his walk rate. He averaged 3.14 walks per nine innings last year, which was near the bottom-third of the league. He walked four batters in 5 2⁄3 innings against the Mets on Opening weekend. He followed it up by walking just one batter in seven innings against the Twins on April 5, along with striking out ten and allowing just one run.