The Marlins finished a disappointing 2021 campaign with a 67-95 record, good for fourth in the NL East and 21 ½ games removed from the top spot in the division. The bar is set so low that improvement in 2022 should be a given. But how much should Marlins’ fans expect?
Why Marlins Will Be Better
Let’s start with the backstop, Jacob Stallings, whom the Marlins acquired from the Pirates in late November by dealing right-handed pitcher, Zach Thompson, as well as a pair of Top 30 ranked minor leaguers, right-handed pitcher Kyle Nicolas (2nd round pick in 2020) and outfielder Connor Scott (1st round pick in 2018).
The 32-year-old is the ideal stabilizing presence behind the plate for a young pitching staff. Although his offensive numbers won’t turn any heads as evidenced by his .254 career batting average with eight home runs over 112 games last season, he was a Gold Glove recipient in 2021 and owned a fielding percentage of .993.
Marlins’ management understood the gravity of getting big bats in the lineup after a season in which they landed 29th of 30 teams averaging 3.8 runs per game. And to effectuate that end, the team welcomed big banger, Avisail García, into the Miami clubhouse who hit a career-high 29 dingers for the Brewers last year.
One of the smaller but significant acquisitions was bringing All-Star Joey Wendle to the Miami infield where he is ostensibly slated to play third base but can manage any infield position with aplomb. He could be the equivalent of Super Sub, Brock Holt, from the 2015 Red Sox who made the All-Star team as a jack-of-all-trades from that season.
But to get you must give and the Marlins traded away another top prospect when they sent 23-year-old outfielder and the 34th overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, Kameron Misner, to the Rays in compensation.
Although the current lockout prohibits teams and players from communicating, there is certain to be more wheeling and dealing from the Marlins’ front office once the sides can come to terms. And while Miami is still several moves away from competing for a division title or even, dare we say, the pennant, we should consider that some of the sharps in Sin City and professional baseball handicappers are quietly including the Marlins in their free MLB picks as a dark horse this season. At most sportsbooks the Marlins are a long shot to win the World Series in 2022 coming in at +6600. So bet $100 and you walk away with $6,600.
Sandy is Dandy & Trevor is Clever
If you are a Marlins fan then you have to be overjoyed with what you saw last season in rookie Trevor Rogers. Miami’s first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft, Rogers copped the National League’s Rookie Pitcher of the Month in April and May and was the team’s only All-Star selection while finishing second to the Reds’ Jonathan India in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
When notified of his All-Star selection the young southpaw said, “I’m playing against the best players in the world and for me to get honored for having success at this level in back-to-back months is a real honor. It really means a lot to me.”
But having a young ace in the making is one thing but having another on the same roster is an embarrassment of riches in this day and age when so many teams are desperate for starting pitching. We speak, of course, of 26-year-old righty, Sandy Alcantara.
Last season the 6’4” native of the Dominican Republic pitched his way to a 3.19 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and a 4.1 WAR. His 9-15 record belies his contributions and is evidence that the Marlins need to score more runs, many more, to give their starters a chance at a winning record.
Therefore, it wasn’t at all surprising that the Marlins were eager to sign Alcantara to an extension in the offseason after he became the first Marlins pitcher in 19 years to register 200 strikeouts in 200 innings last season.
“I think the thing that it says is it talks about the consistency,” Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly commented on Alcantara’s 2021 stats. “He’s stayed healthy. He’s consistent. Basically, you got to average so many innings every time you get the ball. It shows that you’re consistent. It shows that you’re able to pitch deep in the game. It shows your stuff works not only on the first and second time through the order.”
Miami also acquired career minor leaguer Louis Head in a deal with Tampa Bay and some believe the 31-year-old is growing into a solid reliever who will assist a decent Miami relief corps already in place. Head appeared in 27 games, including a pair of starts, for the Rays and ended with a 2-0 record with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP.
Overall, the Marlins have acquitted themselves nicely thus far in the offseason but are paralyzed to do much of anything else until the lockout ends. Nevertheless, Marlins fans will undoubtedly enjoy this iteration much more than the last.