The upshot of the 2022 Miami Marlins ZiPS projections published on Tuesday by Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs is unsurprising: his system thinks they’ll play a lot of low-scoring games and lose too many of them to earn a postseason berth. Most level-headed Marlins fans can agree with that, right? It will require more substantial upgrades to the major league roster on the other side of the lockout to feel confident in this club as a contender.
The offseason is far from over, so I don’t want to get caught up in hypotheticals about the potential of a team that should look different by the time Opening Day arrives. Rather, I am fascinated by the individual players whose projections have changed the most since the 2021 preseason edition of ZiPS. Through a combination of aging and skill development/degradation, which Marlins are being viewed significantly differently than they were the previous year?
Szymborski projects a wins above replacement value for each player (zWAR). I’ll highlight the Marlins players whose projected zWAR for this upcoming season is up or down by at least 0.6 wins compared to 2021. Although I’m focusing only on players who have graduated from prospect eligibility, shoutout to Bryson Brigman for vaulting himself onto ZiPS’ radar with a productive season at Triple-A Jacksonville (up from -0.7 zWAR to 0.9 zWAR).
- Bryan De La Cruz (up from -2.1 to 0.8)—You will find DLC at the very bottom of the batters table inside Szymborski’s ZiPS article about the 2021 Astros. He projected to be the organization’s worst position player within striking distance of a major league call-up. And now look at him! Like me, ZiPS believes the outfielder can continue excelling on batted balls in play. His projected .334 BABIP is second-highest on the Marlins, trailing only Garrett Cooper (.337 BABIP).
- Sandy Alcantara (up from 1.9 to 4.3)—Projected to build upon his career year, Szymborski writes that “ZiPS still thinks he isn’t striking out as many batters as he could given his stuff and plate discipline results.”
- Jesús Sánchez (up from -0.3 to 1.6)—ZiPS cites Hunter Pence as the No. 1 comp for Sánchez at this stage of his career. The Marlins would be thrilled with that. His 2022 zWAR is helped by a rosy defensive projection. I’m skeptical about that part coming to fruition, especially if Miami relocates him from right field (his preferred position) to left.
- Lewin Díaz (up from -0.6 to 1.1)—Now this is a rosy defensive projection that I will co-sign. Is Díaz well-rounded enough at the plate to get everyday reps at first base? ZiPS is in the dark about how the club’s logjam at that position will resolve itself, just like the rest of us.
- Trevor Rogers (up from 1.7 to 3.2)—ZiPS hopped on the Rogers bandwagon early, pegging him as a bonafide starting pitcher several months before his 2021 spring training success. Major league opponents will adjust to what the lefty did as a rookie, but Szymborski writes that the Marlins should not be worried about a steep regression from him.
- Brian Anderson (down from 3.0 to 2.0)—BA is projected for a slight rebound in the power department. Not enough to match his pre-shoulder injury value, though.
- Jacob Stallings (up from 1.5 to 2.4)—ZiPS has Stallings in a virtual tie with Miguel Rojas for highest 2022 zWAR among Marlins batters. Just like Miggy Ro, he is getting a lot of respect for his fielding coming off a Gold Glove-winning campaign with the Pirates.
- Anthony Bender (up from -0.1 to 0.6)—Bender showed enough nastiness during 2021 to merit the projection of an average-ish setup man moving forward. ZiPS thinks he will strike out about one-quarter of the batters he faced this season.
- Jon Berti (down from 1.5 to 0.9)—Rotten BABIP luck plagued Berti throughout the first half of last year, then a serious concussion deprived him of the opportunity to boost his numbers back up to meet expectations. Just days away from his 32nd birthday, the speedy super-utility man could be on the downswing of his career.
- Jazz Chisholm Jr. (up from 0.4 to 1.0)—Chisholm could once again be flirting with a 20 HR/20 SB season, according to ZiPS. It sees his May-October 2021 performance as more representative of his talent than his sensational April was. This is a brighter outlook than the year before, but still leaves him far short of establishing himself as a true cornerstone player.