Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz looks on as Miami Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano heads to the dugout following a recent home run at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins Shaping Up As Just Bad

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz (18) looks on as Miami Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano heads to the dugout after a solo home run of a recent game at Dodger Stadium. Ruggiano has 11 home runs this season. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2013 Major League season began many of us wondered if A) the Miami Marlins or the Houston Astros would be the worst team in baseball this year; and B) if either the Marlins or the Astros could outdo the 1962 New York Mets and become the worst team of all time. Right now, somewhat to my surprise, the Marlins seem worse than the Astros. But neither club is shaping up as historically bad, meaning that the Mets really did put up a mark that is hard to beat when they finished 40-120 those 51 years ago.

Not even managing those horrible Mets could keep Casey Stengel out of the Hall of Fame. But the Mets did provide fame for Choo-Choo Coleman and Marv Throneberry, among others.

As a friend of mine put it, “It’s really hard to play less than .250 ball.” He’s right. And while we all need to have goals in life, apparently the Marlins and Astros are too good to be that bad. Another friend of mine mentioned the other day that Giancarlo Stanton is the only player he has heard of who is on the Marlins roster. When he said that, I laughed and said, “How many players have you heard of on the Astros?”  I never got a reply on that, maybe because the answer is zero.

Meanwhile, back to the Marlins. As of Thursday, the Marlins’ record was 27-50. In a ballpark–a new ballpark, that that–which seats 37,000, the Marlins average attendance is a bit more than 17,000. Good seats still available–every day. Just the other day a Miami Herald story referred to serious Marlins fans as “an endangered species.”

Just for yuks I looked up the Miami Marlins on Wikipedia. The first line reads, “The Miami Marlins are a professional baseball team based in Miami, Florida.” Notice it did not say “Major League baseball team.” Is that an accident? Maybe not.

Stanton is the most promising player on the Marlins and he missed a big chunk of the season due to injury. Once he returned to the lineup, though, he did some slugging and right now has 7 home runs, 20 runs batted in and is hitting .261. By Marlins standards that practically makes him Hank Aaron.

Unlike my friend (who I think was kidding, but maybe not), I have heard of a few other players on the Marlins. There is old reliable Juan Pierre, Miguel Olivo, Jeff Mathis, Steve Cishek, Casey Kotchman, Placido PolancoKevin Slowey and Ricky Nolasco. This is a pretty scary phrase, but Nolaso is the ace of the pitching staff with a 4-7 record and a 3.68 earned run average. Pierre is the leading hitter with a qualifying number of at-bats at .243.

Justin Ruggiano, a 31-year-old journeyman outfielder, is leading the squad with 11 home runs and 28 runs batted in, plus a .296 average, but doesn’t get as much playing time as it appears he should. His mistake is being successful whenever manager Mike Redmond calls on him.

Recently, Ruggiano vented a little bit of frustration over not playing a bit more considering that he was just about the only guy on the team putting up big-league hitting numbers. “This game can eat you alive because it can be so discouraging,” Ruggiano.

The Marlins may have taken out a patent on discouraging. But unless they rally over the coming months of the season, they are not going to be as bad as the Mets were. And nowhere near as funny, either.

Tags: Miami Marlins

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