Record: 62-100 (Last place in N.L. East)
AVG: Placido Polanco (.260) ERA: Jose Fernandez (2.19)
HR: Giancarlo Stanton (24) Wins: Jose Fernandez (12)
RBI: Giancarlo Stanton (62) Strikeouts: Jose Fernandez (187)
R: Giancarlo Stanton (62) Saves: Steve Cishek (34)
SB: Juan Pierre (23) WHIP: Jose Fernandez (0.979)
What went right?
1. Jose Fernandez: You could make a case that this was the only thing that went right this season for the Miami Marlins. The first pick of the Fish in the 2011 draft, Fernandez was the best pitcher of the staff from start to finish in 2013. His tiny ERA and WHIP along with his strikeout numbers and poise, established the 21-year old righty as one of the young bright stars in the National League. He was rewarded with the National League Rookie of the Year Award this past week, the first Marlins player to win the award since Chris Coghlan in 2009.
2. Chad Qualls: It’s been a rough year when Qualls is something that went right for your ballclub. A year after Qualls was nearly hunted down by Phillies fans everywhere and played for three teams in one season, the right-hander was the Marlins most consistent relief pitcher in 2013. He appeared in 66 games and posted a respectable 2.61 ERA. The Marlins reportedly are hoping to resign him in the offseason since he’s a free agent.
3. Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton is always a positive for the Marlins. He battled injury this season and only played in 116 games, but he still mashed 24 homers and continues to ensure a big pay-day someday for himself, however, probably not from the Marlins. He will get arbitration during the offseason and the Marlins have continued to insist that they are not trading him.
What went wrong?
1. Offense: It was a rough year all-around for the Marlins’ bats. They were last in the league in average (.231), home runs (95), runs (513), on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They score more than 80 runs less than the team just ahead of them, the Chicago White Sox. The Marlins were also shut out 18 times, tops in baseball. If it hadn’t been for decent pitching, the Marlins would have easily had more than 100 losses.
2. Apathetic Fans: No one blames the fans for staying away from the park this season, but it does reflect badly on how the city of Miami views its baseball team. Less than 1.6 million people went to Marlins games this year (last in the league) , more than 500,000 less than the Arizona Diamondbacks drew who were 14th in the league in attendance. This franchise has won two world championships since its inception into the league in 1993. However, the city couldn’t care less. Miami is a city with wealthy people many of which have transplanted to Miami following retirement and have allegiances to other teams. It’s also a city of low-income families who cannot afford attending baseball games, much less a team that lost 100 games. Any city will get behind its team for a season if they play well, but most cities do not lose interest one month into the year.
3. Health: It’s hard to gain any momentum and rhythm when your team battles injuries throughout the entire season. Only one Marlins regular played more than 140 games in 2013 (Adeiny Hechavarria). The Fish used 132 different lineups and 160 when you include pitchers. That means only twice did the Marlins repeat a lineup. Most teams put out the same lineup every night with the exception of the pitcher. Regardless of the talent, or lack thereof, you may have, dealing with that many injuries makes it tough for a team to contend.
Overall Team Performance
Obviously any team that loses 100 games gets a failing grade for their season evaluation. This team never had a chance to compete, especially in a division like the National League East where teams beat up on each throughout the entire season. The team has plenty of young talent though to feel good about. Stanton, Fernandez, and Henderson Alvarez are all solid big league players who will be around for a while. Unfortunately for the Marlins, it will be tough to keep players like Stanton and Fernandez in Miami once they are eligible for free agency.
When you take into account the mixture of youth and veterans, all of whom struggled to stay healthy, the Marlins could have been a lot worse. Yes, 100 losses is terrible, but 110 is far worse.
Winter Meetings Goals
The Marlins have been in the rumor mills a lot this winter so far mostly because they have several players who could be used as trade bait. Logan Morrison, Jacob Turner, Justin Ruggiano have names that have been thrown around. The Marlins reportedly have David Freese as a potential new third baseman for 2014 and Miami has plenty of young pitchers they could trade if they needed.
The Marlins have continued to be adamant that Stanton is not available, but teams will certainly try their best to change the Miami front office’s mind.
The Marlins should really try to upgrade their lineup. It does not matter how good your pitching is (which it wasn’t that great anyway), scoring runs is how you win games and Miami did a terrible job at both of those things in 2013.
Looking Ahead to 2014
This team is not all of a sudden going to be a contender in 2014. There will be growing pains with their young pitchers and a decent number of their position players are in their mid-to-late thirties. The other teams in the East will continue to strive to get better and they frankly have more financial resources than the Marlins do when it comes to free agency. Another last place finish seems likely.