The Miami Marlins have gotten off to a scorching 3-1 start to the 2014 season. Today, they picked up their third victory against the Colorado Rockies led by a potent offense which was projected to be their Achilles’ Heel going in to the season. Giancarlo Stanton has been on a tear as expected. The complementary pieces which people did not have high hopes for have coherently been tremendous. Guys like Marcell Ozuna, Casey McGehee, and Adeiny Hechavarria have stepped up big time taking pressure off the perennial slugger, Giancarlo Stanton.
The latter of the three “complementary players” has been the most surprising. Hechavarria had an abysmal 2013 season, mustering a .227/.267/.298 slash line and a league worse -1.9 Fangraphs WAR.
Defense metrics do not do Hechavarria justice. They appoint a negative value on the defensive spectrum; thus negating his terrific defensive skills. He is sound defensively and has a ton of range. Anyone who watched Miami Marlins games last season (even if there were not many) were delighted and awed by his flashy glove at shortstop. His defense will improve with age and a Gold Glove in the future does not seem insurmountable.
Offense is a blatant deficiency in his game despite an explosive .500/.467/.571 clip to commence the season. He never displayed much offensive prowess in the minors. That being said, he has flashed the ability to hit for power and get on-base more. In 2012 while in Triple-A, he compiled a solid .312/.363/.424 slash. The Marlins would be thrilled if they got something close to that potency from his bat. It seems like a stretch with Hechavarria struggling offensively at every other level. Offense will always be something left desired, albeit his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) at .270 was low and unsustainable. His approach at the plate has been refined, so improvement should be expected.
Overall, Miami is going to need Hechavarria’s defense to persist and offense to improve if they yearn to shock the world. He has been a key piece to their early success and will be crucial as the season continues.