Miami Marlins worst MLB offense in 40 Years … and counting

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 15: Manager Don Mattingly #8 of the Miami Marlins talks with bench coach James Rowson against the Philadelphia Phillies at loanDepot park on July 15, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 15: Manager Don Mattingly #8 of the Miami Marlins talks with bench coach James Rowson against the Philadelphia Phillies at loanDepot park on July 15, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Miami Marlins offense has been historically impotent at scoring runs lately, in a way that is the worst MLB has seen in over forty years.

You can’t spell offensive without offense, assuming of course that offense comes courtesy of the Miami Marlins.

As of Monday night, the flailing Fish have gone a staggering sixteen games without scoring more than 3 runs in a game. Sixteen games. That is, well, really hard to do. Historically so. The last time a team went that long without putting at least four runs on the board was 1955. Only three more such games stand between the Marlins and a share of ignominious immortality with the 1942 Cleveland Indians, who went nineteen games without accomplishing the feat of being at least league average at the plate.

However, that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Sitting at sixteen, the Miami Marlins just passed the 1979 Chicago Cubs for scoring futility. So before moving on to 1955, or heaven forbid 1942, I was really curious to look at what kind of competition those 1979 Cubs faced. What kind of circumstances that team had to deal with. Did they too lose their All-Star second baseman? Did they face a murderer’s row of pitching, or were they also just really bad at the whole hitting thing? Were they even any good? In short, seeing how they stacked up against this Miami team.

Well, if you were reading this hoping the 1979 Cubs would make you feel better about the 2022 Marlins…you’re going to be disappointed.

First off, they actually weren’t that bad, finishing the season at 80-82. They also had a future Hall of Famer on the roster in Bruce Sutter, and more importantly since we’re talking offense, the 1979 MLB home run leader in Dave Kingman. Kingman hit 48 HRs for that team. The ’22 Marlins will be lucky if one player hits 20. And before you ask, Kingman was healthy and playing during the scoring drought. So at least Cubs fans got to watch Kingman. Cubs fans, and a growing number of everyday baseball fans. The 1979 season happened to be the first Cubs season to be be nationally broadcast, which is weird to think about since most anyone reading this probably can’t remember the Cubs not being nationally broadcast.

As for the competition they faced, it actually was pretty tough sledding. Twelve of the fifteen games were against clubs with winning records, including the 1979 world champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Almost as good were the 1979 Montreal Expos, who boasted a lineup that featured Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, and sometimes even the great Tommy Hutton. Only three games against the bottom-feeding 63-99 New York Mets ranked as inferior competition, and it was against those lowly Mets that the Cubs streak ended.

Of course, a lot can go into wins and losses- it’s not the best measurement. So l also looked at the starting pitching those ’79 Cubs faced. Particularly their ERA’s going into the game, and their season long WAR. If you take the average of the fifteen starting pitchers Chicago faced in that stretch, the result is a 3.11 ERA. None of them had an individual ERA over 3.91, and five of them tossed complete games. That’s pretty good. If you were to tally up the season WAR totals of all those pitchers, you end up with a 32.7 WAR total. If you prefer WPA, that comes out to 3.15 worth of value. Adding on, one of those arms was a former league ERA leader, and another won a Cy Young.

As for the 2022 Marlins? Much less pretty. Only nine of the fifteen games were against winning teams. Their starting pitchers faced average out to an ERA of 4.31, with seven of them sporting individual ERAs over 4.00 on the year. Their combined 2022 WAR tallies to measly 16.4 mark, with only 2.35 worth of WPA to show for it. Sure, 2022 Hunter Greene of the 5.26 ERA sports a fastball better than anything a 1970’s Cy Young Winner was throwing, and most every team gets a pass for struggling against Zack Wheeler. Still, it’s impossible to conclude Miami didn’t have a much easier time over the past few weeks than those ’79 Cubs did.

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Which, unfortunately, makes it pretty easy to conclude that for what is now a sixteen game sample size and counting…the Miami Marlins are the worst offense MLB fans have seen in well over forty years.