With the regular season less than a month away for the Miami Marlins, the team is sharpening its skills with spring training games. So far, the Marlins have only managed a record of 4-10-3. Although the spring season has not treated the Fish well so far, the team still has hope thanks to a few key players.
When thinking of the Marlins, people usually think of star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has launched 208 home runs over seven seasons with the Marlins, with highs of 37 in 2012 and 2014. However, the home run hitting machine has not been able to stay healthy. Stanton has only played 193 games over the past two seasons due to knee, groin and face injuries. Stanton is a key player for the Marlins, not only in batting, but in fielding as well. Stanton has a career fielding percentage of .978, while converting a total of 1,672 outs. If Stanton manages to stay healthy, the Fish will surely benefit.
The Marlins are not a one-man-team and have very crucial players elsewhere on the field, including second baseman Dee Gordon and left fielder Christian Yelich. Gordon had a career year in 2015 with a .333 batting average and 205 hits, which ultimately led to a National League Silver Slugger Award for outstanding batting. Gordon was also awarded the National League Gold Glove winner at second base and was named the Wilson Award winner for his fielding position. However, Gordon was suspended 80 games last your for the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs. Gordon claims it was accidental, but, nonetheless, takes full responsibility and is planning to come back where he left off.
Yelich is a rising star in the league and has been getting better ever since his rookie year in 2013. Yelich found his power at the end of last season, hitting 21 home runs, up from seven the year before. He also saw an increase of runs batted in at 98, more than doubling his record from 2015. If Yelich can keep his mojo, the Fish will be in great shape.
The Marlins’ bullpen is also expected to be very good this season, after sending right hand pitchers Luis Castillo and Austin Brice as well as outfield prospect Isaiah White to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right hand pitcher Dan Straily. This is Straily’s fifth team in six seasons, but he has proved himself as a starter on the Reds. He recorded 162 strikeouts, leading to an earned run average of 3.76 in his first year as a starter.
The Fish also have all-star closer AJ Ramos returning for his sixth season. Ramos racked up 40 saves last season while throwing 73 strikeouts. The rotation is also filled with many other great pitchers, such as Tom Koehler and Edinson Volquez.
The Marlins haven’t made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 2003. To say that the team has suffered since then is an understatement. The struggles over the past years has led to significant decrease in the number of fans. Hopefully a successful season can help the Fish regain some.
“It’s been hard watching the Marlins struggle for so long. I have been a fan ever since I was born, but was too young in 2003 when we won the pennant to actually experience a good season for the Marlins. We have such good players this season, I hope we can make a run for the title,” said sophomore Marlin fan Scott Robins.
The 2017 Miami Marlins team has a ton of talent and is expected to make a strong comeback after encountering the loss of star pitcher Jose Fernandez. Fernandez was a leader both on and off the field, and will never be replaced. However, this team is young, talented and has the chemistry to bounce back after a rough 2016.