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2017 Miami Marlins Team Outlook

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Shawn Childs provides a team preview of the 2017 Miami Marlins!

Miami Marlins

The Marlins have finished under .500 in each of their last seven seasons while failing to make the playoff for the 13th straight year. Miami has two appearances in the postseason in their 24-year history with both resulting in World Series titles.

Last year they scored 42 runs more than 2015 (655) with four more runs allowed by their pitching staff.

Their franchise will never replace the electric arm of SP Jose Fernandez who passed away late last season due to a boating accident. The Marlins only lost a few low-level players to free agency in the offseason – C Jeff Mathis, SP Andrew Cashner, RP Mike Dunn, and CL Fernando Rodney. Miami signed SP Jeff Locke, SP Edinson Volquez, RP Dustin McGowan, C A.J. Ellis, RP Junichi Tazawa, and RP Brad Ziegler. All of these players offer no real impact. They traded OF Isaiah White and SP Luis Castillo to the Reds for SP Dan Straily. The only other player added with RP Severino Gonzalez in a minor deal with the Phillies.

Miami finished 13th in the NL in runs scored (655) and 14th in HRs (128). Their pitching staff ranked 6th in the league in ERA (4.05). The Marlins had the 14th best bullpen in ERA (3.63) in the majors with 32 wins, 29 losses, and 55 saves.

Their success on offense will hinge on a bounce back season by Giancarlo Stanton. The rest of the starting lineup is the same cast of characters for 2015.

The starting rotation has a huge hole at SP1 with plenty of weakness and question marks at the back end of the rotation. The bullpen will have new options in setup roles with a wild upside arm pitching in the 9th.

The lack of starting pitching will lead to another subpar season.

1. 2B Dee Gordon

Gordon came out flat in April (.266 with no HRs, five RBI, and six SBs over 94 at bats) before being suspended for 80 games for JUICING up his swing with some sort of testosterone. Over the last 2+ months of the season, Dee hit .267 with 30 runs, one HR, nine RBI, and 23 SBs over 232 at bats. His only HR came in his first at bats after the death of Jose Fernandez, which led to an emotional month moment. His K rate (15.9) was about his career average with a slight uptick in his short walk rate (5.2). The difference in strength from 2015 to 2016 could be shown in the range of his CTBA (2015 – .391 and 2016 - .322). His swing path produced a high volume of ground balls (58.7) with a weak HR/FB rate (1.7 in 2016 and 2.6 in his career). Pure Judy hitter with impact speed. If healthy, 60+ bags are a reasonable expectation with even more upside with more chances at first base. I view his batting average closer to .280 than his breakout year in 2015 (.333). I don’t believe he’s worthy of being a foundation part of a winning Fantasy team with his high ADP (49).

2. 3B Martin Prado

The lack of power and speed by Prado really kills his Fantasy value due to him only qualifying at 3B. His batting average had been an asset in every season in the majors except 2011 (.260) thanks to a low K rate (10.5). Martin has taken a few more walks (7.5 percent) over the last two seasons. His CTBA (.345) has improved slightly in three straight seasons, but his AVH (1.366) has faded in the last three years. Prado was one of the best hitters in the game in 2016 vs. lefties (.424), but he only had one HR over 125 at bats. His best success came over three months from June through August (.319 with 44 runs, seven HRs and 46 RBI over 317 at bats). His bat would be playable with the same success over a full season. Martin had his lowest HR/FB rate (5.4) since 2009 while continuing to be a ground ball hitter (47.5). Prado tends to be a good hitter with runners on base while being limited to his opportunities. One category player (batting average) with below league average value in the other four categories.

3. OF Christian Yelich

With Barry Bonds as his hitting coach, Yelich was much improved as a power hitter and RBI man. He had a nice step forward in his AVH (1.622) while maintaining a high CTBA (.391). Both his K rate (20.9) and walk rate (10.9) fell in range with his career averages. The bump is HRs suggests a change in swing path, but Christian is still a high-volume ground ball hitter (56.5). He did shave off six percentage points off his previous resume (2013 – 63.2, 2014 – 61.0, and 2015 – 62.5). The rise in HRs was due to his HR/FB rate (23.6) nearly doubling from his last two years (2014 – 11.5 and 2015 – 12.5). His swing had the most value against RH pitching (.301 with 19 HRs and 73 RBI over 428 at bats) with a nice floor vs. lefties (.287). Over the last three months of the season, Yelich hit .287 with 15 HRs, 60 RBI, and five SBs over 314 at bats. Upside talent with power when he gets the ball in the air. His swing path still isn’t where it needs to be to be counted on for 20+ home runs. Based on his minor-league resume (.311 with 37 HRs, 168 RBI, and 60 SBs over 1169 at bats), Christian should offer more upside in speed. Getting closer to an impact player with a potential 20/20 skill set with upside in batting average. His high RBI total was partly due to a high volume of chances (453). There’s a lot to like here with more improvement in his FB rate (20.0). His second half finish points to high upside in the near future.

4. OF Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton looked to be on a path for an impact season after his start in April (.253 with eight HRs and 19 RBI over 79 at bats). He lost his confidence in May leading to 31 Ks over 75 at bats (35.2) and empty production (.173 with four HRs and seven RBI). Giancarlo suffered an oblique issue late May leading to a missed week of action. After another down month in June (.231 with three HRs and 14 RBI over 91 at bats), he started to come into form in July (.305 with seven HRs and 20 RBI over 95 at bats). In August, Stanton battled a hip issue while landing on the DL with a groin injury that was expected to cost him the rest of the season. He was able to make it back in mid-September (.188 with two HRs and four RBI) over 32 at bats) while rarely playing a full game. Giancarlo played better against lefties (.273 with seven HRs and 17 RBI over 88 at bats). His K rate (29.8) was above his career average (28.5) for the second straight year with regression in his walk rate (10.6). Stanton hit fewer line drives (16.7), which part of the reason for the fade in his batting average. His HR/FB rate (22.7) was his second lower rate of his career while finishing over 21 percent for the seventh straight year. One of the best power hitters in the game with 50+ HR upside. His batting average will have risk if his CTBA (.363 in 2016) falls below .400 (.425 in 2012 and 2014 in 2014). Last year he had a knee issue in spring training, which may have been the reason he didn’t attempt a steal all year. Possible .270 with 40+ HRs and 100 RBI. Solid value as third round pick in 15 team leagues (ADP of 40 in the early draft season).

5. OF Marcell Ozuna

Last season Ozuna was a target of mind in the high stakes drafts. After a slow start in April (.229 with three HRs and 10 RBI over 83 at bats), Marcell played at a high level for two months (.348 with 13 HRs and 34 RBI over 2014 at bats) highlighted by a great May (.411 with 46 hits, seven HRs and 17 RBI over 112 at bats). His swing lost all value after the All-Star break (.209 with six HRs and 29 RBI over 234 at bats) while battling a wrist injury in early September. His K rate (18.9) was a career best with growth in his walk rate (7.1). He has a step up in his AVH (1.703), which supports a 25 HR season. Ozuna hit for more power against LH pitching (.289 with 10 HRs and 18 RBI over 121 at bats). His swing path was improved leading to fewer ground balls (43.9) and more fly ball (36.5). His HR/FB rate (14.1) was below his best season in 2014 (16.8). Pretty much a .270 hitter with a 30/90 skill set with a healthy season.

6. 1B Justin Bour

After his first season of value in the majors, Justin only managed about a half season of at bats due to a bad left ankle sprain. Over the first three months, he hit .269 with 15 HRs and 46 RBI while setting down on most nights against lefties (7-for-30 on the year with two RBI and 12 Ks). After spending 2+ months on the DL, Justin turned in an empty September (.254 with no HRs and five RBI over 67 at bats). His K rate (17.5) showed growth with a nice uptick in his walk rate (11.8). Bour had a high HR/FB rate (19.2) in his last two seasons with a better swing path leading to fewer ground balls (43.8 percent) in 2016. Over eight seasons in the minors, he hit .277 with 93 HRs, 463 HRs, and 14 SBs over 2491 at bats. His AVH (1.797) would point to 30+ home runs if Justin were ever able to get 550 at bats, which seems unlikely due to his minimal role vs. LH pitching. Something like .280 with 25+ HRs and 80+ RBI with 450 at bats seems fair with short run total.

7. C J.T. Realmuto

J.T. gave the appearance of making a step forward in 2016 based on his batting average (.303). His production was short in April (two HRs and six RBI), May (no HRs and seven RBI), July (one HR and six RBI), and August (two HRs and RBI). Realmuto hit over .270 in each month with his best value coming in September (four HRs and 13 RBI). He struggled vs. lefties (.215 with two HRs and five RBI over 93 at bats). His swing was very good vs. RH pitching (.322 with nine HRs and 43 RBI over 416 at bats). His K rate (18.4) drifted backwards with minimal growth in his walk rate (5.1). Even with a bump in his HR/FB rate (8.8), J.T. has a rising ground ball rate (49.3 – 44.8 in 2015). Over six years in the minors, he hit .268 with 33 HRs, 200 RBI, and 54 SBs over 1590 at bats. His success in CTBA (.377) may not be repeatable based on his recent seasons while his AVH (1.416) is fading. I like the speed from the catcher position, which will be an edge. Slight edge in runs with double power and 50+ RBI with a neutral batting average.

8. SS Adeiny Hechavarria

Over five years in the majors, Adeiny has never hit more than five HRs in a season or drove in more than 50 runs. His speed went from boring to one SB in 2016. He had growth in his K rate (13.4) with a career high walk rate (6.0). Over his last 341 at bats, Hechavarria didn’t have a HR with only 13 RBI over his last 244 at bats. He had no value against lefties (.207 with one HR and 10 RBI). Adeiny had career low ground ball rate (47.8) with a slight rise in his FB rate (30.0). His HR/FB rate (2.3) offer no real upside. Low level bat with no Fantasy value in any format.

Bench Options

C A.J. Ellis – Over nine years in the majors, Ellis hit .239 with 37 HRs and 200 RBI over 1654 at bats. His bat has faded over the last three seasons (.211 with 12 HRs and 68 RBI over 635 at bats). Part time player with minimal upside.

2B Derek Dietrich – With Gordon out the lineup for 80 games, Dietrich was given a chance to start every day for the Marlins. He hit the ball well over 173 at bats (.306) with short production (one HR and 14 RBI). He struggled in July (.171 with one HR and five RBI over 70 at bats). As a part-time player over the last two months of the season, Derek hit .319 with three HRs and 111 RBI over 72 at bats. His swing had starting value against RH pitching (.297 with seven HRs and 36 RBI over 286 at bats) with no value against lefties (.200 with no HRs and six RBI over 65 at bats). Replacement value if asked to start and his minor-league resume (.276 with 65 HRs, 259 RBI, and 15 SBs over 1690 at bats) suggest 20+ HRs upside.

IF Miguel Rojas – In his three seasons in the majors, Rojas hit .237 with three HRs and 40 RBI over 485 at bats. He’ll compete for a backup role on Miami in 2017.

OF Ichiro Suzuki – The injury to Giancarlo Stanton allowed Ichiro to get better than expected at bats in 2016. This led to him reaching 3000 hits (3030). His swing produced only three HRs, 65 RBI, and 36 SBs over 1084 at bats. Hall of Famer running on fumes with no playable value.

OF Destin Hood – Over nine years in the minors, Hood hit .268 with 66 HRs, 475 RBI, and 74 SBs over 3262 at bats. His K rate (22.5) is above the league average with a just below league average walk rate (7.1). Long path to the majors gives him a minimal chance of getting at bats off the bench.

1. SP Adam Conley

Conley flashed upside in 2016 in between bouts with his command. Over his first eight starts, he had a 3.40 ERA with 43 Ks over 42.1 innings. He had three disaster starts over his next eight outings pushing his ERA to 3.90 by the end of June. His arm was impressive over his next six starts (1.60 ERA with 31 Ks over 33.2 innings). Conley lost his command in August (14 walks over 13 innings) leading to three disaster starts (9.00 ERA). His struggles were tied a finger injury on his pitching hand that resulted in only one more appearance over the last six weeks of the season. His walk rate (4.2) was well below winning value with a strikeout rate (8.4) with more upside when he throws more strikes. Adam struggled to get lefties out (.298) with a poor strikeout to walk ratio (1.38). His AFB (92.0) was slightly improved over his rookie season with batters hitting .289 against it. He had a high level of success with his slider (.167 BAA) and changeup (.197 BAA). Over five seasons in the minors, Conley had a 34-21 record with a 3.52 ERA and 397 Ks over 439.2 innings. His walk rate (3.0) wasn’t great, but it was well above his 2016 season. Tons of pressure on him to replace Jose Fernandez as the ace of the staff. Next step: sub 3.50 ERA with some WHIP risk until he improves his command and approach to LH batters. Locating his fastball will be his ticket to the next level.

USA Today

2. SP Wei-Yin Chen

Chen had his worst season (4.96 ERA) in his five-year major league career in 2016. His walk rate (1.8) and K rate (7.3) was in line with his previous success, but he was easier to hit (.276) with struggles with HRs (22 over 123.1 innings) especially to RH batters (21 over 406 at bats). Lefties hit him hard (.325). Wei-Yen had an ERA over 4.25 for each month that he pitched. In June and July, he allowed 12 HRs over 50.1 innings. In late July, Chen went on the DL with a sprained left elbow. After two months on the DL, he made three mediocre starts over the last three weeks in September (5.73 ERA). His AFB (91.1) was one mph lower than 2015 (92.7). His curveball (.171 BAA) and changeup (.236 BAA) held value with his downside tied to a fading sinker (.423 BAA) and weak slider (.284 BAA). Solid command with limited value in Ks. I can’t trust him coming off an elbow injury that didn’t have surgery. Buyer beware.

3. SP Edinson Volquez

Volquez lost his value in 2016 after pitching well over the two previous seasons (2014 – 3.04 ERA and 2015 – 3.55 ERA). His walk rate (3.6) regressed with a short K rate (6.6). For the second time in his career, he allowed the most runs (113) in the league. Batters hit .286 against him with no success against RH (.288) or LH (.284) batters. Over his first 11 starts, Edinson had a 3.74 ERA with 54 Ks over 67.1 innings. On June 24th, he allowed 11 runs and 11 base runners over one inning leading to his struggles over the last four months of the season (6.27 ERA). His K rate declined in each month of the season. His AFB (94.2) was in range of his last three seasons. Batters crushed his sinker (.322 BAA and .522 SLG). His changeup (.215 BAA) was still tough to hit while his curveball (.265 BAA) had a huge step back. Volquez still induces a high level of ground balls (51.2 percent) with fade in his HR/FB rate (12.8). His fastball still has enough velocity to rebound while offering a plus change and a curveball that graded highly in 2014 (.184 BAA) and 2015 (.212 BAA). The move to the NL should help his value. The bottom line here is his command. Only a flier with plenty of WHIP risk.

4. SP Dan Straily

Straily threw the ball well with the A’s in 2013 (3.96 ERA), but he failed to earn a starting job in the majors in 2014 and 2015 with losing results at AAA (2014 – 4.62 ERA and 2015 – 4.77 ERA). Dan revived his career with the Reds in 2016 (3.76 ERA). His walk rate (3.4) still has risk with no edge in his K rate (7.6). Straily had strength against lefties (.191), but he issued 46 of his 73 walks. His only bad month came in June (6.43 ERA). After the All-Star break, Dan went 10-2 with a 3.10 ERA with 82 Ks over 90 innings. His walk rate improved to 2.8. He’s a fly ball pitcher (48.0 percent) with some risk in his HR/FB rate (12.0). His AFB (90.0) is well below league average. Straily had a plus slider (.176 BAA) and curveball (.130 BAA) with strength in his changeup (.219 BAA). He just needs better command of his four-seam fastball (.262 and 16 HRs allowed over 275 at bats) within the strike zone. His walk rate scares me, but his secondary stuff played well. Late gamble while understanding the pitfalls of his arm.

5. SP David Phelps

Phelps had his best season of his career after being pushed to the bullpen in 2016. He was much tougher to hit .197 with his biggest edge coming against RH batters (.172). His walk rate (3.9) was the worst of his career while having a huge step forward in his K rate (11.8). He issued 27 of his 38 walks to lefties while doing an excellent job getting them out (.230). When asked to start in August, David went 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA while maintaining his high K rate (11.9). He even had improvement in his walk rate (2.9). His failure in command came in July when Phelps walked ten batters over 12.1 innings. He did a much better job keeping the ball on the ground (46.2 percent) while his FB rate (33.3) is trending lower (career low). His AVB (94.6) jumped by more than three mph from his previous resume. Normally a pitcher will have more velocity after the shift to the bullpen. His fastball came in at 94.3 in August when asked to start, but he averaged under five innings in each game. Batters struggled to hit all four of his pitches (four-seam fastball – .160 BAA, sinker – .173 BAA, cutter - .222 BAA, and curveball – .216 BAA). His improved success was clearly tied to the jump in velocity giving his pitches more life in the strike zone. In his career, David has 4.21 ERA as a starter and a 3.30 ERA in relief. The Marlins added some arms to the bullpen suggesting Phelps will be moved into the starting rotation. The key here is his command along with repeated success with the speed on his pitches. Intriguing flier, but his success in 2016 doesn’t equal edge starter in 2017 without a huge step forward in his walk rate. For the record, his first strike rate (55.7) was the worst of his career.

6. SP Tom Koehler

The Marlins have given Koehler four seasons to prove his worth as a starting pitching. His arm has regressed in back-to-back seasons due to his fading walk rate (4.2 – career high). Tom is only league average against righties (.263) and lefties (.259). Over the first three months of the season, he had a 4.45 ERA with 73 Ks over 87 innings. In May, Koehler walked 24 batters over 34 innings (6.4 per nine). He threw the ball well over 11 starts in July and August (3.43 ERA) with improvement in his command (2.4 walks per nine). Tom turned in a disaster September (6.08 ERA with 19 walks and seven HRs allowed over 26.2 innings). It was interesting to see him allow more HRs in each month pitched (April – 1, May – 2, June – 3, July – 4, August – 5, and September – 7). His AFB (91.9) was career low with two years of regression. His slider (.203 BAA) and curveball (.236 BAA) still grade well. Tom only threw 137 sinkers with batters hitting .517 with five HRs (1.069 SLG). Also, his four-seam fastball was a liability (.295 with 13 HRs allowed). A pitcher can’t have success in the majors without throwing strikes. Koehler looks to have pitched his way out of a starting opportunity, so he’ll need an injury to get another dance. Inning eater with some value in Ks while offering plenty of WHIP risk.

7. SP Jeff Locke

Locke threw the ball well for the Pirates in 2013 (3.52 ERA) and 2014 (3.91 ERA), but his arm has faded badly over the last two seasons (4.49 ERA and 5.44 ERA). Last season he was easier to hit (.298 BAA) with losing value against righties (.305 BAA) and lefties (.282). He allowed more HRs (17 over 127.1 innings) with weak K rate (5.2) and poor walk rate (3.1). Jeff didn’t do anything well. Locke had an ERA over 5.00 in every month except May (3.98 ERA with only 18 Ks over 40.2 innings). He has a rising FB rate (32.4) and a declining GB rate (47.2). Surprisingly, his AFB (92.2) was a career high. Jeff had lost value on every pitch except his changeup (.248 BAA). Low upside arm with more risk than reward. Lefties tend to have nine lives so he may rebound enough where he’ll offer short-term value in a double start week if given another chance in the rotation.

CL A.J. Ramos

Ramos appeared to improve after walking a career low 3.3 batters per nine in 2015, but he lost his thought process last year. His walk rate (4.9) was much too high for a pitcher pitching in the ninth plus A.J. was easier to hit (.223 BAA) compared to 2014 (.164) and 2015 (.184). Over the first three months of the season, Ramos had 1.74 ERA with 24 saves and 38 Ks over 31 innings (18 walks). A finger injury led to disaster run in July and August (6.05 ERA and 1.603 WHIP) and a trip to the DL. He threw the ball better in September (0.66 ERA with 14 Ks over 13.2 innings) with continued failure in his walk rate (4.6 per nine). Batters were able to square up on more balls leading to a career high line drive rate (25.9). His AFB (92.9) was a step back from 2015 (93.6) while being easier to hit (four-seam – .274 BAA and sinker – .375 BAA). Batters struggled to make contact with his changeup (.088 BAA) with a high level of success with his slider (.208 BAA) as well. Live arm with some downside risk with repeated failure with his strike throwing ability. Real tough for me to commit to him as command issues lead to job loss risk.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

RP Brad Ziegler

Over the last two seasons, Brad has 52 saves. His arm doesn’t match up to being an elite option in the 9th. His walk rate (3.4) was his highest rate since 2010 (4.2) with a bounce back in his K rate (7.7). His AFB (84.7) is one of the weakest in the majors. He didn’t have success with either his sinker (.290 BAA) or changeup (.283 BAA) while his slider (.133 BAA) was his out pitch. Brad walked more lefties than he struck out (16 to 15). Over the last four months of the season, Ziegler had a 1.70 ERA with 45 Ks over 47.2 innings. Closing resume, but Brad doesn’t belong in the 9th inning.

RP Kyle Barraclough

Barraclough would make sense as the next closing option behind Ramos, but he has a weaker walk rate (5.4). Over five years in the minors, Kyle had a 2.70 ERA with 28 saves and 185 Ks over 146.2 innings. He walked 4.9 batters per nine with strength in his K rate (11.4). His AFB (96.5) in the majors was elite. Batters only hit .110 vs. his slider, which led to 90 Ks. Barraclough needs better command of his four-seam fastball (.250 BAA). He issued 26 of his 44 walks to lefties over 125 at bats. After struggling in May (4.09 ERA) and June (4.15 ERA), Kyle was a much-improved pitcher over the last three months of the season (2.63 ERA with 57 Ks over 41 innings). His walk rate over this period was 4.4. Electric arm with much more upside when he figures out how to throw strikes. Player to watch early in 2017 just in case A.J. Ramos trips up.

References

Baseball America Prospect Handbook. (n.d.).

Baseball-Reference. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Brooksbaseball.net. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.brooksbaseball.net/

Fangraphs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fangraphs.com/

Roster Resource. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rosterresource.com/mlb

Rotowire. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rotowire.com/

RotoWorld. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rotoworld.com/

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