As odd as it sounds, the Miami Marlins are doing just fine.
Per a story on ESPN.com, despite several key players starting the season slowly, this team is finding ways to score runs, which is something they did not do last season. To take that thought a step further, the lineup is without third baseman Martin Prado and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, but is still proving to be effective.
“Justin Bour isn’t hitting. Martin Prado isn’t playing. Giancarlo Stanton isn’t bashing. Christian Yelich isn’t raking,” writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. “That’s half the Marlins lineup… But in the very small sample size of their first 10 games, the Marlins of 2017 are doing something the Marlins of 2016 didn’t. They’re scoring runs.”
Yes, scoring runs and moving base runners over. This Marlins team seems to have found focus, something it did not have under former hitting coach Barry Bonds. Maybe it’s a new approach by Mike Pagliarulo. Maybe it’s a new season for second baseman Dee Gordon. Whatever the case, its only 11 games into the season, but this Miami team gives manager Don Mattingly and the fans reason for optimism.
On Saturday night, Christian Yelich gave Giancarlo Stanton hit back-to-back homers to cap a three-run eighth Saturday night, and the Miami Marlins rallied past the New York Mets 5-4. Those moments were few and far between last season. Health also plays a role in the success of the middle of this lineup. Stanton also did not come out of the gate swinging a stick last year.
Heading into Saturday, they were averaging five runs per game.
That might not sound like a lot. But only three teams — the Rangers, Nationals and Diamondbacks — were averaging more runs per contest. And it’s a huge improvement over last season’s Marlins, who averaged only four runs per game.
“It was not just one year,” Mattingly said of the run-starved Marlins. “It was the year before, also.”
Add the fact the bullpen as a whole is doing what it was designed to do – support the rotation that does not have a clear No. 1 starter – and this team has already shown plenty of promise.
“We’ve got to keep it up,” Stanton said. “It’s going to be a different hero every night. That’s what we need. That’s what the best teams do. To keep up down the stretch, that’s what you’re going to need.”
The hitting heroes so far have been Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto. They’ve shouldered a big chunk of the offensive load, combining to drive in nearly half (23) of the team’s 50 runs.
It’s been repeated often, but this team needs Stanton’s bat as well as his power. Many have predicted this could be a return to his 2014 form. Yelich is expected to take another step toward stardom and could be an MVP candidate. Ozuna has already flashed power early on. Just those three alone could be the reason this team remains competitive in September.
Add JT Realmuto’s start and half of the hitters in the lineup could have huge years.
“I think we’re seeing a group effort,” Mattingly said. “We’ve tried to put an emphasis on being able to move runners, getting a guy in from third base. Part of that is young guys and growing up and understanding the cat-and-mouse part of hitting with pitchers.”
The table has been set and fans have seen what this team can do. No comes the question of whether the Marlins can sustain their early scoring success over the course of 162 games.