2016 Fantasy Baseball: Miami Marlins Team Preview
2015 Quick Overview
Finishing 71 – 91, the 2015 season wasn’t the kindest of years for the Miami Marlins on either side of the field. Ranking in the bottom fifth of the league in runs scored, home runs, on base percentage, and slugging percentage among others, the Marlins failed to generate a game plan that could consistently win games. The loss of Giancarlo Stanton for a good portion of the season really made the Marlins offense sputter for the year, but youngsters Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich both took large strides to making this a formidable team. Jose Fernandez returned in 2015 following Tommy John surgery and exploded even though he was on an innings limit for the majority of the year. The Marlins entered the 2016 offseason with some key areas of focus specifically in the pitching department that can hopefully propel them for years to come.
2016 Offseason Overview
The 2016 Miami Marlins are caught in the middle of what seems to be an everlasting rebuild both internally to the organization and externally to their very own ballpark. The Marlins are now entering their fifth season in the new ball park and have decided to move the center field fences in 11 feet and lower the height of the walls from 11 feet to 7, which will have immediate impact over the power output of the roster.
While the Marlins are rebuilding the park, however, they paid very little attention to the ball club with only three major additions to their every day roster. None was more important than solidifying more pitching help with the signing of Wei-Yin Chen, and to a lesser extent Edwin Jackson. On the offensive side they signed corner infielder Chris Johnson (formerly from division rival Atlanta Braves) to platoon against left handed pitchers.
Where the Marlins front office did spend a good portion of their time this off-season was around the staff that is going to help this crop of young talent progress. Don Mattingly moves from one warm climate to another leaving the Dodgers as Manager and taking the same position for the Marlins, while the league leader in most career HRs – Barry Bonds – comes in to help bring the bats to life.
Fantasy Impact Bats
It’s easy to name the major impact bat in the Marlins organization. Stanton is arguably one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball let alone on the Marlins ball club. Stanton missed a very large portion of the season last year and still nailed 27 long balls, which puts him in the 40+ homer potential category, great for any fantasy player to kick their draft off with.
Gordon surprised many last season with a .333/.359/.418/.776 line with 58 stolen bases. Gordon has now swiped 122 bags over his last two seasons but has been striking out at an enormous clip, averaging nearly 100 swings and misses over that same span. Yelich has never been a power bat but has shown double-digit homer capacity in the minors despite failing to do so in the first three seasons of his major league career. The movement of the walls should give him a nice boost to his season long numbers, and his ability to hit for average, get on base and swipe bags makes for a solid play.
Keep an eye on Derek Dietrich as a potential break out bat. Despite some personal question marks within the clubhouse Dietrich turned 2015 into a springboard season. Playing more when Stanton went down, Dietrich was able to see more at bats and produce better numbers. He provides eligibility at several positions and should see an increase in opportunity because of it.
Fantasy Impact Pitchers
It’s hard to look at the Marlins 71 – 91 record and not notice that they have one of the best bats and one of the best arms in the game on their roster. Jose Fernandez was a phenom in the minors and in his small stint with the club in 2014 before going down with Tommy John. He came back with limited opportunity as the squad eased him back into the role but he shined immediately, throwing 79 K’s in 64 2/3 innings and notching six victories to only one loss. The bicep strain he suffered last summer may turn out to be an issue in 2016 if the Marlins determine they need to limit his playing time, but when he is on the field he is as close to lights out as they come.
The signing of Wei-Yin Chen is going to help the pitching rotation greatly. In his four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles Chen had a sub 4.10 ERA in all of them, including a sub 3.60 in the last two seasons, no small feat for an AL East pitcher. Coming to the NL East should only increase his ability to get the ball on the ground and keep base paths clear.
The Marlins should see a few youngsters with plenty of potential jump into every day bullpen roles, as Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington should get extended stays in the Majors this season. The Marlins will also have two solid closer types as AJ Ramos and Carter Capps all present. Capps will need to come back from his health issues but presents a ton of upside and could take over the closer duties as soon as he is deemed 100% ready to go.
What’s on the Farm?
For more than two decades the one thing the Marlins have been able to do is build a pretty solid farm system. Players of the past like Hanley Ramireza dn Josh Beckett among others have all come through the ranks and now Yelich, Stanton and several others have all had career long stays within the system. Waiting in the ranks are guys like out fielder Stone Garrett, hard throwing right hander Tyler Kolek and first baseman Josh Naylor, but none are expected to make it to the big leagues this season.
However, several arms may make it to primetime as Kyle Barraclough, Brian Ellington, Kendrys Flores, Ivan Pineyro are all ready to take the next step in their careers. Flores and Pineyro are both starting pitching material with great pitching instincts but will need to continue to develop their pitching repertoire if they are going to be fantasy relevant. Barraclough and Ellington will be hard throwing middle relievers that can come in and help you in leagues that record Holds. Both pitchers recorded a sub 2.90 ERA in 49 combined major league innings last season but need to get their walk rate down if they plan on staying consistent.
By now it’s probably been beaten like a dead horse that Stanton is expected to have yet another masterful year. With the fences coming in a few feet, some of the younger hitters like Yelich, Ozuna, Dietrich, Justin Bour and Gordon among others should all benefit, which will help run production. Fernandez is the one to keep your eye on as the biceps injury from last August is a concern for the stud workhorse, and he could absolutely see a limit to his starts and innings as the season progresses to keep him fresh. With all the name value the Marlins have they are still in a division that will have the Mets and streaking Nationals, which won’t bode well for the Marlins as a whole, but there is plenty of fantasy value on this roster that could provide significance to your fantasy rosters. The Marlins currently have three players on their roster being drafted on average in the first three rounds, which is tied with three other teams for the lead in the league.