What do you get when you combine $191 million in free agent signings, toxic clubhouse presences, a new stadium that drips sleaze, and an extremely hateable front office? Why, it's the 2012 Miami Marlins!
If you're new here (which about 90% of our reader base is in comparison to last year), here's a brief explanation: after a team is eliminated from the playoffs, we're going to put their season under a microscope and look at just what the hell went wrong, what went right, and so on and so forth. The goal is to post these the day after a team is eliminated. Also, for the first ten teams eliminated, we're going to post a series called "Hope for the Hopeless", which is going to be an expanded version of the "What Went Right" portion of the Post-Mortem series pieces.
What Went Right: Giancarlo Stanton missed about a month of games, but when he was in the lineup, Stanton was an absolute monster with a near-.600 slugging percentage in the heart of Miami's lineup. Jose Reyes roughly performed as expected, and though his stolen bases are down, you really can't complain about a four win season from a shortstop. Justin Ruggiano came out of nowhere to start in center for the Marlins and provide them with an OPS over .900, but that BABIP over .400 indicates he'll probably hit rock bottom next year. Young catcher Rob Brantly has been awesome since getting called up in August. Josh Johnson has been healthy all year. Miami's bullpen has actually been pretty good overall, thanks to Steve Cishek, Randy Choate, and Ryan Webb.
What Went Wrong: While many will complain about Miami "blowing it all up", all they really dealt with impending free agent Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, and the enigmatic Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez didn't perform nearly as well as he should have, and that necessitated a move. Gaby Sanchez was also awful and dealt at the deadline. Carlos Lee was terrible after being picked up at the beginning of July. Emilio Bonifacio only played in 64 games. Logan Morrison dealt with injuries all year, and wasn't effective at all when he was on the diamond. Mark Buerhle was mediocre all year, and Heath Bell was terrible. The Carlos Zambrano experiment didn't work nearly as well as Miami thought it would.
Most Surprising Player: Justin Ruggiano, who I think is the one of the most surprising players in all of baseball. This is a guy that came into 2012 with six career homers and three career steals in 207 plate appearances. Of course this year, he was 13 homers and 14 steals in 318 plate appearances while posting a .915 OPS and amassing three wins for Miami. And to think, all it cost the Marlins to acquire him from the Astros was minor leaguer Jobduan Morales, who had a .764 OPS at age 21 in low-A….
Most Disappointing Player: God, there are so many. I'll go ahead and choose Logan Morrison. Morrison was always a butcher defensively, but was coming off of a 2011 year where he belted 23 homers and had a near-.800 OPS. Everything fell apart this year due to injuries, and he only homered 11 times with a .707 OPS before getting knee surgery that ended his season. The Marlins still didn't learn their lesson and continued to play him in left field, where he was still an awful defender. Talk about Gaby Sanchez and Chris Coghlan all you want, but Morrison showed more skills and ability than both…and his failures in the majors this year were extremely disappointing.
Prospects Up: Miami's farm system has some gems. Brantly has been extremely impressive since coming over in the Sanchez/Infante trade, and will probably be the Opening Day starter in 2013. Jacob Turner, acquired in the same deal, has looked like a different guy since getting out of the Detroit system. Christian Yelich, a 2010 first round pick, had a .922 OPS with 12 homers and 20 steals in the FSL. 2011 first round pick Jose Fernandez split the season between the Sally League and the FSL, and combined to strike out 158 while walking 35 in 134 innings, turning 20 at the end of April. Marcell Ozuna bashed 21 bombs in the FSL. Ninth overall pick Andrew Heaney struck out 30 in 27 innings, a solid performance after a long college season.
Prospects Down: JT Realmuto probably lost his tag of "catcher of the future" after Brantly's acquisition, and his bat took a step back in 2012. 2009 first round pick Chad James struggled immensely while repeating the FSL.
The Future: You know, despite all of the negative publicity that the Marlins got when trading Sanchez, Infante, and Ramirez this July, I think the moves are going to benefit them in the long run. They got a major league ready franchise catcher in the trades, a few young pitchers that are majors ready and have higher ceilings than some of the other guys they've been rolling out in years, and with the other young talent already in the system, Miami looks like they could really contend in 2014. And when you have a franchise player like Giancarlo Stanton in right field…well, things are going to be entertaining as hell for the fans too.