The Marlins are the hottest team in baseball! It is the feelgood story of the early season, assuming you can be willfully ignorant of the prominent involvement of Jeffrey Loria and his acolyte David Samson. They are a team brimming with young talent and look as if they might be ready to have that talent come together to be competitive years ahead of schedule.
Or maybe not.
As fun as it might be to see Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez lead the charge out of the basement for the Fish, their strong 5-2 start needs to be put in context. Yes, Miami is winning, but they may not be world beaters just yet. Right now they are just bad NL West team beaters as their first seven games have come at home against the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres. These are teams that lost 88 and 86 games last season, respectively. They are also both teams that were absolutely dreadful on the road in 2013, going 29-52 and 31-50, respectively.
While the Marlins are coming off a 100-loss season of their own and thus them winning any game should not be taken lightly, the degree of difficulty has not been very high. Now, with the Fish heading out on the road to take on a real-life contender in the Washington Nationals we should get some kind of indication as to whether or not they are really ready to make the jump to respectability, much less challenge the Nats and Braves for the NL East title as they have in the first week of the season.
In the Marlins’ favor, they have beaten the Rockies and Padres soundly and currently boast a +21 run differential. Considering all the trouble the Fish had scoring runs last season, that is a major improvement for them. A lot of those runs have come via the bat of Casey McGehee (205 OPS+), though and it remains to be seen if he is really that good as he was a replacement level player before being banished to Japan for the 2013 season. Given that, their offense really could come crashing back down to earth, though maybe not the subterranean levels that it operated at in 2013.
Nobody likes having terrible teams in baseball, so let’s all hope that the Marlins are improving and can compete at a level above being the National League doormat. But let’s give them a little bit more time before we buy into their dark horse contender status.