Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton

2015 season preview: Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins were a very busy team over the course of the winter. They overhauled much of the infield, with three of the five starting positions represented by new faces. They added Mat Latos and Dan Haren to their rotation. They’re getting Giancarlo Stanton back, and Jose Fernandez should rejoin the team sometime this summer. It seems that every few years, after seemingly no glimmer of hope is present, the Marlins go on a run toward a World Series title, before shocking the world and actually pulling it off only to sell off their assets and rebuild the farm. They have a team in place that could certainly be just that, if its upside is realized.

Depth Chart (as of 2/24)
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
1B: Mike Morse
2B: Dee Gordon
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria
3B: Martin Prado
LF: Christian Yelich
CF: Marcell Ozuna
RF: Giancarlo Stanton
SP: Jose Fernandez (DL to start the year)
SP: Henderson Alvarez
SP: Mat Latos
SP: Jarred Cosart
SP: Dan Haren
SP: Tom Koehler
CL: Steve Cishek

Marlins starter Mat Latos

CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 27: Mat Latos #55 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning of the game against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 27, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

New Faces: Tyler Colvin, Aaron Crow, Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, Nick Masset, Michael Morse, David Phelps, Martin Prado, Andre Rienzo, Miguel Rojas, Ichiro Suzuki

Departures: Anthony DeSclafani, Nathan Eovaldi, Rafael Furcal, Kevin Gregg, Chris Hatcher, Andrew Heaney, Kike Hernandez, Dan Jennings, Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Brad Penny

Impact Rookies: It’s difficult to project too many players breaking through, at least early on. The Marlins are pretty set as far as their group of veterans is concerned, especially with their young, high upside pitching now taking the mound for other teams.

Position Battles: There’s a pretty clear cut setup in the field right now for the Marlins. That leaves any remaining position battles for the pitching staff. Brad Hand and David Phelps could be in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation to start the year. Aaron Crow was believed to be in that same mix for a potential fifth spot in the rotation, but he seems destined for a bullpen spot.

Marlins starter Jose Fernandez

SAN DIEGO, CA – MAY 9: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park May 9, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Injury Concerns: Jose Fernandez is expected back at some point in 2015, but the actual timetable is not terribly clear at this point. He could miss the first three months, but if the Marlins are in a playoff race this summer, he’ll be a tremendous addition in July. Mat Latos battled injury and only made 16 starts in 2014. Giancarlo Stanton could be a bit gun shy after taking a pitch to the face last year. He’ll wear a protective guard, but hasn’t faced live pitching since that brutal injury.

Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton

MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 17: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins bats during the seventh inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park on August 17, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Most Important Player: Giancarlo Stanton is the obvious choice here. He’s not only the most important player on the Marlins, he’s also facing some pretty major questions heading into the upcoming season. His performance last year was as good as we’ve seen him, prior to taking that pitch to the face in September. The question is if he can just jump right back into the mix and find success against live pitching without some sort of mental hurdles to overcome. He’ll wear a face protector, but we’ll have to see if that’ll do the job. If he can get back into the swing of things quickly, he’s a National League MVP candidate.

Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton

ATLANTA, GA – JULY 22: Christian Yelich #21 of the Miami Marlins knocks in a run with a fourth inning single against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 22, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

X-Factor: The Marlins need Christian Yelich to take the next step forward as an outfielder, both with the bat and in the field. He had a strong first full season with the Marlins last year, reaching base at a .362 clip. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and his power continues to develop as expected, he’s going to be a weapon for this Marlins team. They’re constantly being touted as one of the best outfields in baseball. The continued development of Yelich should be a big reason as to why.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: Second baseman Dee Gordon #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers forces Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants out at second before throwing to first to complete the double play in the third inning at Dodger Stadium on September 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Key Question: Outside of the health of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins have to prove that the Dee Gordon trade was worth it. They sent over a top quantity like Heaney in order to bring in a legitimate threat at the top of the order, but many were unhappy that they gave up so much for a player that the front office likely overrated. Regardless, Gordon’s skill set should play extremely well at home, with the outfield perfectly set up for him to notch triples for days. He’s a major stolen base threat that will add RBI opportunities for Stanton and the middle of the order. But he has a long way to go before proving that the front office made the right decision.

Marlins outfielders

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 12: Christian Yelich #21 of the Miami Marlins celebrates his solo homkerun with Giancarlo Stanton #27 to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Best Case Scenario: Best case scenario features the Marlins edging out the Washington Nationals for a playoff spot. They utilize their new veterans effectively, and Jose Fernandez comes back and regains his form just in time for the postseason. They do their World Series thing for a third time and promptly sell off the majority of their team.

Worst Case Scenario: Fernandez takes longer than expected to recover from Tommy John surgery, and the addition of multiple veterans doesn’t pan out. Dee Gordon disappoints, Giancarlo Stanton regresses, and Mat Latos continues to struggle to overcome his injury woes. Even worst case scenario, though, could see this team grabbing third in the National League East.

Realistic Prediction: The Marlins are going to be in the mix for a playoff spot. They’re probably just a notch below the Nats for NL East superiority. They should very well be in the mix for one of the wild card spots, provided they can stay healthy and Stanton bounces back. They’ve built up a contender in South Beach, and this team is certainly that on paper.

 

About Randy Holt

Spending his days as an English teacher, Randy spends his afternoons, nights, and weekends as a writer on the Bloguin Network, as well as SB Nation. He is a staff writer for both Puck Drunk Love and The Outside corner, as well as Second City Hockey and Beyond the Box Score on SB Nation, showcasing his love for both hockey and baseball, as well as run-on sentences. A Chicago native (and Phoenix resident), he is an avid Game of Thrones viewer/reader and lover of red meat.

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