2013 Team Preview: Miami Marlins

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After an offseason filled with turmoil and trades, is there any hope for 2013 in Miami?

Notable Numbers

.344: Giancarlo Stanton's BABIP in 2012. Stanton posted the 21st highest BABIP in the majors (amongst batters with at least 500 plate appearances) which was also reasonably higher than his previous career average of .320. Also concerning is the fact that of the players in the top 25 in BABIP, Stanton had the highest strikeout percentage at 28.5%. In fact, the only players in 2012 with a BABIP of .330 and a K% of 25% were Stanton, Chris Davis, Danny Espinosa, and Chris Johnson. Not exactly the best company to be in. On the positive end, Stanton's K% has decreased from 31.1% in his rookie year. However, if the BABIP sinks while the strikeout percentage remains constant, it might get rough for Stanton.

1.025: Ricky Nolasco's average yearly ERA-FIP differential over the last 4 years. It's fair to say that Nolasco has been maddening since his initial breakout in 2008. By traditional statistics, he's been a disappointment: 49-43 with ERAs of 5.06, 4.51, 4.67, and 4.48. The advanced stats like him more, with 13.0 fWAR and FIPs of 3.35, 3.86, 3.54, and 3.87. Which Nolasco is real? Probably something in between, closer to a 15-10, 4.00 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 2.5 WAR type. Although he might be the best player on Miami not named Stanton, his $11.5M salary, impending free agency, and desire to get out of Miami make Nolasco a likely trade candidate. However, for Miami to get much out of any deal involving him, they'll probably need his traditional stats to reflect what the advanced stats already show.

2012 Season In Review

The 2012 season began with incredibly high expectations. Over a 5-day period, the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell to contracts totaling $191M, and had the 7th highest Opening Day payroll at $118M. Coupled with a brand new stadium, the Marlins seemed poised for contention.

The season started out slow, with Miami in last place on May 1st. However, they rallied, and for one brief moment on June 3rd, the Marlins sat atop the division. From there they proceeded to finish the season 38-70, prompting the start of the mass team shakeup.

At the start of July, former top prospect Matt Dominguez went to Houston for Carlos Lee. At the trade deadline, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez went to Detroit for Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly, Hanley Ramirez went to the Dodgers for prospect Nathan Eovaldi, and Gaby Sanchez went to Pittsburgh for Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick. Finally, to top it off, Ozzie Guillen was fired after the season. And that doesn't even include the offseason...

Key Offseason Moves

Traded Heath Bell to Arizon for Yordy Cabrera: Bell was awful in 2012, with LOB% down, and ERA, FIP, xFIP, and HR/FB% up. Cabrera is viewed with high skepticism by many scouting eyes, so the major benefit of the deal was cutting $10M from the payroll. Little did we know what was to come following that...

Trade Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonafacio, and John Buck to Toronto for Anthony DeSclafani, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jeff Mathis: Many opinions have been given on this trade, so I won't add any more. In the end Miami did get some decent building blocks, but it's still a kick in the guts to fans (And to their 2013 chances)

Signed Juan Pierre to a 1-year, $1.6M contract: On the same day as the blockbuster, the Marlins signed one of the heroes from their 2003 World Series title. That being said, Pierre has had passably decent seasons in two of the last three years. And at $1.6M, it's not a huge investment.

Traded Yunel Escobar to Tampa Bay for Derek Dietrich: Escobar didn't stick around Miami too long, as he was dealt back to the AL East in a move that seemed to be motivated by Escobar's reluctance to move to third base, plus the $5M he would earn. Dietrich has potential, but there are thoughts that the Marlins could have gotten more.

Signed Placido Polanco to a 1-year, $2.75M contract: Polanco has had good years in 2007-2011, but injuries and possibly age hit him hard in 2012. Granted, a .274 BABIP didn't do him any favors, but the Marlins definitely went for a buy-low on Polanco

Depth Chart: There are a lot of new names compared to a year ago. Just two position players return from last year's Opening Day starting lineup, and Morrison won't be back for the opener. The rotation only returns Nolasco from last year's opening five, and closer Steve Cishek will try to anchor the pen after a decent late-season stint as the closer last year.

There's a lot of youth here, with only 6 players older than 30 on the active roster. It's possible that their rotation will have three pitchers born in the '90s: Eovaldi, Alvarez, and Turner. In addition, Adeiny Hechavarria and Rob Brantly, two of Baseball America's top 10 prospects for Miami, are projected to crack them starting lineup.

Check out the Marlins 2013 Depth Chart at MLB Depth Charts

2013 Outlook: 2013 will be a lean year for the Marlins. To a certain extent, they'll get what they paid $38M for. Their main battle this year will be with the Mets to see who avoids the basement. However, if they can convince Stanton to stick around and make a few smart signings (and hold on to the players), they might be able to make some noise starting in 2016.

Check out the Marlins 2013 ZiPS projections at Fangraphs

Bold Prediction: Giancarlo Stanton is the only Marlin with a WAR above 2.5, and finishes in the top 10 of the MVP vote. Stanton has been rising fast, and ZiPS projects him leading the majors in WAR. However, I don't see him joining Andre Dawson by winning the MVP on a (potentially) last-place team. If he was on a winning team, I'd project a top-5 MVP finish. In any event, he should do better in the voting than 2012, when he finished behind Alfonso Soriano (t-20th) in 24th.

As for the rest of the Marlins, ZiPS projects only three other player near 2.5: Ruggiano, Pierre, and Nolasco. I don't entirely trust Ruggiano and Pierre, and I'm not convinced that Nolasco will be in Miami long enough to accumulate 2.5 WAR. So it's entirely reasonable to think that Stanton is the only Marlin to reach 2.5 WAR, which is the midpoint of Fangraphs' "solid starter" range.

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