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Checking up on the Marlins

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With all of the trades and roster moves the Florida Marlins made this past offseason, it was expected that they would struggle mightily all season, possibly even as the worst team in baseball. Luckily for Florida, Kansas City still exists, and the Fish lineup actually has not been too shabby thus far. The bullpen is a completely different story, and Dontrelle Willis has struggled in the rotation (not as of late however), but at least they probably don't miss Josh Beckett.

I want to use this space to do a position-by-position run down of the Marlins lineup so far. Thanks to the revamped positionally adjusted Net Runs Above Average, this should not be too much of a problem. Remember, pNRAA is in a per 150 game rate form, and pNRAA/GP is the cumulative total so far.

Catcher
Miguel Olivo: .259/.294/.452; +0.23 pNRAA; +0.06 pNRAA/GP
Matt Treanor: .234/.310/.297; -13.73 pNRAA; -2.38 pNRAA/GP

Matt Treanor obviously has not been the answer behind the plate, but Miguel Olivo has been basically league average. This is great for the Marlins simply because they can move Willingham somewhere else on the field without having to worry about him catching everyday, and they don't even lose anything production wise. Olivo isn't exactly playing over his head or anything, so this should be sustainable.

By the way, catcher is the only position where I used Rate2 rather than Zone Rating for defensive purposes.

First Base
Mike Jacobs: .236/.337/.420; -3.81 pNRAA; -1.25 pNRAA/GP

I thought that Mike Jacobs would have a little more punch in his bat for Florida this year, but so far I've been wrong. He has not done that bad defensively though, as he is only about a run below average at first so far with the glove. Considering his defense has always been an issue in the past, that was a large concern. Of course, we can consider this a part of the problem:

  • L/R Splits
  • Vs. LHP: .114/.204/.205, 44 AB
  • Vs. RHP: .277/.379/.492, 174 AB
If Wes Helms was hitting at all, Mike Jacobs would be platooned more effectively. Obviously Helms is affected by small sample size, but his numbers are quite poor so far. Can anyone tell me how he actually looks at the plate? Considering the platoon disadvantage so far, Jacobs isn't performing half-bad for the Marlins at first.

Second Base
Dan Uggla: .303/.354/.459; +5.99 pNRAA; +2.20 pNRAA/GP

His PECOTA projection (.237/.296/.371) was less than inspiring, but he has made an impact so far in the Marlins lineup. He is currently third on the roster in VORP, with 16.9, behind only Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. He does have a .335 BABIP so far, well out of line with the .296 derived from the little trick Studes mentioned in my Casey Blake piece (BABIP = LD% + .12), so you can most likely expect regression. So far, so good though.

Third Base
Miguel Cabrera: .356/.444/.605; +51.72 pNRAA; +18.97 pNRAA/GP

What scares me most about Miguel Cabrera is that he is actually the worst defensive third basemen in the league as of today according to ZRate. He's roughly 2 runs worse than Tony Batista, coming in at -11.26 so far. Somehow, he is still over 50 runs above average overall. That seems wrong, but then I look and see he has a .352 EqA. Basically, the kid can hit. A lot. The Marlins would be stupid to trade him as has been rumored, although I still think they should move Willis at some point.

Shortstop
Hanley Ramirez: .304/.371/.469; +16.83 pNRAA; +5.84 pNRAA/GP

Hanley has certainly surpassed all expectations so far in his rookie campaign, especially considering his .271/.335/.385 line for Double-A Portland in 2005. His PECOTA projection augured a performance much worse than this (.258/.313/.367), but apparently PECOTA was reading the sacrifices incorrectly. His BABIP is currently .387 (neat trick says it should be .375), but his LD% is 25.5%, which seems highly unsustainable considering 2005's league average was 15%. PECOTA may still be correct about Ramirez, but it also might need to hone its entrail reading skills. I think my vote goes somewhere in between; the projection is far too brutal, but that BABIP has me worried.

Left Field
Josh Willingham: .267/.353/.461; +4.71 pNRAA; +1.63 pNRAA/GP

Willingham has hit well so far, but his defense leaves something to be desired -- -5.09 ZRate so far -- placing him only a few runs above average. If anything he might improve some more as a hitter simply by playing in the majors, but his defense is the real problem at present. He sure as hell beats throwing Eric Reed out there again though.

Center Field
Reggie Abercrombie: .231/.287/.363; -19.60 pNRAA; -5.75 pNRAA/GP

There is no one else to take this job? Seriously? He plays very good defense (+6.09 ZRate so far) but his bat more than makes up for that progress. By the way, Zone Rating thinks he is very good defensively, and Rate thinks he is Manny Ramirez. If Rate happens to be correct, then Abercrombie is one of the worst everyday players in the game.

Right Field
Chris Aguila: .229/.297/.337; -22.80 pNRAA; -5.32 pNRAA/GP
Joe Borchard: .256/.363/.410; -6.42 pNRAA; -1.20 pNRAA/GP
Jeremy Hermida: .286/.394/.482; +16.72 pNRAA; +2.01 pNRAA/GP

Now that Jeremy Hermida is back, right field is a position of strength for the Marlins. He's hit .306/.375/.583 since returning from injury on May 22. I really have nothing to add to this, besides "Hermida can really hit".

If not for the mess in center with Reggie Abercrombie, Florida would have average-to-above-average players at 6 of the 8 positions, and 7 of 8 if you want to blame Jacobs struggles on the ineffective platoon. They should probably be trying their hardest to fix that situation out there by seeing if Aguila, Borchard or even Reed are capable of playing better than Abercrombie.

Considering all of the turnover on the Marlins roster, the lineup and defense certainly are not weaknesses. The rotation and bullpen have their problems, and that is largely the cause of their 20-35 record, as well as their 25th place ranking in this week's Prospectus Hit List. Joshua Johnson continues to the lead the pitching staff in VORP at 14.2, with no one else even in double digits. The offense has no such problems, with a .263 team EqA and three players in double digits in VORP. Adding Hermida to the mix again will certainly increase the production.