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Don't look now...

On August 1, the Marlins were 6 games under .500 with a 50-56 record and a run differential of -10, good for third place in the National League East. As of this morning, the Marlins are now a game over .500 at 72-71, tied with the Phillies for second in the division and only 2.5 back of the Wild Card leading Padres. They have also evened up their run differential with 673 runs scored and allowed.

In the preseason, most analysts and fans were predicting the Marlins to finish with well over 100 losses. I had them finishing ahead of the Nationals, but still not making any noise in the playoff race. A midseason prediction had them finishing with 83 wins, but playoffs again were not in sight. All that seems to have changed due to the parity in the NL.

Even though the Marlins only went 21-15 since August 1, they actually kept pace with the rest of the NL. Outside of the Phillies and Dodgers, none of the teams with playoff aspirations really seem to be able to put together any kind of consistent winning streaks, so the Marlins are still hanging on. This isn't to say that the Marlins aren't a talented team; their time most likely isn't now (as in, this is not the best team this talent base will produce) but they have some extremely productive young players keeping it interesting.

Everyone knows about Miguel Cabrera, who at age-23 is having the most productive season of his young career. Cabrera is hitting .339/.427/.587 ; he's most likely not going to tie his career high in homeruns, set last year, but he has career highs in average, on-base percentage and slugging, as well as walks, steals and doubles. His .337 EqA is also a career best. Since August 1 -- as you would expect -- Cabrera has led the offense to the tune of .371/.439/.679 with 24 extra-base hits -- that's the same number of times he's struck out over that span.

Josh Willingham has put together a very good rookie year at age 27, hitting .276/.354/.492 for the season and .315/.400/.543 since the aforementioned August 1 cutoff. His .290 EqA is well above the league average of .272 in left field, but he has struggled immensely on the defensive side of the ball. His .794 Zone Rating is well below the league average of .857 in left, and he has been worth -12 runs above average in the field.

Hanley Ramirez is the other offensive leader on the team as of late, slugging .338/.395/.563 with 17 steals (77% success) since August 1. Hanley has been impressive -- along with the other former Sox hand, Anibal Sanchez, who has taunted Red Sox fans with a no-hitter and fine pitching all season -- as a rookie, hitting .281/.347/.455 with 44 steals (79% success) and 58 extra-base hits in 541 at-bats. His .281 EqA is well ahead of the shortstop average of .253, but defensively he has also struggled. After a decent enough start with the glove, his Zone Rating has plummeted to .798, well below the average at shortstop of .832. Everyone seemed high on his defensive abilities in the minor leagues, so with more experience, adjustment may come, making Hanley a more complete player. For now, his offense is very good, and is helping to keep the Fish afloat in a closely packed National League playoff race.