“Alluhring Strategy” Team Previews: 2016 Miami Marlins
Last and certainly not least, the Miami Marlins will wrap up Major League Fantasy Sports’ 2016 Team Previews. This Marlins team is definitely intriguing. Last year they had a disappointing
season finishing with a record of 71-91. A large part of this can be contributed to the fact that their best hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, had only 318 plate appearances and their best pitcher, Jose Fernandez, had only 64.2 innings pitched last season. This is significant because both are all-star, MVP caliber players that individually can impact the outcome of the game. In 2014, Stanton had a 6.5 WAR with 638 plate appearances. The only “full” season Fernandez pitched was his rookie campaign in 2013. He finished the season with a 6.3 WAR in 172.2 innings. If these two were healthy for the full season, the year may have played out completely different. With all the strong teams in the NL Central and the Mets coming out party, they may not have had a shot at the playoffs, but they would have contended for the majority of the season. Both are expected to begin the season healthy and will hopefully be the anchors for the entire season.
Notable Off-Season Additions:
- Wei-Yin Chen (Signed as FA)
- Edwin Jackson (Signed as FA)
- Chris Johnson (Signed as FA)
Notable Off-Season Subtractions:
- Henderson Alvarez (Signed with OAK)
Of the five teams I have previewed the Spring, this was the only team that was difficult to get excited about regarding their off-season moves. It is as though the front office agrees with the assessment that “if we just had our two All-World players, we would be right there.” As a result, the Marlins did next to nothing this off-season. No significant trades and only one significant Free-agent signing. I honestly struggled to come up with someone to list under “subtractions.” This was a courtesy due to his strong 2014 season which earned his an All-Star appearance and a few Cy Young votes. Last year was a waste as he managed only 22.1 forgettable innings as he couldn’t stay healthy. As it is, he signed with the Athletics and will likely miss the first few months due to his shoulder surgery.
Edwin Jackson and Chris Johnson were veteran depth signings that may have some value to the Marlins but not your fantasy teams. Jackson is slated for long relief as there are plenty of young arms the team can plug-in the rotation that have greater upside. Johnson will spell Justin Bour against some lefties but won’t play enough to be worth a roster spot unless Prado gets hurt or traded. He would have a shot at more playing time at 3B.
The one significant move they did make was an excellent addition. They signed Wei-Yin Chen to solidify their rotation. He will slide into the #2 role behind JoFer and
should thrive in the NL East. Technically he is slated to start Opening Day, but we all know who the #1 Starter is for this team. After pitching in the American League for the first four-year so his Major League career, Chen will enjoy pitching in a “pitchers” park with over 20% of their games against the Phillies and Braves. He has proven to be durable with 117 starts and over 700 innings pitched in that time. His exceptional control (5.8% career BB rate) and four pitch arsenal should keep hitters off-balanced. He might not strikeout a ton, but he will contribute in nearly every pitching category and is a work horse for your fantasy rotation. He is exactly what the Marlins need to stabilize the young staff.
Projected Opening Day Lineup:
- Dee Gordon (L) – 2B
- Marcell Ozuna (R) – CF
- Christian Yelich (L) – LF
- Giancarlo Stanton (R) – RF
- Justin Bour (L) – 1B
- Martin Prado (R) – 3B
- J.T. Realmuto (R) – C
- Adeiny Hechavarria (R) – SS
Projected Opening Day Bench:
- Jeff Mathis (R) – C
- Chris Johnson (R) – 1B/3B
- Derek Dietrich (L) – INF/OF
- Cole Gillespe (R) – OF
- Ichiro Suzuki (L) – OF
The Marlins lineup is longer than you might think. They go seven deep which is very good for a National League lineup. You need not look at their bench. They will all play a role for the Marlins, but they don’t belong on any rosters in leagues that have 16 teams or less.
There is a nice balance to the lineup as the first six alternates hitting from the left and right. They start off with one of the premiere lead-off men in baseball. Dee Gordon broke out the hit tool last season after showing elite speed in his first few seasons. He doesn’t walk the way you would want your lead-off guy to, but he gets on base through a high batting average. His batting average on balls in play was high (.383 BABIP in 2015) which suggests regression this season. I think he will overcome this because his ground ball rate is an incredible 59.8% which combined with this speed leads to getting on base. Draft him with confidence in rounds 2 or 3 and enjoy another .300 avg, 50+ SBs and 100 Runs with a healthy Stanton.
Some of my colleagues are high on Ozuna this year. He’s had the hype but hasn’t shown me that it is warranted. Every time he goes to minors, he hits like crazy. Then he comes to the Major Leagues and just teases the Marlins’ fans and fantasy owners. We saw the power potential in 2014. However I still look at three years and a career slash line of .265/.311/.417 with poor plate discipline (6.0% BB rate and 23.7% K rate). If you can get him in the later rounds, he should power off with power, but I am skeptical we will ever see the potential translate to a big time contributor.
Christian Yelich is another hyped prospect that was thought to be a perennial 20/20 guy. He has been a productive hitter and can help in many offensive categories.
However, power is probably not going to be one of them. His career GB% is over 60% and unless he makes an adjustment to his swing, it doesn’t appear that it will ever develop into Home Run power. He reminds me a bit of Alex Gordon, which is a pretty solid player. He has improved his strikeout rate and has a good approach at the plate. This has allowed him to get on base at a career clip of 36%. I have seen him go around the first 100 picks and that is probably too high for points leagues, but he could be more productive in category leagues and possibly worth that price.
Giancarlo Stanton has prolific power and one of the most feared hitters in the league. If healthy, he will be in the MVP running for the National League. I don’t think I need to convince anyone to acquire Stanton.
Justin Bour is the ultimate platoon guy. He crushes righties and can’t hit a lick against lefties. His power is real (.218 ISO in 2015) and will probably hit 25+ HRs this year. Word of advice…don’t draft or acquire Bour UNLESS you are able to manage your lineup daily. You must roster a decent 1B on your bench that you can plug-in when you see the projected starter against Miami is a lefty. He most likely won’t play and if he does, you are going to wish he was on your bench. Nice boast in category leagues if you need power, but he shouldn’t be your primary 1b in any format.
Prado and Realmuto will be solid contributors in real life and should help Miami extend their lineup, but they don’t hold a lot of value in leagues of 12 or less. Late round flyers are warranted for depth to cover injuries on your fantasy roster.
Projected Opening Day Rotation:
- Jose Fernandez (R)
- Wei-Yin Chen (L)
- Tom Koehler (R)
- Adam Conley (L)
- Jarred Cosart (R)
Projected Opening Day Bullpen:
- CL – AJ Ramos (R)
- SU8 – Mike Dunn (L)
- SU7 – Bryan Morris (R)
- MR – David Phelps (R)
- MR – Craig Breslow (L)
- MR – Brad Hand (R)
- LR – Edwin Jackson (R)
You might see a lot of household names in this bullpen, but they are surprising solid and should be effective in real life. It would be even deeper if Capps were closing, but he is done for the season and you want to consider rostering Ramos (for saves) and Dunn (for holds and saves). The rest of the bullpen will be much more useful to the actual Marlins than ANY fantasy roster. Keep an eye out for a minor league
pitcher that might get called up early in the season. Kyle Barraclough could be the future closer on this team if he could get any kind of command. He has had insane K rate numbers throughout the minors (28.7 career K%) and got a cup of coffee in Miami last summer straight from AA. This Spring he had a 1:1 BB to K ratio and the club felt he needed to get some time back in the minors. If he learns to command is 95 MPH fastball and his 85 MPH Slider, he will be a dominate reliever when called up. KEEP ON YOUR RADAR.
Like Stanton, I don’t need to convince anyone to go out and get Jose Fernandez. If he gets 175+ innings pitched this year, he could legitimately win the Comeback
Player of the Year AND the Cy Young. He should be one of the top 3 pitchers off the board with a plus fastball, plus-plus curve ball, above average change-up and plus command. After only one or two rusty starts after Tommy John, he dominated his remaining starts last season and should pick up where he left off. He should be the #1 targeted pitcher in dynasty leagues and the only thing that could hold him back from winning your fantasy league is that he might get shut down early.
Rotation spots #3-#5 will most likely be a carousel this year. I could see four pitchers (not named Chen and JoFer) get 20+ starts in 2016. It appears that they will roll out the season with a combination of Conley, Koehler and Cosart. I wouldn’t get excited about any of those three however, they could all be valuable on fantasy rosters to meet innings and/or Games started requirements as they should all give about 6 innings and not kill you in any category. 24 year-old lefty, Justin Nicolino, could replace the first one that gets injured or becomes ineffective. Once a promising prospect, Nicolino gradually lost his ability to strikeout anyone in the upper levels of the minors. There is value to Major League club for someone who will pitch to contact. There is no place for him on a fantasy roster except for super deep leagues (20+ teams). Finally, prospect Kendry Flores might see a few starts this season. He is intriguing because he actually has 5 pitches. Unfortunately, none of them are plus. The mix could keep hitters off balance and create a nice hot streak when he gets called up. I don’t see him offering much long term value, but could have a Jerad Eickhoff type surprise impact if he comes up mid-season.
Elite — JoFer, Stanton
All-Star — Gordon
Starter — Yelich, Chen, Ramos, Dunn
Reserves — Ozuna, Bour, Prado, Realmuto
Miami Marlins 2016 Outlook…
If JoFer pitches 175+ innings and Stanton gets 600+ plate appearances, Marlins will finish around .500 for the season. I’ll give them 83-81 record and finish a few games out of playoff contention. If either goes down for any significant time, it will be 2015 all over again. Either way, Marlins fans can hang their hat on the fact that they have the same amount of World Series Rings as the Yankees in the last 15 years. Now that is something to flex your muscles about!!!
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