The years of depression, finger-pointing, and being ridiculed for the constant losing, awful management will all come to an end in October. The Miami Marlins will make their first trip to the postseason since 2003, the last time they went, the Marlins walked away as champs. To be a history buff, the franchise has only made two trips to the playoffs, both times they left as World Series winner.
What makes this year any different?
The Marlins entered this season with more questions marks than a Trump and Hillary background check but when placed on the field they have proven to be a resilient bunch. To have MLB ready players is a luxury to teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and others but for the small market teams, like the Marlins, its been a struggle. Their championship years were a who’s who of throwaways as players like Bobby Bonilla, Gary Sheffield, Moises Alou and Darren Daulton helped lead them to a title in 1997. No where on that roster is there a Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout or Byrce Harper. Those Marlins were a surprise, much like the team we have before us now.
There is a name player in the bunch, a face of the franchise in Giancarlo Stanton. He has suffered through those bad for a super star psyche seasons, the injures and the “Marlins signed him for how much” remarks but hard work is starting to pay off for Stanton and his crew, minus one issue.
The Dee Gordon HGH scandal was heartbreaking, not only for the fans but the team. Gordon (in my eyes) was quickly becoming the best 2nd basemen in the majors. While the Marlins had limited success last year due to the absence of Stanton, Gordon held them together as much as he could, given the lack of experience of the young roster. As the calendar turned they entered 2016 with an “Us against the world” mentality that has the team sitting in the drivers seat for a Wild Card and 4 games behind the Nationals for the NL East lead.
Even without the services of Gordon the Marlins are the surprise team of the first half. They currently sit in 2nd place in the NL East and the Wild Card. Times have surely changed for the Marlins. But what would happen if they were to get in, would they be a real threat to the San Francisco Giants. Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles or Cleveland Indians?
The Marlins, offensively are one of the worst teams in baseball but they do enough to keep the game close and break backs in the late innings. The absence of Gordon is a large reason why they are down in the offensive category. If you’re looking for power hitters, Miami is not the lineup as only three player have 15 or more this season. But where they do their damage at is, small ball. The Marlins are batting .270 with 24 triples and 938 hits on the year. If their hitters can stay focused and work the count that plays to their advantage later in the innings. Pitchers come in thinking it’s easy to dominate or over power a non-power hitting team but not the Marlins, you must work every batter as if the bases are loaded as they are one of the best in the league in avoiding strikeouts.
For ages the post season has been defense, pitching and small ball. Doesn’t that fit right into the Marlins plans? Their pitching has been outstanding so far. Jose Hernandez has established himself as a true Ace but the issue lies within the bullpen. The Marlins are tops in saves but tops in blown saves as well. If they could mange to swing a trade for a quality reliever (the Yankees may have one on the market) then things could get hairy for whoever they may face in the playoffs.
The roster is young but the potential is huge. If the Marlins can continue to get timely hits and find either a stable set up man or reliever they have what it takes to win the World Series, it may not seem like it on paper but if you let history tell it, they are right where they need to be.