Will the 2014 Miami Marlins be much different from the 2013 version? It’s not surprising that, after trading away nearly all of the franchise’s Fantasy worthy talent before the start of the season, the Miami Marlins finished the year at the bottom of the NL East.
However, losing 100 games didn’t stop the 2013 version of the Fish from proudly showcasing some of the game’s top young prospects.
In fact, it was Jose Fernandez’ stellar Rookie of the Year campaign that gives this team some semblance of Fantasy relevance heading into 2014.
With luck, the combination of Jose’s enthusiasm, a healthy Giancarlo Stanton, and the offseason acquisitions of Rafael Furcal, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Garrett Jones will help keep second-year manager Mike Redmond and his Marlins swimming upstream.
Projected 2014 Miami Marlins “Go-To” Lineup
- Rafael Furcal, 2B
- Christian Yelich, LF
- Giancarlo Stanton, RF
- Garrett Jones, 1B
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
- Marcell Ozuna, CF
- Casey McGehee, 3B
- Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
- SP1 Jose Fernandez RHP
- SP2 Jacob Turner RHP
- SP3 Nathan Eovaldi RHP
- SP4 Henderson Alvarez RHP
- SP5 Tom Koehler RHP
- P Kevin Slowey RHP
- Setup Man: Mike Dunn LHP
- Closer: Steve Cishek RHP
Fantasy Studs: Jose Fernandez, Giancarlo Stanton
Fantasy Baseball truly is a game of setting realistic expectations.
After starting the season in the minors and going undrafted in essentially every non-dynasty Fantasy league on the planet, Fernandez gave unsuspecting Fantasy owners a season to remember. He finished the year with 12 wins and 187 strikeouts over 172 innings pitched. Historically speaking, that’s one of the best seasons a 20-year-old has ever had.
Given the fact that he steadily improved his K%, Walk Rate and ERA over the second half of the season, there is little reason to question Fernandez’s endurance and his ability to compete at a similar level (Top 15 SP) over the entirety of a 162-game schedule.
Stanton, on the other hand, failed to hold up his end of the Fantasy bargain in 2013. He fell short of Top 10 OF expectations once again, after missing 56 games and striking out 27.8% of the time he was actually healthy enough to step up to the plate.
That doesn’t change the fact that he still possesses one of the most powerful swings in baseball.
When you take into consideration his age (24), talent and physical stature, Stanton remains a valuable Fantasy commodity in dynasty formats. Just don’t expect him to hit 50 home runs while he’s contractually obligate to stay in Miami.
Breakout Candidate: Steve Cishek
The Marlins don’t always win games, but when they do they’re usually pretty damn close. Hence, Steve Cishek’s 34 saves in 69 appearances last season.
That’s not too shabby for a closer on a team that won only 62 games last year. Even more impressive was the fact that he struck out a career high 79 batters over the course of 69.2 innings.
While it’s realistic to expect a slight regression in Cishek’s WHIP (1.077) and ERA (2.33) totals from last year, there will be more than enough opportunities for the 6-foot-6 sidewinder to eclipse 30 saves again this year. That alone justifies his dirt-cheap price on Draft Day.
Sleeper: Marcell Ozuna
In 2012, Marcell Ozuna tallied 24 home runs and had 95 RBI in 129 games while playing for the Marlins’ Class A affiliate in Jupiter.
Unfortunately, he vanished off most of our Fantasy radars last July, after sustaining a season-ending thumb injury.
Before landing on the disabled list, Ozuna was batting .265 with 17 doubles, 32 RBI and five steals during his first 70 big-league appearances.
Reports suggest Ozuna will be fully healed heading into Spring Training and although he’s another candidate for racking up a ton of strikeouts, the 23-year-old outfielder has the potential to be a cheap source of power in deep mixed leagues.
If healthy, it’s not unrealistic to expect over 450 AB, 10-15 HR, 50 RBI and 10 SB from Marcell Ozuna in 2014.
Bust: Christian Yelich
Ozuna’s thumb injury was just one of the excuses the Marlins used to test its top hitting prospect, Christian Yelich, at the major-league level last season.
During his first 62 games, Yelich certainly proved he’s capable of holding his own at the top of Miami’s batting order. In 240 at-bats, he had a .370 OBP, scored 34 runs and was a perfect 10-for-10 stealing bases.
The reason I’m labeling Yelich as a bust is because I’m not confident he’ll reach the 15-plus HR and 60-plus RBI projections I’m seeing out there this season.
I also read a really compelling argument via BaseballProfessor that suggests Yelich’s peripheral numbers don’t support a repeat of his rookie performance.
Basically, the way I see it, Yelich needs to bulk-up on some of Gonos’ game day recipes and so he can start hitting the ball in the air with a little more confidence. Until then, I’m going to let everyone else in my league pay top dollar for his frail-framed Fantasy services.
Top Rookie: Andrew Heaney
If there’s anything the Marlins have been consistently good at, it’s developing quality pitching prospects and Andrew Heaney is no exception.
The 22-year-old left-hander was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft and everything I read about his command reminds me of HOFer Tom Glavine.
Last year, the 1.60 ERA and 89 strikeouts Heaney posted during his first 95.1 innings pitched across Class A and Double-A were impressive enough to be named MLB.com’s No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect.
While it’s completely unfair to expect the same level of production out of Heaney that Fernandez generated during his rookie season, a promising start in the minors could mean a midseason call-up, as well as a franchise that desperately needs a dominant lefty in their starting rotation.
What You Should Know
There’s a bright future for baseball in Miami, but chances are there won’t be too many Marlins on your Fantasy Baseball rosters in 2014.
With so many young players on this team that are inevitably prone to struggle, it’s impossible to guarantee you’ll amass the AB and IP you’ll need to win your Fantasy league if you rely too heavily on their unproven talent.
When in doubt, you should defer to veteran players in more robust lineups to reduce the overall variance of your Fantasy roster.
Maybe in a couple of years some of those would-be veterans on this 2014 Miami Marlins club will still be playing in South Florida.
Travis Rowe is a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Miami who enjoys applying his problem solving skills to the world of Fantasy Sports. You can find more of his work over at GoProFantasySports.com and FantasyTrade411.com.
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