Analyzing Miami Marlins Hitters For 2020
After management tore its team down to the studs, the Miami Marlins’ rebuild remains in its early stages. Last season saw the club put a number of talented pitchers on center stage while also allowing hitters to sink or swim at the major league level. This environment has created a number of players who are worth looking at later in 2020 drafts, most of whom will have ample opportunity to push further ahead on the major league learning curve.
As the offseason surges toward free agency, the Marlins declined the 2020 option on Starlin Castro‘s contract. The team will look toward securing innings for a number of young players, including Lewis Brinson and Isan Díaz. Expect the club to be active at the bottom end of free agency to improve lineup quality while some younger homegrown players develop. Make sure to keep an eye on outfielders Jesus Sanchez and Monte Harrison as they make their way from Triple-A to the 25-man roster at some point next year.
- ADDITIONS: TBD
- SUBTRACTIONS: Castro (2B/3B) was bought out despite a late-season surge. The Marlins could offer him a one-year deal in free agency, but they have little incentive to do so thanks to the presence of both Diaz and 3B/OF Brian Anderson. If he were to re-sign, Castro would be just outside of the Top 30 third basemen and second basemen as he enters his age-30 season. With Miguel Rojas receiving an extension in late September, JT Riddle will likely not return to the team in 2020.
Jorge Alfaro (C | Batting 7th)
2019: 44 R, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 4 SB, .262/.312/.425 | C #16
2020 ADP: — (C #17)
Despite a change of scenery, Jorge Alfaro hit .262 for the second straight season and saw his OPS rise just five points from .731 with the Phillies in 2018 to .736 with the Marlins last season. While his productivity increased thanks to more games played, his ISO (.162) barely budged, his BABIP regressed (from an unsustainable .406 mark to a still high .364), his BB/K rate barely budged, and his WRC+ of 95 remained flat.
Nonetheless, the Marlins do not have any catching talent close to being MLB-ready behind Alfaro, and they will give him every opportunity to succeed while he works with their stable of young pitchers.
Strengths: PA/AB, H, HR
Weaknesses: OBP, OPS, RBI
Alfaro will turn 27 nearly midway through the 2020 season. With over a year of service time under his belt and no options remaining, he will be free from any platoon possibilities and could easily be a Top 15 fantasy catcher if he takes the next step.
His peripherals are not encouraging, and his development window is closing. It’s unclear if the Marlins’ young lineup will offer him any protection, but it’s less and less likely that a breakout season is in the making. It would probably be best to look elsewhere, as his 2020 projections do not match his 2019 results or his early-offseason ADP.
2020 Projection: 36 R, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 2 SB, .223/.275/.349
Brian Anderson (3B/OF | Batting 3rd)
2019: 57 R, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 5 SB, .261/.342/.468 | 3B #31
2020 ADP: 146.0 (3B #20)
Anderson took the next step in 2018, and the Marlins rewarded his results with a spot in the heart of the order as well as a chance to play both third base and right field. During his age-26 season, Anderson set a career high in home runs, RBI, and slugging despite being limited to 126 games following a late-August hand injury.
FanGraphs’ current ZiPS projections are not kind to the 2014 third-round pick, but he could return great value for a mid-round selection if he continues on his current trajectory.
Strengths: H, RBI, OPS
Weaknesses: SO, OBP
Anderson showed upside last season and should remain a fixture in the heart of the Marlins lineup thanks to both his bat and his defensive versatility. He’ll be 27 next year and unlocked some power thanks to a career-high 44 percent hard-contact rate. As the Marlins offense improves during their organizational rebuild, there will be more opportunity for both runs and RBI.
With an increase in power came a slight decrease in both batting average and on-base percentage. Anderson’s BABIP dipped closer to the league average at .305, and he saw his strikeout rate rise by nearly three percentage points. FanGraphs projects Anderson to be worth 2.5 WAR despite two consecutive seasons clearing at least 3.1 WAR, so there is some risk involved despite Anderson’s mid-round draft grade.
2020 Projection: 80 R, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 2 SB, .259/.342/.399
Garrett Cooper (1B/OF | Batting 4th)
2019: 52 R, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 0 SB, .281/.344/.446 | 1B #51
2020 ADP: 278.0 (1B #31)
The Marlins believe Garrett Cooper can be their everyday first baseman next season, with recently acquired Lewin Diaz the lone prospect who could push Cooper for playing time or make the club consider moving him to the outfield on a more consistent basis.
The big question with Cooper continues to be his health, as he played in only 107 games last year and may not be able to take advantage of the workload the Fish’s front office wants to put in front of him.
Strengths: H, SLG, OPS
Weaknesses: SO, OBP
Cooper overcame a pair of early-season injuries to post a 164 wRC+ with a .991 OPS in June, once again showing his potential. He also had by far his best season despite finishing the year on the injured list. Among qualified players, he had the second-highest OPS (.791) on the Marlins and will hold down a major role to begin 2020.
Entering his age-29 season, Cooper has not been able to stay healthy and is projected by ZiPS (via FanGraphs) for a flat 0.0 WAR with 94 games played in 2020. Lewin Diaz catapulted himself from a virtual unknown to nearly a Top 10 prospect in the Marlins organization and will begin the season at Triple-A next year. This would push Cooper toward the bottom of the lineup and move his profile to a pure corner outfielder.
2020 Projection: 37 R, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB, .245/.307/.382
Miguel Rojas (SS | Batting 2nd)
2019: 52 R, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 9 SB, .284/.331/.379 | SS #36
2020 ADP: — (SS #35)
The Marlins rewarded Rojas with a two-year extension as well as a third-year team option in September, cementing him as the stopgap between the current lineup and Top 100 prospect Jazz Chisholm, who will likely begin the year at Triple-A. A reliable player entering his seventh major league season, Rojas will slot into the top of the Marlins lineup and is worthy of a mention for super-deep or NL-only fantasy leagues.
Strengths: H, AVG
Weaknesses: SLG, OPS
Rojas solidified himself near the top of the Marlins lineup, appearing in 132 total games and hitting first or second in the order for 74 total contests. He posted a .285/.332/.382 slash line when playing shortstop and a .265/.291/.361 when hitting second despite a .300 BABIP in the latter situation. As the pieces around Rojas improve, his ability to get on base and get driven in should improve as well as he remains a useful piece.
Entering Rojas’ age-31 season, ZiPS has him slated for a .259/.305/.352 slash line with an even less impressive .283 BABIP. While his 35.6% hard-contact rate was a career high, he continues to have a penchant for ground balls and remains a very low-ceiling option.
2020 Projection: 41 R, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB, .259/.305/.352
Harold Ramirez (OF | Batting 5th)
2019: 54 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, .276/.312/.416 | OF #97
2020 ADP: 269.0 (OF #78)
The Marlins found a bit of a hidden gem in Harold Ramirez, plucking the 25-year-old outfielder from the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency and assigning him 119 major league games last season. At this point, Ramirez is a stopgap between the current Marlins roster and future prospects Sanchez and Harrison, but his serviceable defense and 181 wRC+ in high-leverage situations have earned him more playing time next season.
Strengths: R, H, RBI
Weaknesses: OBP, OPS
Ramirez will spend nearly all year at age 25, so there is room for opportunity and growth. If the Marlins move on from Martin Prado (or Prado moves on from the Marlins), then Ramirez will remain a fixture in a corner outfield spot and will likely see more chances near the heart of Miami’s batting order.
When batting fifth last year, Ramirez produced a .325/.346/.429 slash line and a wRC+ of 107 across 130 plate appearances.
Despite a nice debut season surrounded by poor circumstances, Ramirez remains a low-ceiling player with a glut of talented prospects encroaching upon his long-term serviceability. FanGraphs’ ZiPS projection has Ramirez slated for a -1.0 WAR season next year.
2020 Projection: 46 R, 7 HR, 42 RBI, 8 SB, .237/.283/.339
Playing Time Battles
- Players mentioned above do not have an immediate platoon split to worry about, but as mentioned, they may have to contend with prospects preparing to come up later in the 2020 season. The Marlins will also be active in free agency but are not yet ready to sign expensive, big-name free agents.
- Ramirez will have to contend with prospects Sanchez and Harrison, who both will begin the 2020 season in Triple-A. Harrison may push Brinson out of the picture in center field, but if not, then there would be one fewer outfield spot to work with when the time comes.
- Cooper will have to contend with Lewin Diaz at first base but has the versatility to move into the outfield if needed.
- Rojas will remain the Marlins’ shortstop, but could be moved around depending on the development of highly touted prospect Jazz Chisholm. With Isan Díaz sticking at second base as he works through the final stages of his development, Chisholm will be a name to watch as we enter the 2020 season.
|Miami Marlins||vs. RHP|
|Miami Marlins||vs. LHP|
Overall, the Marlins will not be a fantasy baseball powerhouse. While that’s not a surprise, there are a few talented players on the roster who will have an opportunity to produce daily and overachieve compared to their late-round draft grade. The Marlins remain a team to monitor especially in dynasty formats, as their talented prospects and major league-ready pitchers could cause their contending window to open sooner than some think.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)