Here we are, folks: the End of Season Post-Mortem series. If you're new here (which about 50% of our reader base is in comparison to last year), here's a brief explanation: after a team is eliminated from playoff contention, we're going to put their season under a microscope and look at just what the hell went wrong, what went right, and so on and so forth. The goal is to post these the day after a team is eliminated. Also, for the first ten teams eliminated, we're going to post a series called "Hope for the Hopeless", which is going to be an expanded version of the "What Went Right" portion of the Post-Mortem series pieces.
The second team this season to be officially eliminated from playoff contention is the Miami Marlins. In a weird way, that was a mild upset as many had the Marlins pegged for the worst record in baseball (there is still time though, c'mon Astros!). Despite gutting their roster of all their free agent signing from the winter before and lacking anything resembling a recognizable veteran, the Marlins gave their fan(s?) reason for hope that the Fish could rocket back into contention quickly so that they can trade away all their quality players all over again. The cycle, it never ends.
Preseason prediction: If the Marlins finish anywhere but last in the NL East, I'd be stunned. If they lose less than 90 games, I'd be stunned. This is a young team with some promise, but there are just too many holes for them to be contenders this year.
What Went Right: It is hard to believe that a team en route to over 100 losses had much go right, but the Marlins actually have a lot to be happy about going forward. A big part of that was the fantastic rookie season of pitcher Jose Fernandez. It shocked many that the Marlins even put Fernandez on the Opening Day roster, which is still a questionable decision since he effectively just wasted a year of team control on a terrible team, but he showed everyone that someone in the Marlin organization actually knows what they are doing. Fernandez currently boasts a 2.30 ERA and struck out over a better per inning. He could very well win NL Rookie of the Year and it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if he gets some down ballot votes for NL Cy Young.
The starting pitching in general was a pleasant surprise for Miami. Ricky Nolasco picked a good year to not be terrible which made him a nice trade chip at the deadline allowing the Marlins to add to their rich farm system. Behind him though were other young arms Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Turner who look every bit like part of what could be a scary rotation in the very near future. Heck, the Marlins even got solid work out of Kevin Slowey and Henderson Alvarez. Really, it is a wonder that the Fish didn't win more games with the kind of starting pitching they got.
What Went Wrong: Well, let's see. Jeffrey Loria is still the owner, so that isn't good because it turns out that he is a huge, massive, greasy, throbbing dick. But it is hard to say that actually "went wrong" since Loria being an evil troll hellbent on killing baseball in Florida for his own personal profit is pretty much the norm now.
The reason the Marlins were so bad was they were comically inept offensively. Lest we forget, this is a team that allowed Placido Polanco to spend a large chunk of the season batting cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton. Yeah, they were that bad. As of this writing, the Marlins are dead last in all of baseball in just about every major offensive category. They have scored over 50 runs less than any other team in baseball and carry a .229 AVG, .290 OBP and a .331 SLG. How a team with Giancarlo Stanton on it has that little power is hard to even get your head around. There just isn't much position player talent on the big league roster now as demonstrated by the fact that they have a mere four position player with a fWAR above 0.0. That talent is coming, it just isn't here now and isn't nearly as far along as the pitching appears to be.
And, finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that this happened:
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Most Surprising Player: In a lot of ways, this should go to Jose Fernandez just because nobody thought he would be this good this soon. But in the interest of not turning this whole piece into one long worship session of Fernandez, we'll give this honor to Marcell Ozuna who carries a similar narrative to Fernandez. He, too, was a kid that was called up before anyone expected. He has hardly been the star that Fernandez is, but Ozuna has proven himself a capable big leaguer at a very young age. Like the rest of the non-Stanton lineup members, he has some work to do with the bat, but thus far Ozuna has graded out as one of the best defensive outfielders in the league.
Most Disappointing Player: You could cast some aspersions on Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre who were supposed to be the steady veterans in the lineup providing a little stability and credibility. Neither were able to crack .600 in OPS. However, nobody really expected all that much from either of those washed up veterans. One of the youngsters who has really failed to deliver thus far for the Marlins is Adeiny Hachevarria who was acquired in their big trade with Toronto. Though he was never supposed to be a star, Hechavarria has been a huge disappointment with a -1.8 fWAR season. While he was always expected to be a light hitter, his .229/.271/.298 slash line leaves a lot to be desired. What has really hurt him though is that his glove has not been nearly as good as advertised. Hechavarria was supposed to be a brilliant defender, but the results have not been there outside of the occasional highlight reel play. Instead of Gold Glove defense, Hechavarria has been worth -6 Defensive Runs Saved a -9.5 UZR. Even as a stopgap solution for a terrible team, Hechavarria isn't even coming close to getting the job done.
The Future: As bad as the Fish are now, there future looks pretty bright. They have one of the better farm systems in baseball with a lot of talent set to reach the majors in the next year or two. And this is before they have even cashed in their biggest trade chip of all: Giancarlo Stanton. It seems probable that they will make that big trade of Stanton this off-season as the final step in their rebuilding plan . That will mean another rough season in the standing in 2014, but if things break right with kids like Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick and others, the Marlins could be a factor in the NL East in 2015, assuming Jeffrey Loria allows that to happen.