The Marlins traded away a bunch of their players. They didn’t trade away Giancarlo Stanton, though, so someone will hit some home runs in Miami. Will he be the only one? The ZiPs projections for the Marlins came out last week and they suggest he’ll really be the only power source in Miami this year. It even looks like he could be legendarily lonely.
Projecting on the team level is difficult. ZiPs projects players based on their talent level, but figuring out a team’s plate appearances and category totals is another thing. But we can take a stab at a depth chart and use the ZiPs projections as they are, for the most part, and guesstimate a team home run total.
Here are the Marlins’ players, projected by ZiPs, with some finagling once you get to the league average starting pitcher and beyond:
So what we did there was take the league average line for starting pitchers and give them 350 plate appearances for the 2013 Marlins. Four National League teams produced zero home runs by pitchers last year, no team hit more than four, and the average team’s starting pitchers hit one and a half home runs. So two seems reasonable. Then we took a backup shortstop, corner infielder, and two backup outfielders in order to fill our way close to the 6129 average plate appearances that the average National League team managed last season. Those roles are up in the air, of course, but Kevin Kouzmanoff, Derek Dietrich, Gorkys Hernandez and Bryan Petersen are decent enough guesses right now, as long as you believe the Marlins are likely to give Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick, and Zack Cox more time in the minor leagues. Even if you don’t believe those things, the youngsters aren’t likely to hit more than the 17 home runs we have the veterans producing.
With the numbers we have here, Giancarlo Stanton is going to hit exactly one-third of the Marlins’ home runs next season.
Depending on where you started, that ratio might seem like a lot or a little. But, thanks to Jeff Zimmerman, we can know exactly how Stanton’s loneliness ranks in an historical context:
Mike Schmidt sends his condolences, and Dave Kingman gives a knowing nod. But they were of a different time. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are invited to the party, but their qualifications are based on gaudier personal totals rather than team ineptitude.
There’s one name that fits like a glove: Matt Kemp. The 2011 Dodgers existed in the same power atmosphere as the 2013 Marlins will likely exist, and Kemp hit 39 home runs while Stanton is projected to hit 41. Rod Barajas hit 16 home runs to end up second on those Dodgers, and Andre Ethier and James Loney were the only other double-digiters. Justin Ruggiano, Logan Morrison and Kevin Kouzmanoff might fit that bill this year.
Stanton won’t be alone in the strictest sense of the word. He’ll have teammates, and they will hit some home runs. Stanton won’t even be alone when it comes to the history of lonely sluggers. Matt Kemp has felt his pain before, and recently. But if Giancarlo Stanton hits a couple more home runs than his projections, and his teammates hit a couple fewer home runs than their projections, he may be the loneliest slugger of our current offensive era.
At least the history of the Miami Marlins suggests that his loneliness in the everglades won’t last long.