Miami Marlins: Second Verse Same as the First – A Little Bit Louder and a Little Bit Worse

When Jeffrey Loria agreed to sell the Marlins, baseball breathed a collective sigh of relief.  One of the cheapest and most poorly run franchises would finally be turned over to an ownership group that would hopefully treat the team as more than just a financial asset.   Ownership that would invest in the major and minor league roster?  A front office that might hold on to talent rather than add and then quickly divest?  Could good will develop between Miami and its team again?

The Marlins’ fan base should be extremely upset with what has played out since the new ownership group has taken over.  However, there doesn’t appear to be any Marlins fans left to care.  But for those of us who are fans of baseball in general, the off season moves that this team has made appear lack-luster at best and complete salary dumps at worst.

There are questions regarding who within the ownership group is exactly making these unpopular decisions and trades.  Derek Jeter has been the face/mouthpiece for the team and as a result he has become a lightning rod for criticism.  Regardless of whether he is the party to blame for these moves is unimportant.  What matters is that this ownership group does not seem to be charting a new course for the organization. These moves could be commended if the new owners were getting out from under bad contracts.  However, the contracts that have been moved (Gordon, Stanton, and Ozuna) were not bad contracts.  They may have been the team’s more expensive commitments but the players appeared to be well worth their price.

Compiling a talented outfield like the Marlins had is extremely difficult for a front office to accomplish. Although the former Marlins’ regime had made a number of decisions/moves that ranged from questionable to bone-headed, the one thing that they did do well was assemble an extremely talented group of starting outfielders.  There is no question that a team has to move valuable pieces in order to get value in return when making a trade, but the loss of this stacked outfield will have a crippling effect on the offensive production and defensive value of the team going forward.  The return the Marlins have to show for these moves is not worth the opportunity cost of moving on from a talented outfield core, the ill will the organization generated among hopeful fans (if there were any left), and the poison that has affected the remaining talent (Yelich and Realmuto).

stanton                         ozuna                         yelich

The disservice that the current ownership group has done to the team cannot be understated.  They have disassembled what was the most productive trio of outfielders during 2017 in all of MLB.  The pretense that these moves were made to get younger/build the farm system up/prepare for contention down the road is misleading.  It is an easy excuse for the underlying cheapness of the organization.

Here is a breakdown of 2017 outfield production around the league.  Highlighted are the number of games played by each team’s three primary outfielders, their overall OPS+ (number of games played helps put this number into better prospective), and total Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with offensive WAR an defensive WAR broken down.

2017 Outfield Performance:

Team: Marlins

marlins

Player———-Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Stanton            159                           165            7.6               6.5                             0.4

Ozuna               159                           145            5.8               4.8                             0.4

Yelich                156                           117            3.9               4.5                            -0.3

This is a relatively young outfield.  In 2017 these three players remained in excellent health.  Their strong OPS+ showing is based on a large number of games played.  WAR indicates that all three outfielders were above average (especially on offense) and that all three performed without issue in the field.  As you will see in the following comparisons, this outfield could have been the envy of the league for years to come.

 

Team: Red Sox

red-sox

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Betts                     153                         108            6.4               3.3                             2.6

Bradley Jr.          133                          89             2.8               1.9                             1.3

Benintendi         151                        103             2.6               1.9                             0.4

Benintendi put up a solid rookie season but Bradley Jr. missed time and came back down to his career levels of production after a great 2016.  Betts still produced on offense and in the field but his OPS+ shows that he was much closer to league average (due to the inflated offensive totals of the league) than he has been in the past.   

 

Team: Astros

astros

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Springer              140                        144            5.0                 5.2                           -0.3

Reddick               134                        134            4.4                 4.0                           -0.2

Aoki                       70                          98             0.7                 0.3                            0.1

Gonzalez              48                         150           4.3                 4.7                           -0.4

*Gonzalez played many positions for the Astros and is added to the outfield list as Aoki was traded on July 31st.  Gonzalez played the outfield 17 times after Aoki was traded.

The world champs had two regular and one rotating third member comprising their outfield.  Springer put up an extremely solid campaign and Reddick, although undervalued and mostly ignored by the media, was very good as well.  Gonzalez (see notation above) played a variety of positions and had his best offensive season ever.  However, he did not put in enough time to be considered a regular outfielder.

 

Team: Dodgers

dodgers

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Taylor                 140 (96 in OF)          122            4.8                    4.2                          0.7

Pederson           102                              95           -0.4                    0.9                         -1.1

Puig                    152                             118           3.7                     1.9                          1.3

*Taylor Played 96 games in the Outfield.  His OPS+ and WAR statistics are based on his entire 140 games played.

World Series runners up had mixed results in their outfield.  Puig bounced back and Taylor came out of nowhere to put up significant numbers.  However, like Gonzalez in Houston, he played a variety of positions.  His statistics above reflect his entire production for the season, not just his outfield work so on paper, the outfield looks a bit better than it actually fared over the course of the season.  Pederson’s production with the bat continued to decline and the defensive metrics did not like his glove work either.

 

Team: Diamondbacks

diamondbacks

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Pollock                 112                         99             2.9                 2.2                            0.9

Peralta                 140                         99             2.5                 1.9                            0.0

Tomas                    47                         87            -0.5                 0.2                           -0.8

Martinez                62                       168            2.6                 2.5                           -0.2

*Tomas was initially in the team’s starting OF.  Martinez was traded to the D-Backs on July 18th and his statistics are reflective only of his performance with the D-Backs.

A.J. Pollock looked good when healthy but continued to experience injuries that limited him to 112 games total.  The less that can be said about Tomas (especially his defensive work), the better.  J.D. Martinez came over in mid-July and continued to rake like he did in Detroit (and he also continued to play below average defense).  Peralta was his solid self.

 

Team: Rockies  

rockies

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Parra                      115                       94             0.9                   0.3                         0.0

Blackmon              159                     142            6.0                   6.5                        -0.2

Gonzalez               136                       87            -0.2                   0.1                       -0.9

The Rockies usually sport a power-packed outfield.  One would think that their return to the post-season in 2017 would mean the outfield produced.  However, besides Blackmon, who put up impressive numbers, the two other players garnering the most outfield work failed to do much.  Gonzalez had a particularly poor year ending the season with negative value and a below average OPS+. 

 

Team: Brewers

brewers

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Braun                   104                        111            1.2                  1.7                         -0.9

Broxton                143                         85              0.4                  1.2                        -0.6

Santana               151                        126             3.0                 3.5                         -1.1

The Brewers surprised the league in 2017.  They have a number of young exciting players with significant upside.  A review of their outfield however, shows that they are a butcher shop in the field.  Braun continued to battle injuries and played in only 104 games.  Broxton was streaky (to the point of a minor-league demotion) while Santana broke out in his first year as an every day player and had a big offensive year.

 

Team: Rays

rays

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Dickerson                  150                   120            2.7                    2.8                          -0.9

Kiermaier                   98                    114            5.1                    2.9                           2.5

Souza                         148                   121             4.2                    3.5                           0.2

The Rays have a quietly solid outfield.  All three regulars put up above average seasons (by OPS+ and WAR) in 2017 however, Kiermaier couldn’t stay healthy again.  This trio would be even more impressive as group if Dickerson played better defense and Kiermaier could play 145 games or more per year.  There is a lot to like about these three going into 2018.  Although they were good, they were not ‘Marlins outfield’ good.

 

Team: Yankees

yanks

Player———- Games Played—– OPS+—– WAR—– Offensive WAR—– Defensive WAR

Ellsbury                    112                      97            1.7                 2.1                           -0.1

Gardner                   151                     104           4.9                 2.8                            1.6

Judge                         155                     171           8.1                 7.2                           0.3

Hicks                           88                      122           3.9                 2.4                           1.5

*Ellsbury played 97 games in Centerfield.  Hicks played 52 games in Centerfield.

The addition of Stanton (from the aforementioned Marlins) will likely be a huge upgrade for the Bombers as long as he remains healthy.  How they will deploy Judge and Stanton in the same outfield should be interesting.  Ellsbury continued to be injured and came nowhere close to producing the value the team expected when he was signed as a free agent.  Hicks, when healthy, had a surprisingly good year with his bat and in the field.  Gardner remained consistent and had another solid season putting up a 20-20 campaign.  2018 will be his age 34 season.

As this look around the league shows, the Marlins have decided to squander one of the few advantages they possessed.  By choosing the break up an elite outfield unit, Jeter and company have demonstrated that saving money and trading production for lottery tickets is more important than retaining an exciting core and building around them.  If this new Marlins’ regime continues to operate like Loria’s group, losing fans and games will continue to plague Miami.      

Follow me on Twitter @doctordaver

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