Just how bad is the Miami Marlins lineup?

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Much has been made of Miami's massive talent sell-off during the 2012 season and offseason. Let's run the numbers on the current team, and find out if things are really as bad as they seem.

The Miami Marlins have torn down what's left of their franchise, in the hopes of saving money and acquiring younger players. As a result, very few members of the 2013 Miami Marlins are established players, and the team is full of young players with questionable bats.

Last season, the Marlins weren't a very potent offensive squad, as evidenced by a stat called "wOBA." wOBA uses the linear weights method of assigning value to different offensive events, and presents a final number on about the same scale as on-base percentage that provides a holistic value of a player's hitting performance. As such, wOBA is able to compare the values of singles hitters, sluggers, walkers and everyone in between.

At any rate, the Marlins have already lost a few of their most productive offensive players (by wOBA and a number of other metrics), including Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez. As you might have heard, the team hasn't really added anyone to fill in the slack, save Juan Pierre.

So what are the chances that the Marlins' lineup for 2013 will be any good? Let's do our best to find out.

Thanks to the fine work Jason Martinez and team does at MLB Depth Charts, we've already got an idea as to what a current Miami Marlins lineup might look like. Of course, that's provided that Jeffrey Loria doesn't change course and open up the checkbook.

Ahaha. Ahahahaha.

Okay, all joking aside, this is a pretty reasonable guess at the Marlins' lineup for 2012, at least against right-handed pitchers:

It's not outside the realm of possibility that against left-handed pitchers Pierre, Brantly and Dobbs would cycle out for Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Mathis and Kevin Kouzmanoff. And quite honestly, I'd be very surprised if the Marlins don't have a player other than Dobbs or Kouzmanoff manning the hot corner when Opening Day rolls around.

Nevertheless, this is what the Marlins faithful has to work with today. Gary Sheffield isn't exactly walking through that door.

What I'd like to do now, is give you the 2012 wOBAs for each of those eight players. Check this out:

  • Juan Pierre - .320
  • Donovan Solano - .314
  • Logan Morrison - .308
  • Giancarlo Stanton - .405
  • Justin Ruggiano - .390
  • Greg Dobbs - .297
  • Rob Brantly - .358
  • Adeiny Hechavarria - .281

This is not ideal, under any circumstance, folks. League-average wOBA for non-pitchers in the N.L. last season was, drumroll please, .327. If you could expect that each player would replicate their 2012 performance (which you probably shouldn't), that means that the team has three hitters that are expected to be above league-average.

I'll start with the good news: I think Logan Morrison is a better-than-league-average hitter. He battled injury problems for much of 2012, and in 2011, Morrison had a wOBA of .346 over about a full season. Given his background and ability, I'd guess it more likely that he'll return to that form, rather than put up another terrible season like his last.

Also, Giancarlo Stanton is extremely real. I wouldn't be surprised if he repeated his 2012 performance. Man, is it fun to watch him hit.

That's it, guys. That's all the good news.

The rest of the news is bad. Juan Pierre has his best season since 2009, and his fourth-best offensive season ever in 2012. Counting on him to repeat 2012 is too positive a take. Donovan Solano has done nothing to prove that he's an above-average hitter at any level, including most stops in the minors. Adeiny Hechavarria might be better than Solano, but his bat hardly profiles as anything much above average.

Both Justin Ruggiano and Rob Brantly, two of those three above-average wOBA-ers, are awfully unlikely to repeat their previous levels of performance. Both of these players could post league-average wOBAs, and it's not outside the realm of possibility for Ruggiano to top .330 wOBA again. But .390 is just not very likely for J.R., and if Brantly is back at .358 next season, it will prove that the Omar Infante / Anibal Sanchez trade was an absolute win for the Marlins.

Oh, and Greg Dobbs is the worst. I'm sure he's a nice person and everything, but he was one of, if not the worst player in the National League last season. He should not be playing every day unless it's in Triple-A. And even then ... maybe not.

Add it all up, and the Marlins look to be very terrible offensively in 2013. I know, we're not exactly breaking new ground here, but I think it's amazing that a team with an baseball-murdering monster like Giancarlo Stanton might be the worst offense in baseball next season.

Now, it's probably important to remember that we're just talking about hitting ability here. There's another big half of team performance that this doesn't take into account: run prevention. Especially given how the team plays in cavernous Marlins Park, and how the team's "strength" is probably a young pitching staff with some upside, there might be a little hope on that side of the ball.

The Marlins were already pretty awful in 2012, offensively. In the NL, only the Astros and the Cubs were worse with the lumber, discounting pitcher hitting. The Astros might not be great again in 2013, but they are off to the American League. And the Cubs will benefit from Anthony Rizzo playing a full season, and may be adding more bats like Nate Schierholtz. The Marlins, meanwhile, should be worse than they were in 2012, which is probably saying something.

The expectation for the Marlins' few remaining fans is probably already rock-bottom. But unless the team picks up a few more bats, expect them to struggle to put up enough runs to be competitive in most games.

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