If all you knew about Miami's roster was that it featured two players typically selected within the top-35 picks in fantasy drafts, then you might assume the franchise was doing just fine. Healthy, even. Certainly not a doormat.
But of course the Marlins are a doormat. They've finished dead-last in the N.L. East in each of the past three seasons, and their loss totals are moving in the wrong direction: 90 in 2011, 93 in 2012, 100 in 2013. Miami ranked last in run-scoring in 2013 (by a mile), last in batting average, last in OBP and last in slugging. They were the only team in baseball to hit fewer than 100 home runs.
On paper, this team looks pretty terrible in 2014. I'm not sure if it's 100-loss-terrible, but it's bad.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
However, the Fish have one of baseball's best young power hitters under team control through 2016, plus they have one of the game's finest young power pitchers under control through 2018. So Miami isn't a complete fantasy wasteland. Let's dive in...
A: Yup, that's the way things are shaking out in early NFBC action. (ADPs right here.) With an average draft position in the 30-32 range, your profit potential on Fernandez is clearly limited. The kid was tremendous last season, no doubt — 2.19 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 9.75 K/9 — and we're paying for it this spring.
Great as he is, we have to worry about an as-yet-unspecified innings cap with Fernandez — MLB.com's Joe Frisaro has guessed 180-190. It's no simple thing to deliver third-round fantasy value while operating under a workload limit. We obviously have to acknowledge that he'll pitch for a win-challenged team, too. I'll probably pass on Jose at his current price, though I understand the appeal. The kid is plenty fun to watch.
Q: Is Stanton healthy-ish this season? Any reason for concern there?
A: Stanton dealt with shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries last season, plus he has knee issues in his recent past. So sure, a certain level of concern seems reasonable. He has no known aches or pains at the moment, however. If you're worried about anything with Stanton, it should probably be the quality of the Marlins' batting order — improved from last season, but still a sketchy collection of names. Counting stats won't be easily compiled in Miami.
Still, Stanton has rare power — just look at this insane bomb. He's a clear candidate to top 35 homers if he gives us 130-plus games.
Q: Should mixed league owners care about any other Fish hitters?
A: Generally speaking, this is a lineup built for the N.L.-only crowd. Even in a deep mixer, you're not going to chase guys like Salty, Jones. McGehee or Furcal. Marcell Ozuna has 20-homer potential, but that hardly makes him a starting-quality mixed league outfielder.
Christian Yelich is really the one Marlin position player you should target in the end-game, because he has a chance to be something more than serviceable. Yelich had a fantastic spring for Miami last season (.364/.451/.818), you might recall, and he held his own after making his big league debut in July. As a 21-year-old, he delivered a .288 average and .370 on-base percentage over 273 plate appearances in the majors. Not too shabby. Yelich was a career .313/.387/.499 hitter in the minors, so he's legit. He's line-drive/groundball machine, unlikely to deliver a significant power total. But don't be surprised if he gives us, say, a dozen homers and 15 steals with a respectable slash-line.
Tell me you don't like this swing. I'm a fan.
Q: Any prospects here we need to target?
A: Miami's farm system probably won't place too high in anyone's rankings, but that's only because this organization so aggressively promotes young players to the big leagues. The Marlins don't tend to play the service-time game when they think a kid is ready. Check out the ages of last year's players — no, not Polanco and Pierre and Ruggiano. The other players. Fernandez was 20, Yelich was 21, Ozuna 22, Hechavarria 24, and Dietrich 23. Heck, Stanton was just 23 and already in his fourth major league season.
The most interesting prospect in this system, at least in my view, is left-handed starter Andrew Heaney. He was dominant at Single-A last season (0.88 ERA, 66 Ks, 17 BB, 61.2 IP), then transitioned successfully to Double-A Jacksonville (4-1, 2.94 ERA). Given the history of this organization, we can't completely rule out the possibility that Heaney might crack the opening day rotation. A more realistic expectation, though, would be a May/June arrival. You shouldn't think of him as more than a fantasy spot-starter in year one.
Outfielder Jake Marisnick didn't impress at the big league level last season (.183/.231/.248), but he offers low-level power and speed, enough to keep him on the radar. You aren't drafting him, though. Third base prospect Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, is at least a year away from the bigs, and his power potential remains an unsettled question. No obvious need to pounce on him, dynasty owners.
Q: Got any Carlos Marmol jokes before we go?
A: Oh, no. We're done here. We shall speak no more of Marmol.