If you haven’t seen the new direction Miami is heading this season, you must have been living under a baseball rock. After being one of the better offenses in 2017, (being 11th in runs scored in MLB and 5th in the National League), they traded away basically their entire offense. NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees; Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, Christian Yelich to the Brewers, and Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners. The only major offensive pieces not yet traded at this time are Miami’s catcher J.T Realmuto and first baseman Justin Bour. So looking at what has happened, is there anything fantasy wise you can salvage from this total rebuild?
Lewis Brinson: The most obvious fantasy asset worth owning beyond the two players mentioned above is Lewis Brinson. Traded from the Brewers to Miami in the Christian Yelich Deal, Brinson comes with a high prospect pedigree. Brinson is a hometown boy, growing up a then Florida Marlin fan. According to Baseball America, he was the #16 prospect in 2016, #27 in 2017, and is now #18 heading into 2018. Brinson is a coveted dynasty asset because of his 20/20 potential. In 2017, he played in the Pacific Coast League, one of the most friendly hitting leagues in baseball, and hit .331 with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 76 games. He found less success with the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .106 in 21 games. Going into his age 24 season, Brinson is seemingly set to be an everyday outfielder for the Miami Marlins. With a Fantrax ADP of 295.79, fantasy owners don’t seem very optimistic that his upside will translate into numbers come the regular season. There are reasons to be optimistic about Brinson for 2018. For one his BABIP was extremely low at .107, especially for a guy with his speed. It was also his first taste of the Big Leagues, and a short one at that only playing 21 games and getting 55 plate appearances for the Brewers in 2017. His Hard contact rate pulled from the short cup of coffee was an acceptable 33.3% with only a 13.3% soft contact rate. Brinson could be a bust, but at a 295 ADP, I’d be willing to take the dive and bet Brinson breaks out in 2018.
Cameron Maybin: So beyond the obvious in Brinson, who is going to be fantasy relevant for the Marlins in 2018? Look no further than the recent signing of Cameron Maybin. Maybin comes off a season only batting .228 between the Angels and Houston last year. This was in part due to a drop in BABIP, as his career BABIP is .316 and he had a .274 BABIP last year. If it rebounds, the average should settle to more acceptable levels. The biggest reason Maybin may be fantasy relevant? His stolen base totals. In 114 games last year he stole 33 bases. Those stolen bases could be very valuable in a roto league if you ignore steals early on in your draft. His ADP is currently sitting at 385.62 on Fantrax. If he can come close to his 2016 numbers with the Tigers were he batted .315 in 94 games, that ADP is a bargain. He has never been a huge hard contact guy, but he did improve it 2.7% in 2017 over his 2016 season.
Starlin Castro: So let’s leave the outfield behind us as we look further into Miami’s offense. Now, we head to second base where a new face takes over at the position. Starlin Castro was dealt to the Marlins in the Stanton deal and looks to bat in the middle of the order for the Marlins. He hit .300 for the first time since 2011 with the Cubs, when he was the youngest player ever to lead MLB in hits. He is one of the “veteran” players if you will for this young Miami team. Heading into his age 28 season, Castro had continued to develop power as he ages, hitting 21 home runs in 2016, and 16 in 2017. Not eye-popping numbers, but good enough for a guy that can hit between .280 and .300. Castro should see an uptick in RBI with the move to the middle of the order for Don Mattingly’s club after having 63 for the Yankees in 112 games during 2017. He produced in the middle of that Yankee’s lineup when he was on the field, getting 51 of his RBI when he was in the 4th and 5th spot in the order. With all the youth in Miami getting a chance, don’t forget about players such as Starlin Castro come draft day.
Dan Straily: The batting order is not the only place to find fantasy relevant players, surprisingly there could be some decent starting pitchers in Miami’s pitching staff. Starting off with the often overlooked Dan Straily. Straily broke out with the Cincinnati Reds back in 2016 when he posted a 3.76 ERA in 191.1 innings. He was slightly worse for the Marlins in 2017, posting a 4.26 ERA and proved to be a decent streamer in most leagues. He is the “ace” of this staff if you will. Straily posted his best K/9 last year at 8.4 to go with a career-best 3.0 BB/9. What really bites Straily is the long ball where he has posted a 1.5 HR/9 in each of his last two seasons. His FIP and xFIP aren’t very kind to him either. So it burns the question, why do I like Straily as a starter? The simple fact that baseball is changing. It seems to be all offense with the launch angle revolution and more runs are being scored now than in the past. Baseball scored 4.65 runs per game last year, that is the highest total since 2008. You don’t see many guys outside the top aces with a sub 3.50 ERA and a guy that can post a 3.50-4.50 ERA is more valuable now than it was 3 or 4 years ago. With the improvements in his strikeout rate and walks, Straily is on the right path. If he can deal with his demons, (the home run ball), then he could be a serviceable 5th starter in your fantasy rotation.
Drew Steckenrider: The next guy is a bullpen arm that might see the closer’s role come his way in 2017. He is not a guy you necessarily need to take in your initial fantasy draft, however, he should absolutely be on your watchlist. That guy is Drew Steckenrider. In his first Major League season, Steckenrider posted a 2.37 ERA while maintaining a 14.0 K/9. He pitched in 37 games for the Marlins last year. He did have his issues with walks, giving up 4.7 walks per 9, but that is not uncommon for a pitcher getting his first taste of the Major Leagues. For now, it seems that Brad Ziegler is the committed closer in Miami, but his 2017 season was one to forget and any early faltering from him could bring a swift change. Steckenrider would be competing with Barraclough for saves if and when Ziegler is removed from the role. Barraclough struck out less and walked more, having a 5.2 BB/9. Both Barraclough and Steckenrider should be in your fantasy watchlist once the season begins, as the closer carousel might land on one of them come later in the season.
So there are some fantasy relevant players for Miami in 2018. It might be a disaster of a season for them, but maybe a few of their players can help lead you to a championship in your fantasy league.
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