The Miami Marlins wound up having a disappointing 2021 season after making the expanded 2020 postseason. Don Mattingly won the National League Manager of the Year and Miami went 31-29, going on to face the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card series. But then this year, they just couldn’t put it all together for the full season. It was Kim Ng’s first year as the first female General Manager in the history of all four major American professional sports.
The season was a learning curve while a number of players had their seasons cut short due to injuries. Right-hander Pablo Lopez missed most of the second half with a right rotator cuff strain. First baseman Jesus Aguilar dealt with left knee inflammation and was out since September 8, before undergoing surgery on September 27. Utility man Jon Berti sustained a laceration on the back of his head after taking a pitch to the head on July 22. He would miss the rest of the season. Third baseman Brian Anderson underwent surgery to repair his left shoulder capsule on September 14, after he aggrevated the shoulder on August 31 diving for a ball. Catcher Jorge Alfaro, right-handers Edward Cabrera and Paul Campbell, outfielder Jesus Sanchez, and left-hander Sean Guenther all missed time with various injuries.
The Marlins’ front office led by owner Derek Jeter knew it was a lost season at the trade deadline, as they were well under .500. In the week leading up to the trade deadline, the fish made four separate trades, parting ways with outfielders Starling Marte and Adam Duvall, and right-handers Yimi Garcia and John Curtiss. In return in the trades, the Marlins received lefty Jesus Luzardo, outfielder Bryan De La Cruz, righty Austin Pruitt, and catchers Alex Jackson and Payton Henry. The biggest return was Luzardo, who was a former first overall prospect with the Oakland Athletics, and can turn into a formidable arm for Miami.
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Manager: Don Mattingly
Position: Fourth in NL East
Postseason: Missed Playoffs
Jazz Chisholm had a great rookie season for the Marlins. The former fourth-ranked prospect slashed .248/.303/.425 with 18 homers, 23 stolen bases, and a 98 wRC+. The 23-year-old had his share of struggles. He really needs to work on his defense, as he had minus-4 outs above average and a minus-2.6 ulimate zone rating. But overall, he has a lot that he can build on after threatening for a 20-20 season.
The reality is, the Marlins were snakebit by the injuries. They weren’t able to bounce back like they did last season with the COVID issues. Marte had been their most valuable player before they traded him, as the 32-year-old had a 3.4 fWAR and a 138 wRC+ in 64 games prior to the trade. He was also one of their best defensive players, as he had five OAA and a 4.9 UZR.
Miami was one of the worst offensive teams in the league, ranking 27th in wRC+ (84), 28th in average (.233) 29th in ISO (.139) and OPS (.671), and dead last with as strikeout-to-walk rate of 0.29. They were a much better pitching team, as they ranked eighth with a 4.01 FIP, 14th with a 1.28 WHIP, and 15th with a 4.17 SIERA.
Most Valuable Player: Sandy Alcantara
Alcantara led the team with a 4.2 fWAR and had a career season. He made a career-high 33 starts and eclipsed 200 innings pitched with 205 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old was a constant in the pitching staff and remained consistent throughout the season.
Starting Pitcher of the Year: Sandy Alcantara
Over his 33 starts, Alcantara posted a 3.19 ERA, 3.42 FIP, and a 0.92 HR/9 rate. He struck out 201 batters over his 205 2/3 innings, good for a 24 percent strikeout rate.
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Dylan Floro
The Marlins’ bullpen was the best part of their team, with Floro leading the charge. He had a 2.81 ERA and FIP, 23 percent strikeout rate, and led relievers with a 1.5 fWAR. In 68 games, the 30-year-old pitched 64 innings while surrendering 70.5 percent of runners on base. Floro was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason and he turned out to be a big pickup.
Best Hitter of the Year: Jesus Aguliar
Before missing the final month of the season, Aguilar paced the offense over 131 games. The first baseman led the team with 93 RBI and was tied with Duvall with 22 homers. The 31-year-old also had a .788 OPS, 112 wRC+, and 1.2 fWAR.
Best Fielder of the Year: Lewin Diaz
Despite playing just 40 games, Diaz had eight DRS at first base. After Aguliar’s injury, the 24-year-old got consistent playing time at first. If he had played the full season, his eight DRS paced him as the league leaders. He also had four OAA and was rated as slightly better than a replacement level player with a 0.7 bWAR.
Comeback Player of the Year: Trevor Rogers
Rogers had an unbelievable rookie season and could certainly be a finialist for NL Rookie of the Year. It came after he had a shaky first seven starts in the shortened 2020 season. Last year, the southpaw held a 6.11 ERA, 4.33 FIP, and 1.607 WHIP in his first taste of major league action. The stuff was there, as the then 22-year-old struck out 39 in 28 innings. In 2021, he led all Miami starters in ERA (2.64), FIP (2.55), fWAR (4.2), and strikeout rate (28.5%) in 25 starts.
The Marlins have an uncertain offseason ahead of them and they will really need to make drastic changes. With their hitting needing to drastically improve, they can use their starting pitching depth in the majors and farm system to trade for some bats. Outfield is a big need, so they can look at guys like Byron Buxton, Ketel Marte, and Whit Merrifield. The Marlins already announced that the contracts of their training staff will not be renewed, so their will be major overhaul in that front after all the injuries.
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