Are the Florida Marlins Sleepers in the NL East?

Sergio ValdezContributor IIMarch 24, 2009

PORT ST LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Manager Fredi Gonzalez #33 of the Florida Marlins sits on the bench during batting practice before taking on the New York Mets during a spring training game at Tradition Field on February 26, 2009 in Port St Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Marlins 9-0.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The Marlins had an up and down year last season, finishing with an 84-77 record, good for third place in the NL East.


Top Performers

Hanley Ramirez - .301/.400/.540, 122/92 K/BB, 33 HR, 35/47 SB
Dan Uggla - .260/.360/.514, 171/71 K/BB, 32 HR, 5/10 SB
Chris Volstad - 84 IP, 2.88 ERA, 148 ERA+, 1.33 WHIP, 52/36 K/BB
Jorge Cantu - .277/.327/.481, 111/40 K/BB, 29 HR, 6/8 SB
Ricky Nolasco - 212 IP, 3.52 ERA, 186/42 K/BB, 1.10 WHIP, 121 ERA+

Biggest Disappointment(s)

Jeremy Hermida - .249/.323/.406, 138/48 K/BB, 17 HR, 6/7 SB
The pitching staff outside of Volstad and Nolasco.


Biggest Plus(es)

Their offense. It's very potent, and they have a lot of pop in that lineup.


Biggest Concern(s)

Health. The Marlins had several key players out with injuries in '08, which definitely hurt their chances at success.


Key Additions

Dan Meyer, Emilio Bonifacio, Leo Nunez


Key Losses

Scott Olsen, Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs, Arthur Rhodes


Breakout Candidate(s)

Gaby Sanchez. If he gets the starting job at 1st, he can put up some good numbers.
Andrew Miller. I believe he will live up to the hype, and he will do good things for the Marlins this season.

Matt Lindstrom. It'll be his first year as closer, but this 100-mph fireballer has the stuff. He just needed the opportunity, and he's got it now. He's THE key pitcher in that 'pen.


Key(s) to Success

Stay healthy. The Marlins had various players go on the DL the past couple years, hurting mainly their pitching staff. If everybody can just stay healthy, they might have the best team on paper in that division. It's a big if.

They also need consistent offense from guys like Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla. Those guys had good years overall, but really struggled at different times during the season. If those guys can stay solid consistently, it would be a huge boost.


Projected Starters

C: John Baker
1B: Gaby Sanchez
2B: Dan Uggla
SS: Hanley Ramirez
3B: Jorge Cantu
LF: Cody Ross
CF: Cameron Maybin
RF: Jeremy Hermida


Projected Rotation

Ricky Nolasco
Josh Johnson
Chris Volstad
Anibal Sanchez
Andrew Miller


Projected Bullpen

RP: Scott Proctor
RP: Leo Nunez
RP: Taylor Tankersley
RP: Logan Kensing
SU: Renyel Pinto
CL: Matt Lindstrom


2009 Projection


I expect everything to click for the Marlins, and this young team will emerge as a serious contender in the NL East. They should take the Mets and Phillies by surprised.


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