Florida Marlins Midseason Report Card

Daniel ZylberkanCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2009

MIAMI - MAY 23:  Shortstop Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins stand on the first baseline after grounding out against the San Francisco Giants at Dolphin Stadium on May 23, 2008 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

This is one of the biggest cliches in sports journalism and commentary, but I need to use it regardless. The baseball season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon, over a 162-game season both the fans and the team itself, finds out a lot about how a baseball season plays out.

The Marlins season can be divided into three distinct and different phases. The first phase was the unbelievable and clearly unsustainable 11-1 start to the season. The second phase is from the middle of April to the end of June, a stretch where an 11-1 record became 23-28 at the end of May and one point the team was six games under the .500 mark.

June has been an overall very positive month for the team with the team going from the five under mark to making it to a winning record in yesterday's game against the Baltimore Orioles.

June has also been memorable because the Marlins have been playing the mighty American League East in Interleague play. The AL East is probably the best division in baseball and to do what the Marlins have done against them is pretty amazing.

Sweeping the amazingly gifted Toronto Blue Jays, taking one game of three in Fenway is no easy feat and finally taking two of three from the Bronx Bombers, with Burnett, Pettite and Sabathia going is pretty amazing.

Speed is back to the Florida Marlins line-up, because of one man. Emilio Bonifacio, the man who can create havoc on the base paths and score runs out of thin air. He doesn't get on base enough, but when he does good things happen.

The middle of the order—Hanley, Cantu, and Uggla—has had its ups downs, but Ramirez is hitting well with runners in scoring position and Cantu/Uggla have been consistent contributors to the teams success.

This is the first year, that Hanley, hitting exclusively has shown his true skill as run producer. He has more than 50 RBI before the All Star break and he's on pace for a 100 RBI season.

Maybe he won't win the MVP, but he certainly deserves it. He's also become a better defensive player and isn't a liability in the field anymore. So to sum up. [chanting] "MVP MVP MVP MVP!!"

I think the surprise of the year is Cody Ross, the few past years with the Fish, Ross has always gone on streaks. Sometimes he's hot and can hit nothing but home runs and then the following week, he would nothing but strike out. 

But this year Ross has become a real consistent player.  It's the end of June and he's hitting in the .280s, that would have never happened a few years ago.

Chris Coghlan's and John Baker's consistency has been a nice change from the classic inconsistency of Jeremy Hermida and the catchers from Miguel Olivo, Mike Rabelo, and others in the past couple of seasons.

In baseball, and especially in the National League, a solid 1-9 lineup is almost impossible to come about, but the Florida Marlins come awfully close to doing so, except for Bonifacio on some nights, Hermida and Paulino.

The starting rotation has been good not as good as advertised from the pre season hype but good nonetheless.

Josh Johnson is an ace, one of the best pitchers in the league, a dominant pitcher who stops losing streaks, keeps the team in games, and most importantly leads by example.

Ricky Nolasco's season has been a tale of two seasons, he started and he couldn't throw strikes and whenever he did they were high and extremely hittable. Then he got sent down to sort out his issues and since he's returned he has been like the Ricky of last year.

Andrew Miller has slowed develop in to a very good left handed starter a great middle of the rotation guy, not a Cy Young winner but a guy that will get an ERA around 4.00 throw strikes keep the team in the game, in the end, the trade for Miller will benefit both the Marlins and Tigers.

The other guys, Sanchez, Taylor, West, and Volstad. Have tried their best to shore up the rotation, inconsistency has been a problem for these young pitchers. But I've seen flashes of brilliance in West and Volstad. 

The Bullpen has been admittedly the weak point of the team. Lindstrom hasn't been able to consistently finish games, he's wild and doesn't have a closer's mentality. Once he lets a man on base he gets rattled and gives up the game.

Meyer, Nunez, and Calero have been much better, but they're still not amazing shut down relievers.  The mid-season call ups like Tim Wood and Brian Sanches have been amazingly good and are a credit to the team.

After 82 games, the Marlins are only one game out of first in the NL East and three games out of the wild card. If the bullpen gets more consistent and the pitching doesn't give out, the fish could be able to win the division or the wild card and make the playoffs.

Once a team is in the playoffs anything is possible, as unlikely as it may be if the Marlins make the playoffs they could win it all. But I wouldn't bet on it.