The 2008 Florida Marlins are partying like it is 2003—like it is 1997, as a matter of fact.
The Florida Marlins, who were projected by many experts to be the worst team in baseball during spring training, have shocked the baseball with their 53-47 record through July 22, with a payroll of barely over $22 million, by far the lowest in MLB.
But the question that nation is asking is: who are the Florida Marlins?
Who are their main contributors on offense? Who have been their studs on the pitching mound so far this year? Just why are these overachievers are so good?
Lets just say that they did not need Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera or Johan Santana to get to this elite level. They just needed their very productive offensive players to come through like they have.
When you think Florida Marlins, you think Hanley Ramirez. The 24-year-old came with Anibal Sanchez from Boston for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell in the pre-2006 s fire sale prior to the 2006 season, has once again this proven this year that both teams are satisfied with this trade.
While Beckett and Lowell have proven to be crucial studs for Boston, Hanley Ramirez has risen to superstardom in the smaller market of Miami.
After winning NL ROY in 2006, and batting a mind-boggling .332, along with 29 home runs and 81 RBI from the leadoff spot in 2007, Ramirez has added to his small legacy in Miami. He is batting .301 with 23 home runs, 45 RBI, and 23 SB's from the leadoff spot through July 22.
While Ramirez has anchored the offense, the likes of all-star Dan Uggla, former Tampa Bay star Jorge Cantu, New Mexico native Cody Ross, former first-round pick Jeremy Hermida, and former New York Mets prospect Mike Jacobs have also added punch to this lineup.
Dan Uggla, 28, whose meltdown at the 2008 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium does not tell the story of his season, has been an extremely important figure for this young Florida team so far this season.
Uggla, who leads Florida with 24 home runs, has been hitting home run after home run for Florida this year.
From second base to the hot corner, former Tampa Bay second basemen Jorge Cantu has really revived his once very promising career in Miami. After racking an impressive 117 RBI for Tampa Bay in 2005, Cantu was not even the starting second baseman for Tampa Bay coming out of spring training in 2007.
After a brief stint with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, Cantu signed with Florida in the last offseason. Florida, desperate for a starting third basemen following the departure of Miguel Cabrera, turned this former star to be their starting third basemen, and he has certainly been more than Florida could have expected.
Cantu is batting .287 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI. Cantu is just another example of how dangerous Florida is on offense. That is why it might be 1997 and 2003 again in Miami.