Marlins Power Rankings Roundup: Week 9
Below is a graph of where the Marlins have ranked over the course of the season.
And here is what Power Rankers are saying about the Marlins this week:
Marlins ranked 17th - "Coming into Sunday, the Braves were 5-0 versus Miami and 9-34 against all other teams. In each of the first five games, Miami had taken the early lead, only to watch the games slip away. A seven-game home stand is up next, but the Marlins are only 10-13 there so far this year."
Marlins ranked 16th - "Coming into this season, seven of the 10 oldest players in baseball were pitchers. It’s easier to keep going when you’re a slop-throwing lefty relief specialist or an alien from whatever planet brings unlimited joy. But for position players, it’s a much tougher battle. Maintaining the kind of athleticism you need to keep putting up playable numbers is a tough task. To do so while also playing better-than-average defense is damn near impossible. In fact, only one of those 10 oldest players regularly takes the field, as opposed to DHing most of the time: the man, the myth, the legend … Ichiro.
At age 42, Ichiro is the second-oldest player in the majors, behind only Bartolo Colon. To succeed, he relies on baseball skills that are very much the dominion of younger men: bat speed, agility and quick reflexes. By WAR, Ichiro’s on pace for his best showing since 2012—since ‘10 if we go on a per at-bat basis. His .317 batting average and .385 on-base percentage are his best since 2009. When it comes to controlling the strike zone, this is best version of Ichiro we’ve ever seen: No National League player with as many times at bat has struck out less often than he has, and no player in either league owns a better walk-to-strikeout rate. A bunch of underlying indicators suggest that this isn’t a fluke. Ichiro’s making more hard contact, hitting more line drives, swinging through pitches less often and swinging at pitches out of the zone less often than he has in many years.
Of course the biggest factor of all, as with Fernando Rodney’s sparkling start, is probably sample size. Ichiro is the Marlins’ fourth outfielder, which means Don Mattingly might be more inclined to give him playing time when the conditions are just right for an appearance. On the other hand, we’ve seen Ichiro paste opposing pitching when forced into action due to teammates’ injuries, like he did May 23 by banging out four hits against the Rays. Bottom line: When he plays, he hits.
The Marlins have been surprisingly competitive this year, and for them to stay within striking distance of the front-running Nationals and Mets, they’ll need lineup mainstays Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich healthy and in the lineup. That, in turn, shunts Ichiro back to the bench. But the best teams offer a combination of front-line talent and superior depth, and while players like Cal Ripken, Jr. and Craig Biggio hurt their teams on the field in pursuit of records and milestones, the opposite holds true for Ichiro. Marlins fans aren’t merely rooting for their ageless wonder outfielder to get in the lineup so he can rack up the 39 hits he has left to reach 3,000 on this side of the Pacific. They want him in there because even after these years, Ichiro can still bring it."
Marlins ranked 16th - "First opponent to lose a home series in Atlanta."
Marlins ranked 17th - "The Miami Marlins remain a potentially dangerous team capable of making a serious climb up these rankings if all of the pieces fall into place, but that has yet to happen.
A series loss to the Atlanta Braves effectively cancelled out taking three of four from the Tampa Bay Rays, and they remain at the No. 17 spot for now, 3.5 games back in the NL East.
For all of the attention heaped on Giancarlo Stanton and, to a lesser extent, Christian Yelich, it's center fielder Marcell Ozuna who has been the team's best outfielder and best all-around offensive player this year. The 25-year-old is hitting .344/.392/.598 with 10 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 27 RBI.
Those numbers are impressive enough on their own, but his month of May has been otherworldly: .434/.469/.745 with 17 extra-base hits and 25 runs scored.
"He had a good spring and a rough start in which he tried too hard early on," manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. "But he’s capable of this. This is not just [that] he’s hot. I think this is something he can do regularly.""