Fish Stepping Up To the Plate

The Marlins season is not going exactly as planned by the front office, but certain players are stepping up in their roles and making up for various downfalls.

Miami solved its infield conundrum by inking Jose Reyes for six years this offseason. Not only was the third base void filled by shifting Hanley Ramirez, but Reyes’ addition settled uncertainty regarding the top of the batting order. But Jose Reyes has not been getting on base as often as most would appreciate. In April, his OBP was under .300, and it showed in the team’s record. However, the record may have been even worse had Emilio Bonifacio not risen to the challenge.

Bonifacio’s OBP is currently .333, but his biggest contribution has been on the base paths. With 17 stolen bases this season without getting caught, along with 16 runs, he is the catalyst of Miami’s offense. Boni has 31 hits this year, all singles except for one double. That’s fine, however, because of his stolen base efficiency and his ability to go first-to-third on any hit to center or right field. Making up for Reyes’ slump, Bonifacio has solidified his starting role.

The Marlins used to be on of the top home run-hitting teams in the league. Unfortunately, power has not come out thus far. Gaby Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Logan Morrison, the top three home run hitters on the team last season, combined for 4 home runs in April. That figure may be especially small due to the big new stadium, but it shouldn’t be THAT low. Doing his part, Omar Infante put his team on his back by hitting 5 homers in April. He hit 7 all of last year.

Infante is also hitting .330 and has 66 total bases. Ozzie Guillen has hit him in both the top and the bottom of the order, but Infante has been consistent wherever he hits. When Omar started laying off the longball this month, Stanton heated up, but Morrison and Sanchez are still without their power strokes.

The biggest let down thus far has been the closer role. Heath Bell was signed for three years to be the team’s shutdown closer, but Bell has blown 4 of 7 save chances and has 3 losses on the season. Steve Cishek stepped up and has thrown 16 innings in relief this year. He has 4 wins, and opposing batters are hitting under the Mendoza line against him.

In the rotation, Josh Johnson has not even come close to looking like his old self, and Mark Buehrle is just 2-4. But Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez have shut down opposing teams, and their combined record is 6-1, compared to the 2-7 mark of Johnson and Buehrle. My hope is that both Buehrle and Johnson are merely in slumps and still have prime years ahead of them.

The Marlins opened the 2012 season with high expectations, but slumped in April. The team has picked up some slack in May, at least so far, utilizing a nice combination of veteran production and young talent. The Fish who have stepped up to the plate so far are looking to carry their nice seasons into the summer months.

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