2020 Fantasy Baseball: Miami Marlins Team Preview

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Miami Marlins

Over the last two seasons, the Marlins drew only 811,104 and 811,302 fans while finishing in last place in the NL East both years (63-98 and 57-105). They’ve missed the playoffs over the previous 16 seasons, which came after picking up two World Series titles (1997 and 2003) in the team first 11 years in baseball. Miami doesn’t have any other postseason appearances in the team’s 27-year history.

In 2020, the Marlins made some changes to the dimensions of their ballpark. Their field will now have a synthetic turf instead of natural grass while the fences in centerfield and right centerfield have been moved in by 12 feet.

Miami ranked second to last in the majors in runs (615), last in home runs (149), and 29th in RBI (593), which was an improvement over the 2018 season (589/128/554). They finished 20th in ERA (4.74) with 27 saves.

In the offseason, they traded for 2B/SS Jonathan Villar to add speed to the top of the batting order. The Marlins signed OF Corey Dickerson, C Francisco Cervelli, and OF Matt Joyce for veteran depth while also claiming Jesus Aguilar off waivers from Tampa. Miami also took a flier OF Matt Kemp in a minor-league deal.

On the pitching side, the Marlins invested in pair of bullpen arms – RP Brandon Kintzler and RP Yimi Garcia while taking a shot on RP Sterling Sharp in the Rule 5 Draft.

This franchise has been stripped down with the idea of rebuilding within the draft. Once Miami has the foundation of a winning pitching staff and a couple of core batters, they can start adding the missing piece in the free agency market. Unfortunately, 2020 looks like another long season with a boatload of losses.

Starting Lineup

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1. SS Jonathan Villar

Villar played in every game last year, which led to career-highs in at-bats (642), runs (111), hits (176), home runs (24), RBI (73). His CTBA (.376) pushed higher for the second year in a row, but his strikeout rate (24.7) has risk with a slightly better than league average walk rate (8.5). 

Villar also had growth in his AVH (1.653) with a career-high in RBI chances (370). He played the best against righties (.280 with 15 HRs and 48 RBI over 415 at-bats) while holding his own vs. left-handed pitching (.264 with nine HRs and 25 RBI over 227 at-bats). His best play came in August (.333 with seven HRs, 15 RBI, and nine SBs over 105 at-bats), helping him to a productive second half (.291 with 14 HRs, 36 RBI, and 23 SBs over 302 at-bats). 

Even with a bump in power (24 HRs), Villar ranked 227th in hard-hit rate (37.1) thanks to an improved swing path (fly-ball rate – 31.3 – 24.4 in 2018 and 25.4 in his career). His HR/FB rate (16.7) fell short of his previous three seasons (19.6, 19.0, and 17.9). 

Last year he finished with the fourth-highest value in SIscore (8.38) with most of his edge coming from the stolen base category (6.70). His success last year supports his ADP (38), but his stats have to drop by 20 percent in runs and RBI with regression expected as well in power in Miami. 

Only a .250 hitter in 2020 with 90 runs, 18 home runs, 60 RBI, and 40-plus steals or a different version of Victor Robles who gets drafted 30 picks later while playing in a better lineup.

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2. 3B Brian Anderson

I came into 2019 with the idea of Anderson being a viable back-end third base option in deep leagues. After seven weeks (.227 with seven runs, two HRs, and 12 RBI over 163 at-bats), I struggled to make a case for him going forward while looking for help in the free-agent pool. In one waiver-wire article at this point of the year, I made even made the case of a hot run in 2018 over 82 games (.298 with 50 runs, seven HRs, and 36 RBI over 325 at-bats). 

Sure enough, Anderson had a correction over his next 41 games (.286 with 28 runs, nine HRs, 28 RBI over 164 at-bats) with follow-through over 36 games after the All-Star break (.293 with 21 runs, nine HRs, and 27 RBI over 140 at-bats). His season ended with five weeks to go due to a broken finger on his left hand. Anderson finished with a league-average approach (strikeout rate – 21.9 and walk rate – 8.5). His AVH (1.972) pushed higher while losing a tick off his CTBA (.348). 

He needs improvement against lefties (.232 with six HRs and 12 RBI over 112 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (45.7) ranked 48th in baseball. Anderson had a better swing path (ground ball rate – 45.4 and 51.8 in 2018), which led to him almost doubling his rookie season HR/FB rate (16.3 – 8.3 in 2018). With an ADP of 246, he looks poised to become a .275 hitter with an 80/25/85/5 skill set.

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3. OF Corey Dickerson

Four games into the 2019 season, Dickerson landed on the injured list for nine weeks with a right shoulder injury. His bat was well worth the wait over his next 74 games (.313 with 32 runs, 11 HRs, and 57 RBI over 247 at-bats), but he ended the year with 19 more missed games with a broken left foot. 

Despite 12 home runs in a half year of playing time, Dickerson had a rebound in his AVH (1.861) and a massive RBI rate (25). His CTBA (.387) beat his 2017 season (.381). Even with success last year, Dickerson didn’t have over 90 at-bats in any month while not being dead in the water against left-handed pitching (.271 with three HRs and 15 RBI over 59 at-bats). His HR/FB rate (15.0) came below his top two seasons (19.5 and 17.2). He ranked 277th in hard-hit rate (34.8). 

Better than a platoon hitter, but we need to see Miami commit to him against lefties. My early thought is 500 at-bats with a .280 BA with 70 runs, 25 home runs, and 75 RBI.

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4. 1B Jesus Aguilar

Before 2017, Aguilar struggled to make an impact in the Indians’ system leading to three stalled years at AAA. His quest for the majors led to him trading batting average (.304) in 2014 at AAA for home runs in 2016 (30). Overall at AAA, he hit .271 over 1,452 at-bats with 68 HRs and 262 RBI. 

The Brewers used him off the bench in 2017, which led to a lovely season (16 HRs and 52 RBI) for his short at-bats (279). In 2018, an early-season injury to Marcus Thames led to a starting opportunity with the Brewers, and a breakthrough year (.274 with 35 HRs and 108 RBI). Last season Milwaukee gave Aguilar almost seven weeks to reprove himself, but he only hit .202 with 12 runs, three home runs, and 21 RBI over 124 at-bats.

In a rotational role over the next third of the season, his bat improved (.255 with 14 runs, five HRs, and 13 RBI over 98 at-bats). Aguilar never was able to seize a full-time even after a trade to Tampa (.261 with 13 runs, four HRs, and 16 RBI over 92 at-bats). His CTBA (.318) was well below his previous two seasons (.400 and .387) with a lousy step back in his AVH (1.649 – 1.963 in 2018). 

Even with regression in play, Aguilar did have an improvement in his approach (strikeout rate – 22.0 and walk rate – 11.7). His HR/FB rate (13.2) came in well below 2017 (22.5) and 2018 (23.8). 

Overall, his resume is short of success, but he still looks good enough to win the starting first base job for Miami. Viable DH option in deep leagues with an ADP of 353. Aguilar has 30-plus home run upside with a rebound in his thought process and confidence.

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5. OF Matt Kemp

The Reds lost Kemp 20 games into 2019 due to a broken rib. After being released in early May, the Mets picked up him up, but he wasn’t healthy. Miami signed Kemp to a minor league deal in December. 

Here’s how he looked going into the 2019 season: 

Other than struggling with runs (eight) in May and batting average (.220) in June, Kemp was a very good late draft pick in 2018 from the start of the year until July 23rd (.318 with 47 runs, 17 HRs, and 63 RBI over 314 at-bats). He slumped over the next month (.137 with one HR and six RBI over 73 at-bats), leading to lost playing time and a semi bench role over the last 40 days of the season (.320 with three HRs and 16 RBI over 75 at-bats). Kemp played well against right-handed pitching (.301 with ten HRs and 53 RBI over 279 at-bats) while being very productive vs. lefties (.273 with 11 HRs and 32 RBI over 183 at-bats). Both his strikeout rate (22.7) and walk rate (7.1) fell in his with his career path. Kemp had a healthy line drive rate (26.8) with a rise in his fly-ball rate (38.1), but he did lose some value in his HR/FB rate (15.6 – 19.8 in 2017 and 16.6 in his career). 

This season he’ll try to reinvent his career in Miami. Kemp has a long resume of success with a proven middle of the order bat. Possible value player if the spring reports about his playing time are favorable.

To view the full starting lineup, which also includes player analysis for Harold Ramirez, Jorge Alfaro, Isan Diaz, Jon Berti, Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra, Francisco Cervelli, Garrett Cooper, Miguel Rojas, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Miami Marlins Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

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SP1 Caleb Smith

Based on batting average against (.223) and strikeout rate (9.9), Smith had the look of a much better pitcher in 2019. His WHIP (1.226) didn’t match his ERA (4.52). He led the National League in home runs allowed (33 – 1.9 per nine). Smith still has a high walk rate (3.5) even with some improvement. 

Over his first 16 starts, he posted a 3.30 ERA, .193 BAA, and 110 strikeouts over 90 innings while missing most of June with a hip injury. Smith allowed four runs or more in eight of his final 12 starts, leading to a 6.25 ERA and 17 home runs over 63.1 innings. Even with success against right-handed batters (.227), he gave up 29 home runs to them over 440 at-bats. His AFB (91.8) was well below 2018 (93.3). 

Batters hit .210 against his four-seamer while offering a slider (.224 BAA) of value. He lost the feel of his changeup (.257 BAA). Over the last two seasons, Smith pitched up in the strike zone (fly ball rate – 52 and 50.8 in 2018). His ADP (227) places him as the 92nd pitcher off the board. 

There is plenty of intrigue with more value strikeouts with a full season of starts. Many fantasy owners will focus on the good innings while his dark side may be the force that drives him in 2020. 

Real coin flip for me as his sliding fastball disappears over the fence too many times to ignore. Here are some stats to think about: Smith allowed seven home runs on the first pitch, 11 home runs when trailing 1-0 in the count, and 15 home runs when ahead 0-1 in the count.

Fantasy Baseball Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins
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SP2 Sandy Alcantara

Alcantara ended up being a liability for fantasy teams in 2019, thanks to a low number of wins (6) and WHIP risk (1.318). He finished with 151 strikeouts, but his strikeout rate (6.9) came in short. Alcantara allowed two runs or fewer in 17 of his 32 starts. 

His downside came from disaster games (24 runs and 40 baserunners over 21.2 innings). He struggled more against lefties (.253 with 16 home runs over 403 at-bats). Alcantara has plus fastball (95.9) while offering three pitches of value (four-seam – .239, sinker – .233, and slider – .232 BAA). He also has a changeup (.274 BAA) with upside. 

Over five seasons in the minors, Alcantara went 23-32 with a 3.94 ERA and 461 strikeouts over 496 innings. His biggest obstacle remains his command (walk rate – 3.7). 

This season he should make a massive step forward. Pencil him in for 200-plus innings with a push toward 175 strikeouts and growth in his ERA and WHIP. His ADP is 260 in the early draft season.

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SP3 Pablo Lopez

Lopez took a major pasting on May 10th (ten runs and 12 baserunners over three innings), which led to a big hole in his ERA and WHIP to start the year. Over his first 14 starts, he had 4.23 ERA and 73 strikeouts over 76.2 innings (3.17 ERA without his lousy start). Lopez missed ten weeks with a right shoulder issue. 

When he returned in late August, Lopez didn’t look the same over his final seven starts (7.01 ERA, 1.214 WHIP, and seven home runs over 34.2 innings). His arm had significant issues with lefties (.303 with nine HRs over 218 at-bats) as well as on the road (7.36 ERA). He had growth in his fastball (94.0), but it lacked value (four-seam – .279 BAA and sinker – .307 BAA). Both his changeup (.226 BAA) and curveball (.210 BAA) offered an edge. 

Over his six seasons in the minors, Lopez had a 3.14 ERA and 323 strikeouts over 410.1 innings. His walk rate (2.2) had growth with a slight uptick in his strikeout rate (7.7). 

The key here is the growth in command of his fastball in the strike zone. With a clean report on his shoulder in spring training, Lopez should push toward a 3.50 ERA and 150-plus strikeouts.

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CL/RP Jose Urena

Urena didn’t get it done in 2019, which came after going 23-19 with a 3.90 ERA and 243 strikeouts over his previous 343.2 innings. He had three disaster games (15 runs and 29 baserunners over 13.2 innings with ten Ks) to start 2019. Urena pitched great over his next nine starts (2.95 ERA and 39 Ks over 58 innings). 

After a poor showing on June 7th (six runs and 12 baserunners over three innings), he landed on the injured list for 12 weeks with a back injury (herniated disk). Miami moved him into the closer role in September, but his arm had too many blow-up games (9.00 ERA and 1.700 WHIP over ten innings with 11 Ks). Urena converted three of his five save chances. His AFB (95.3) has much more life than his career strikeout rate (6.1) shows. 

When at his best in 2017 and 2018, he flashed two winning secondary pitches (slider and changeup). The key for him keeping a closer job will be solving left-handed batters (2017 – .237 with 11 HRs, 33 walks, and 38 Ks over 300 at-bats and 2018 – .255 with 14 HRs, 25 walks, and 63 Ks over 353 at-bats). His ADP (554) looks almost like a layup if he does indeed earn the closing job. I’d like to see more strikes thrown (walk rate – 3.1 in his career and 2.8 in 2019), and fewer home runs allowed (1.2 per nine in his career) before pushing all in as closing arm. 

Right kind of flier for saves as his fastball and combination of secondary pitches will play better over short innings.

To view the full pitching staff, which also includes player analysis for Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez, Sixto Sanchez, Robert Dugger, Nick Neidert, Ryne Stanek, Jeff Brigham, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Miami Marlins Team Outlook