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Miami Marlins Season Preview: Another Lowly Year for MLB's Forgotten Franchise

Editor's note: Welcome to SI's MLB preview. Click here to view every team's outlook in 2020, including predictions, projections and, yes, a preview of the 2030 preview. Click here to read the Marlins fantasy preview.

We pick on the Mariners a lot, as the team with the longest playoff drought, dating back to 2001. The Marlins get less attention for being second on that list, having missed the postseason every year since their ’03 title.

Two years after jettisoning two MVP outfielders (Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich) the Marlins don’t seem any closer to making the playoffs or even to generating excitement. They lost 105 games in ’19, finishing last in the NL in runs and last in the majors in homers. They also finished last in attendance, drawing 811,302.

Are there reasons for fans to return in ’20? Not many, though the team has tried to get better, trading for Jonathan Villar to play third base, picking up first baseman Jesús Aguilar, signing Corey Dickerson to patrol leftfield and adding Brandon Kintzler to collect saves. These moves might keep Miami from another 100-loss season but they pale in comparison with what the rest of the division has done.

Things look rosier on the mound, where the Marlins could go the whole year without starting a single pitcher who has reached 30. Their young arms, led by All-Star righthander Sandy Alcantara, are largely low-ceiling, No. 4 starter–types, but top prospect Sixto Sanchez will arrive shortly to bring some sizzle to the group.

The Marlins simply haven’t drafted wisely or scouted well internationally.
Five of their top seven prospects, per Baseball America, were acquired via trade. The last Miami first-round pick to play a game for the team was the late pitcher
José Fernández, drafted in 2011.

Until the Marlins develop MLB-caliber players or spend the money to acquire them, they’ll continue to be forgotten. — Joe Sheehan

Projected Record: 67-95, 5th in NL East

MLB’s woebegone franchise brought in a few veteran bats and has a young rotation with some promise, but it will continue to reside far from contention.

Key Question: Will Derek Jeter Be the Marlins' Best Hitter?

The Hall of Fame inductee has been out of uniform for five seasons, though it’s hard to bet against his 3,465 career hits. Four Marlins players with at least 100 plate appearances last year batted under .200, one of them being Isan Diaz, their projected starting second baseman for 2020. — Matt Martell 

Player Spotlight

Moving Up: Caleb Smith, SP

The lefty starter struck out 26.0% of the batters he faced, though too many of the others went deep: Smith gave up an NL-leading 33 home runs.

Moving Down: Lewis Brinson, OF

Once a top prospect, the 25-year-old centerfielder has hit .183 in 709 career plate appearances. It’s time for the team to move on. 

Watchability Ranking: Keep a Hand on the Remote

This rotation could be a blast. Caleb Smith has strikeouts aplenty, Sandy Alcantara offers a tantalizing arsenal, and Jordan Yamamoto is fresh off a promising rookie season. Of course, there’s sufficient variance among all these pitchers for this rotation to be… very much not a blast. And the offense, upgraded as it may be, could easily derail the whole thing. But still! It could be a blast, and that’s more than can be said for some other teams. — Emma Baccellieri

Preview of the 2030 Preview

Derek Jeter, SS: The shortstop many called the Michael Jordan of baseball (Jumpman moment included) might have taken the moniker too far. Inspired by Marvel's pulling Hugh Jackman out of retirement for yet another Wolverine movie and hoping to stave off a hostile takeover from A-Rod once more—Jeter, 55, left his CEO role to join his troops on the field. Perhaps by unretiring he can win over that one Hall of Fame voter and retroactively get a unanimous Cooperstown induction? — Craig Goldstein