The passing of Miami Marlins starter Jose Fernandez was one of the most shocking events in baseball history. His presence on and off the field will be virtually impossible to replace, and the season had an extremely negative end. Despite this, Miami’s return to contention was the end result, with a taste of winning also a bi-product of the 2016 campaign. The likes of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and J.T. Realmuto all had moments of excellence, with the latter two’s stars shining the brightest. All-in-all, this made the Marlins 2016 season a net positive.
The Miami Marlins 2016 Season: A Net Positive
The frenetic seasons that preceded the 2016 campaign had been ones of hope for Ozuna. However, under the tutelage of Barry Bonds, the young outfielder found his stride for some time. Heading into the All-Star break, the consternation surrounding Ozuna wore off. One of Miami’s 25-year-olds made his first midsummer classic, thanks to his over-.300 batting average. This past season saw Ozuna tie his career-high in home runs, and was nine RBI off his career-high, in five fewer games. The Dominican Republic native also hit bench marks in walks and OPS. He also moved from center field to left near the end of the season, switching spots with Yelich.
The aforementioned Yelich had his breakout season in 2016, setting career-highs in 11 standard offensive categories, including hits, home runs, RBI, OBP, slugging, and OPS, the latter of which rose from .782 to .859. Yelich was a pair of RBI and batting average points away from reaching 100 and .300, respectively. As previously mentioned, the former Gold Glover moved to a premium defensive position in center field, playing 258 innings there. His WAR went from 3.5 to 5.3, a team-high, with his offensive WAR increasing by two wins from 2015. For the large majority of the season, the 24-year-old spent time in the three hole, batting in front of Martin Prado. During some portions of the season, the two were both bumped down a spot.
Just a few years ago, the catching situation in Miami looked like a California lawn during the drought. However, J.T. Realmuto changed that. Realmuto replaced Jarrod Saltalamacchia during the 2015 season as the starting catcher in South Florida. Realmuto set career-highs in ever single standard offensive category outside of triples. The .44 point jump to .303 Realmuto’s batting average saw was by no means a surprise to Marlins brass. During his rookie season, Realmuto was second on the team in hard-hit balls, as the organization calls it. It’s also named quality of contact. He trailed only Yelich and Prado in WAR among batters. The 25-year old also was preceded only by Prado for the team-lead in batting average.
The Marlins finished three games under .500, yet still held a playoff spot for an elongated period of time. Coupled with the performances of Ozuna, Yelich, and Realmuto, the end result for the Marlins is great growth within the organization that will lead to success down the road.