The Miami Marlins called up Harold Ramirez this weekend. Given that Ramirez was once a top 100 prospect for the Pirates, this is a notable move in its own right. Make no mistake, Ramirez has earned his call-up. All he has to do now is save the Marlins from making the worst kind of history.
Miami Marlins Try To Avoid Making History
Chris Davis was historically awful in 2018. That might seem an odd segue into an article about the Marlins. Unfortunately for the Marlins, it is not.
The Marlins were bad in 2018. They were expected to be. They had spent the offseason shedding talent and beginning a rebuild. Yet as bad as they were, they were merely bad. Of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, their offense finished 24th in fWAR with 10.8. The putrid Orioles finished last with 1.8 fWAR. If you subtract Chris Davis and his historically awful numbers, the Orioles fWAR jumps from 1.8 to 4.9. It would still be last and it would still be bad.
All of that serves as context for this: the Marlins offense has produced -1.6 fWAR so far in 2019. It should be impossible. No major league team should ever field a sub-replacement level roster. Even without trying, the Marlins should be able to field an offense that is at least roughly equivalent to that of an average AAA team.
How Did They Get Here?
The most frustrating part of the equation for these Miami Marlins is that, at least on paper, they did try. They traded away their best player in J.T. Realmuto, but their catching hasn’t been part of the problem. Jorge Alfaro and Chad Wallach haven’t set the world on fire, producing 0.3 fWAR a piece, but that’s still positive performance in this context.
The Marlins did try though. They kept generally useful, if unspectacular, second baseman Starlin Castro. They brought in a respected righty-masher in veteran Curtis Granderson. They signed veteran infielder Neil Walker. Lewis Brinson had struggled mightily as a rookie but had prospect pedigree and a strong spring on his side.
It all went wrong though. The problem is that 29-year-old minor league journeyman Jon Berti has been their fifth best hitter with 0.1 fWAR. Or maybe the problem is that starting pitchers Trevor Richards, Sandy Alcantara, and Pablo Lopez are tied for the sixth spot. Perhaps the issue is that Lewis Brinson, with his -0.1 fWAR is tied for ninth, and is the minor leagues. Castro and Granderson have combined for -0.9 fWAR, Martin Prado can still make contact but has no power, and Isaac Galloway has been worse than Brinson.
Enter Harold Ramirez
Austin Dean and Peter O’Brien have shown flashes of potential in the minors, but both have flopped when given the chance to seize a job this season. Rosell Herrera received a shot. Isaac Galloway received a second chance. No matter what the Marlins have tried in the outfield, it has not worked.
Enter Harold Ramirez. Playing at AA last season, Ramirez finally discovered his power stroke slashing .320/.365/.471 with 11 home runs. He went to winter ball and hit .380. All he’s done at AAA so far this year is hit a ridiculous .355/.408/.591 with four home runs and 12 doubles. Ramirez has earned his shot. All he has to do now is save an entire franchise from a historically awful season. No pressure. If not, well at least Caleb Smith is really good.
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