Fantasy Baseball: Marlins Hitters Striving For Consistency

  • Michael Florio

Editors Note: Mike Florio of spent some time around the Miami Marlins this week, talking to their players and coaches. Here is his Fantasy Insider Report on Miami’s key players as the second half of your season beckons. TM

The Miami Marlins lineup has outlived expectations this season, providing Fantasy owners with some surprising pickups.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, and one of the best stories in baseball, is the resurgence of third baseman Casey McGehee. McGehee struggled to replicate his 2010 season during which he belted 23 home runs, drove in 104 RBI and batted .285. He struggled in the big leagues after 2010 but he raked in Japan last season, batting .292 with 28 HRs, 30 doubles, and 93 RBI.

“I think he found himself in Japan,” said Marlins hitting coach Frank Menechino. “He is taking what they give him and taking those base hits.”

That is exactly what McGehee has provided Fantasy owners with this season, as he hasn’t homered since May 10th, but is batting .319 with 53 RBI and 35 runs. He is on pace to drive in 93, his highest RBI total since 2010, despite hitting just one HR.

“I’m just sticking to the approach that got me to the big leagues and trying not to change from it,” McGehee said.

His average could dip, as he is currently sporting a .370 BABIP, but his current .073 Isolated Power (ISO) is half his career mark. In the second half, owners may trade a slight dip in average for some more long balls, but McGehee will continue to provide value at third base or a corner infield position.

Perhaps McGehee’s biggest contribution to the Marlins has been mentoring a young lineup. He credits Christian Yelich for doing a great job of setting the tone atop the lineup, and said Garrett Jones and Marcell Ozuna are doing a great job driving them in.

Ozuna came into the season with potential and many Fantasy owners are excited to see him live up to it. Currently, Ozuna has a slash line of .276/.324/.464 with 15 home runs, 51 RBI and 45 runs.

Menechino said a big factor in Ozuna’s development has been his pitch selection.

“He has taken some tough pitches, he is not chasing sliders in the dirt as much and therefore, he’s not missing his pitch to hit,” he said.

However, there is still room for improvement. Menechino said Ozuna has to continue to work on his pitch selection as the 23-year-old develops as a hitter. Ozuna has performed as a number three outfielder in Fantasy this season, but if he can cut down on his 27 percent strikeout rate, he could develop into a must-start option.

He is a good buy in dynasty and keeper leagues, as owners can expect him to work hard to perfect his game.

“All I can do is work hard on my game every day,” he said.

While the Marlins lineup has done a nice job of developing, they still see room for improvement.

“I think we can work on our patience and draw more walks,” said Jones. “We can always improve on hitting with runners in scoring position.”

As with any young lineup, McGehee believes developing consistency is key.

“We have a tendency to go through lulls, when we have a hard time generating any offense,” he said.

McGehee has provided Fantasy owners with consistent play week-to-week, but since he isn’t hitting for power, his success relies on those players around him. Youngsters like Ozuna and Yelich struggle with consistency week in and week out but that should be improving as Menechino is working with the young hitters on shortening up their swings with two strikes.

Of course, it is all held together by the big man in the middle, Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has performed as a Top 5 outfielder this year, belting 21 home runs, 63 RBI, 61 runs and stealing eight bases. Menechino said the lineup developing around him, with the addition of a veteran like McGehee, took a lot of pressure off of Stanton.

“Those guys are picking up runs batted in so it’s a team effort, not just one guy,” he said.

The scary part is the 24-year-old can continue to get better.

“He is always learning as a hitter,” Menechino said. “He has narrowed down his approach and is sticking to the ball he wants to hit. He is really looking for his pitch, and when he gets it he is not missing it.”

Stanton is a no-brainer must start and a first round pick in next years draft, but at such a young age he is a great target in dynasty or keeper leagues, but will demand a hefty price.

The Marlins lineup has a ton of potential, as many of their young hitters have plenty of room to grow. They will provide Fantasy owners with value down the stretch this season, but their best value is in long term leagues. If these young players are able to make the adjustment that the veterans and hitting coach think they are able to make, the Marlins may just be a couple short years away from sporting one of the most dangerous outfields in the game.

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