Miami Marlins stats and news ahead of spring training

Miami stayed afloat until the All-Star Break, hovering around .500 until a sweep at the hands of Philadelphia led into the Midsummer Classic.

From there their wheels fell off, going 26-45 in the second half on the way to a fourth-place finish in the National League East.

While there was chatter that the Marlins could make a playoff push when the season started, that result shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected.

It’s harder to make the postseason in MLB than it is in just about any other professional sport, and baseball is a grueling game of attrition across a 162-game slate.

Once the dog days of summer set in and a young team that lacks depth knows they’re going nowhere fast, it’s difficult to stay on course.

At some point the Marlins front office will have to draw a line in the sand, opting to improve their team now instead of flipping successful players in return for a chance at relevancy in five years.

With players like Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm, the Marlins have a core to build around. They traded Pablo López for silver slugger Luis Arraez, a deal that could help determine Miami’s trajectory. Whether these players stay in Miami or become the next Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, flipped for prospects that could never reach the big leagues remains to be seen.

The Marlins almost certainly won’t compete for a playoff spot in 2023: BetMGM Sportsbook lists them at +10000 to win it all this season, solidly in the bottom third of the league. That said, this season will be a crucial test to see if they can continue to build on their success, emboldening management to go all in in the next season or two. A failure to launch this year could mean another aborted rebuild and continued futility.

It doesn’t help that they play in perhaps the toughest division in all of baseball. The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 2021 and have most of their young core locked down for the next decade; the Philadelphia Phillies won the National League last season and have only gotten stronger, adding stars like shortstop Trea Turner to an already dangerous roster; the New York Mets made the playoffs in 2022 courtesy of deep pockets and an owner ready to spend lavishly in Steve Cohen. That leaves the Marlins and Nationals fighting for scraps.

One thing that will benefit Miami greatly this year is a revamped schedule that takes the emphasis off of division play. Rather than going through the meat grinder as they play the Phillies, Mets, and Braves again and again, the Marlins will have the opportunity to play the other 29 teams in baseball more than they normally would this season: and with it, games against cellar-dwellers like the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s that otherwise might not have happened.

There’s always some glimmer of hope in the NL East though, as iron sharpens iron in such a competitive division: both the 2021 Braves and 2019 Nationals were dead in the water before the stars aligned on their way to strong second halves and an eventual World Series title. Not all bad records are created equal, and 94 losses in the NL East last season could be much closer than the numbers suggest to a .500 record in a weaker division.

The Marlins might not have their entire team together until the eve of the regular season, with the World Baseball Classic siphoning off seven of their players. Sandy Alcantara, Johnny Cueto, and Jean Segura will take the field for the Dominican Republic; Luis Arraez, Jesús Luzardo, and Enmanuel De Jesús will represent Venezuela and Anthony Maldonado will play for Puerto Rico. Coincidentally, all three national teams are part of Pool D, which the Marlins will host at LoanDepot Park. Miami denied Jazz Chisholm’s request to play for Great Britain in Arizona’s Pool C, so perhaps they want to keep their players close at hand even if they aren’t available for every team activity.

Luckily for the Marlins, they shouldn’t suffer any competitive disadvantage by loaning their players’ talents to the national teams. Just about every team is doing so (and the better teams are more likely to have stars able to win a starting spot on a WBC roster), so they’ll all start with a level playing field after the tournament ends.