The Marlins are Better than you Think but Not that Good
At 5-2 the Marlins are off to a fast start and while their rotation is full of young talent, the line-up was what was supposed to be lacking. The Marlins offense so far has scored the most runs in the majors, but much of that offense is a mirage. Casey McGehee is not a 1.092 OPS hitter. McGehee wasn't even in MLB last season and had to play in Japan. In 2011 and 2012 McGehee's promising start to his career vanished as he put up an OPS of .626 in 2011 and .643 in 2012. Then he was out of MLB. He is back this season as the Marlins took a flyer on him and so far he has rewarded them, but he will regress to the mean. As will several other members of the Marlins' line-up. As of this moment, Adeiny Hechavarria has a .393 batting average and .379 on base percentage. Hechavarria is a talented defensive shortstop but he has never been known for his offense, and with an OPS so dependent on BABIP it is bound to regress. Much the same can be said for Marcell Ozuna as neither Ozuna or Hechavarria have been good at getting on base. The lack of discipline at the plate will be taken advantage of by the better pitchers in the league and when that happens the Marlins offense is going to fall to Earth. The one good bit of news is that while many Marlins are off to a hot start, Christian Yelich is not and his offensive rebound could coincide with the other line-up members' regression. That will help some but it won't stop the Marlins offense from falling into the bottom half of the league.
The good news for the Marlins is they have the two things that all good teams need. They have the strong middle of the order bat in Giancarlo Stanton and the Ace pitcher in Jose Fernandez. The pitching prospects have arrived and Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are hoping to use 2014 to establish themselves in the majors. Runs are going to be hard to come by against the Marlins rotation but their eventual lack of offensive ability will help to keep their opponents in the game and any bullpen that features Carlos Marmol is susceptible.
The Marlins are a better team than people think. They have the pitching talent to be competitive, but they lack the offensive ability to be contenders. Their hot offensive start will end and Giancarlo Stanton has yet to play a full season in his career. With the pitching staff the Marlins should be better able to weather that storm, but it won't be enough. They are still a few pieces away from being able to hang with the Braves in the division. It shouldn't come as a surprise though if the Marlins finish in third place in the division. The Phillies are just as talented as the Marlins but with older players in their decline years while the Marlins could see some of their young players take steps forward.
When you get right down to it, the thing to remember is that the Marlins are back to being the Marlins. Replace the names of Fernandez, Eovaldi, and Alvarez with Johnson, Sanchez, and Nolasco or Beckett, Burnett, Willis and you get the point. This is what the Marlins do. It is what they have always done. They are great at getting just enough young talent to win around 75 games or to get lucky for a year, make the playoffs as a Wild Card, and win the World Series. The Marlins are not a 100 loss team, they aren't a push over, but they also aren't a team that is going to lead the majors in runs scored and methodically march their way through 162 games on course for a third World Series. The Nats won't be able to dominate the Marlins as they did in 2013, but the Nats are still a better team. Look out for the Marlins in 2015 and 2016 if they don't have another fire sale and are able to acquire another couple bats.