If the Marlins remain healthy, their starting outfielders should be productive.
Miami was supposed to have the best outfield in baseball in 2015. As a result of injuries and individual struggles, that did not end up being the case.
A year later, with the same trio projected to be in the Opening Day lineup, the Marlins are repeating that message. But as 2016 approaches, the Marlins should have the best outfield in the game this season.
Giancarlo Stanton is the only big name, but Christian Yelich is establishing himself as a threat in the middle of Miami’s order. New Manager Don Mattingly appears to be fond of Yelich. The young left could be batting third when the Marlins face the Tigers in April.
Marcell Ozuna, largely because of his struggles last season, might not be praised from the outset. However, that could change relatively quickly.
Miami ended the regular season 29th in runs scored last season. The outfield was not productive, but that is because it did not have an opportunity to be, especially as a unit.
Stanton only spent 74 games in the lineup last season. He batted .265 and managed to hit 27 home runs, but he was not healthy. A healthy Stanton is the key to the Marlins’ success offensively. He still has to prove he can remain healthy, but all signs are pointing toward a productive 2016 campaign.
Yelich similarly missed time early in the season with an injury, and when he returned, he did not produce regularly. However, after the All-Star break, Yelich thrived and ended the regular season batting .300 to complement 44 RBIs.
Ozuna spent a significant amount of time in Triple-A last season as a result of a slow start. Whether or not the Marlins kept him there for an extended period is insignificant. Ozuna batted .259 over 123 games with the Marlins last season. He is going to have to be more productive than that.
Ozuna also lost weight this off-season, which can only help his ability to produce. The Marlins are depending on him with limited immediate minor league outfield depth.
With Barry Bonds as the new hitting coach, the Marlins’ outfielders will likely have even more success offensively. It might take time, but if Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna produce regularly, the Marlins should have one of the better lineups in the National League.
Defensively, things got easier for the three. Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna have not had notable issues in the outfield at Marlins Park. Each has speed, which is valuable in the gaps at Marlins Park. Now that the fences have been moved in, things should only get better for Miami’s young outfielders.
There are plenty of reasons for things not to go as planned. Injuries and inconsistencies are among them. But as the first round of spring games begins, the Marlins believe they have the best outfield in baseball. Until proven otherwise, they do.