A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE MARLINS
If they can hang in until Jose Fernandez comes back, I absolutely think they can give Washington a run.... Henderson Alvarez, wow. He pitches off a low- to mid-90s fastball, pounds the strike zone and mixes in everything else for strikes. If he has a bad inning, it's usually only one bad inning.... At times Jarred Cosart has a dominant mid-90s fastball, and at times a plus breaking ball.... Giancarlo Stanton doesn't look affected at all [after getting hit in the face last September]. Last year he made the most improvement of any hitter I've seen in a long time. Recognizing pitches, learning to use the opposite field, letting his strength take over. Now he's just trying to make hard contact, and whatever happens, happens.... Christian Yelich has a chance to win a batting title. Very good knowledge of the strike zone, great hand-eye coordination.... Jarrod Saltalamacchia needs to have a better year defensively. His bat's going to play, but he should worry about handling that young staff.... Last year Dee Gordon had a great first half, and then it fell apart. He has to get back to the little things that make him good. His speed is a nice dynamic at the top of the order.... The metrics say Adeiny Hechavarria is not so good defensively, but with the human eye, he is.... I think Ichiro Suzuki has something left. He still brings energy. The addition of veteran guys like him, Michael Morse, Martin Prado, Dan Haren, that's what takes these young clubs to the next level.
The Marlins acquired Dee Gordon to be their leadoff hitter, enamored of his speed—64 steals last year—and believing his .289 batting average and .326 OBP in 2014 represent his new normal. Be skeptical; Gordon had a career .301 OBP before 2014, and his big year amounted to a white-hot start through April (.344/.375/.478) followed by five months during which he showed little change in his skills (.279/.318/.360). He walked an impossible four times in 258 plate appearances after the All-Star break. He's still best suited to bat eighth, so Miami should slide him down and use Martin Prado in the leadoff spot. Prado in an off-year had nearly as high an OBP, .321, as Gordon did in his best year. The move would also prevent two lefties, Gordon and Christian Yelich, from batting back-to-back. A Prado--Yelich--Giancarlo Stanton top of the order is the best way for the Marlins to lift an offense that was seventh in the NL in runs last year.
LEAGUE RANK 5
MANAGER MIKE REDMOND 3RD SEASON WITH THE MARLINS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (STANTON)