As we near the three-quarter mark of the baseball marathon, there's a fair argument to be made that the Miami Marlins are having their worst season ever, which is really saying something with a franchise that once endured a 108-loss season.
So what went wrong in 2015? That's a complicated question, because, you see, just so many things have blown up in the Fish's face. Asking what happened to this Marlins season is like running up to a man who was just hit by a bus and asking him, "Hey, guy, are you all right?! What hurts?!" Well, everything. Literally everything hurts, and Marlins fans are in the familiar position of just waiting for another season to die.
Before this season, some experts argued the Marlins had the best outfield in baseball. Now that outfield routinely includes the 31-year-old, career-.242-hitting Cole Gillespie and a 41-year-old Ichiro — so not the best, probably. Others were so drunk on the Marlins coming into this year that they picked the team to win the World Series. Well, that thing probably won't happen either, because the Marlins are currently the worst team in baseball, nearly 20 games out of a wildcard spot.
So much has gone wrong this season. Let's go down the laundry list of things that did the Marlins in:
- Opening Day starter Henderson Alvarez was supposed to lead the rotation until Jose Fernadez returned; instead, he made just four lackluster starts before undergoing right shoulder surgery that ended this season and will most likely extend to next season.
- The Marlins fired manager Mike Redmond early in the season after a slow start. Redmond was in his third season and had a record of 155-207 before being fired. He was then replaced by Marlins General Manager Dan Jennings — who had last managed a high school baseball team over two decades ago. The Marlins, on his watch, have proceeded to go from below-average, to downright terrible. The Marlins are expected to hire another new manager this offseason, the 11th of the Jeffrey Loria ownership era.
- Marcell Ozuna, thought to be a huge part of the team's success, hit just .249 with four homers in 79 games with the big league squad and has spent the rest of the season in the minors ever since.
- Christian Yelich — coming off a $50 million extension this offseason — has been anything but a difference-maker all season, hitting just .271 with six home runs.
Mike Hill said Stanton still feels discomfort swinging. No timetable for return.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) August 3, 2015
- Giancarlo Stanton headed into 2015 freshly paid, and ready to be the face of a different era in Miami Marlins baseball — then he broke his hand less than half-way into the season. With his injury healing slower than expected, it's looking more and more likely Marlins fans won't see him again until next season.
- The Marlins banged the free agency re-set button again at the trade deadline, dealing away Mat Latos, Dan Haren, and Michael Morse. The moves meant the Dodgers were now actually paying 25 percent of the Marlins' payroll.
- The much-anticipated return of Jose Fernandez from Tommy John surgery lasted all of 43 innings before he went back on the DL with what is being diagnosed as a right bicep strain. Many feel the right thing to do would be to shut him down the rest of the season.
While #Marlins are taking "wait-and-see" approach, the general feeling in clubhouse is it may be best to shut Jose down.— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) August 8, 2015
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So is this the worst Marlins season ever? Well, there's no sure bet this team will end up with the most losses in franchise history. The team left after the post-1997 World Series title fire sale resulted in the Marlins following up a championship season with a 108-loss effort.
But from a subjective standpoint, it's tough to feel too much pain that quickly after a title — ask Miami Heat fans. Others might suggest the 2012's 93-loss campaign as the worst. That season saw the Marlins open their new park with high hopes and close it with none of the high-priced free agents, nor the same manager, with which they entered the year.
The following year — in which the team lost 100 games — could also be on the list. Both are fabulous contestants, but Marlins fans could lie to themselves following those years, preaching that it was all part of a larger plan. This season hasn't felt like part of a plan. It feels like the last strike in another lost cause. Nothing has changed, and there is no change in sight. The Marlins will always spend little and need to capture lightning in a magical bottle to even sniff any real success.
In the end, there are so many terrible Marlins seasons to choose as the worst. But with all things considered equally, 2015 has been the worst Marlins season ever.