11 July 2011
This has been an up and down year to say the least for the Florida Marlins. The Marlins were one of the top teams in the NL for the first two months, and then had a June swoon so bad that they set the MLB record for fastest team to go from 10 games over .500 to 10 games under .500. Then the Marlins to end the first half of the season by winning nine of their last 12 including their last five in a row. The Marlins also had a first half that saw their ace pitcher, Josh Johnson, go down in the middle of May with a mysterious injury that may keep him out for another month, their super star short, Hanley Ramirez, stop play the worst three months of his career, one of their young conerstone players, Chris Coghlan, get sent to the minors (although he went to the DL instead), and their manager resign. With all that it is time to reflect and give out team awards for the first half:
MVP-- Gaby Sanchez
Their can be little in the way of doubt that Gaby has been the best Marlins player throughout the first half of the season. Gaby leads the Marlins in hits, double, total bases, batting average, OBP, OPS, and is second on the team in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage (Mike Stanton leads those categories). For most of the season Gaby Sanchez was right in step with Joey Votto as one of the best statistical first basemen in the NL, although he eventually had his numbers dip in June while Prince Fielder heated up Gaby is still one of the best statistical first basemen in the league right now. Gaby deservingly is the Marlins representative in the All-Star Game and this probably will be the first of several appearances by him.
LVP (least valuable player)-- Omar Infante
I know, I know most people would put Hanley here, but if you look at the two players numbers than Infante is much less valuable. While he has been an improvement a second base defensively, outside of a few games in May he has made very little impact on games from the plate. Part of the reason the Marlins acquired Infante was to be a second lead off guy, a player who can get on base a bunch and will score runs when Hanley, Stanton, Gaby are at the plate. Yet this year Infante is hitting .251 with a .291 OBP and has 25 runs, 27 RBI, one home run, 21 walks, three stolen bases and 108 total bases. Compare those numbers to Hanley who in 85 fewer plate appearances is hitting .242 with a .337 OBP and has 46 runs, 37 RBI, 8 home runs, 37 walks, 15 stolen bases and 98 total bases. Even Chris Coghlan, who the Marlins tried to send down to the minors for poor play, still has more runs, doubles, home runs, walks, and stolen bases despite less plate appearances and only a .230 average. Infane in the first half defines the least valuable player award by making the least amount of impact on this team.
Most Surprising Player-- Emilio Bonifacio
Going into the year everyone thought they knew the deal with Emilio; fast as hell, can play a bunch of different positions well enough, but doesn't have enough plate discipline or make enough contact to be an everyday player. Keeping all that in mind, Emilio Bonifacio's first half can only be described as surprising. As we sit here at the All-Str break he has a .285 average with a .356 OBP, 16 stolen bases (a lot of those coming in the last three weeks), and played all over the field for the Marlins. Despite the fact that Bonifacio was just suppose to be a bench player who would get spot duty coming out of training camp, as of today he has the 5th most at bat for the Marlins this season thanks to other players getting injured and his own great performance. The Marlins may be sitting five games under .500 at 43-48, but without the great play of Bonifacio the Marlins struggles would have been much worse.
Most Disappointing Player-- Hanley Ramirez
All of you who wanted Hanley for LVP, will just have to settle for this. Going into this season all you heard about the Marlins was the Hanley was poised for great year and that he was ready to take on a leadership role. Neither of those were accurate. Hanley had the worst start of his career. He is hitting .242 with eight home runs, 37 RBI, 46 runs, 15 stolen bases, a team leading 13 errors, and his numbers would be even worse had his play not picked up so much in the last 18 games. This and Gaby being MVP are probably be the two most obvious awards for this first half.
Team Cy Young-- Ricky Nolasco
Most people said that they thought that Anibal Sanchez should have been considered for the All-Star game and that they say that Anibal would has been the best pitcher of the year, but I am going to go with Nolasco. Anibal does have a slightly lower ERA, fewer losses, and 25 more strike outs than Nolasco in one less start. However, Nolasco does have the same number of wins (six) the same number of complete games (two) but he also has two more quality starts, fewer walks, fewer home runs, and has pitcher more innings (even if you adjust for his one extra start). I place a premium on the innings and quality starts, especially this year with Josh Johnson on the DL and the Marlins never knowing what they were going to get from Chris Volstad and Javier Vazquez. Nolasco's ability to eat up innings and not put a whole lot of pressure on the bullpen really is the reason that I chose him over Anibal, especially when you look at the fact that his ERA was 3.70 (Anibal's is 3.58) and his WHIP is 1.28 (Anibal's is 1.23). I probably would have chosen Anibal over Nolasco two weeks ago, but Anibal had two bad starts and Nolasco had a complete game and it really narrowed the gap number wise.
Oh No Not Him-- Javier Vazquez
Vazquez if it was not for Hanley flirting with the Mendoza line for most of the first half Vazquez would have been the most disappointing player. The Marlins are a team that very rarely will go out an sign a veteran free agent, especially for $7,000,000 a year, but they did take that risk this offseason and most analyst liked the move. Unfortunately just like Hanley Ramirez, all those exports could not have been more wrong when the season started. Vazquez is 5-8 (same as Volstad) with a 5.23 ERA (lower ERA than Volstad, 5.40), but he has the fewest innings pitched (96.1) , fewest quality starts (6), the highest WHIP (1.52), and fewest strikeouts (66) of the four main starters. Vazquez has had some real good games this year, but unlike Volstad, who may just have one poor inning to ruin a good start, when Vazquez is off he has been horrendous. Vazquez actually started off the year by allowing at least one run in the first inning of his first eight games of the year. I truly do believe that the Marlins may have chosen to designate him for assignment had Josh Johnson not gone down with an injury, and Sean West and Alex Sanabia not been hurt as well.
I do need to give a special shout out to Leo Nunez as well. I know that their are some out their are not Nunez fans, but the guy has been very good this year. Yes, he does have a tendency to make things a little to interesting with his 3.51 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but he is 25 of 28 in his save chances this year. Had the Marlins not gone through such a horrible June, only five wins, Leo would probably be the league leader in saves. His 25 saves place him sixth in MLB, only three behind Craig Kimbrel, and only four players in than him (John Axford 23 of 25 in save opportunities, Houston Street 26 of 28, Heath Bell 26 of 27, and Joel Hanrahan 26 of 26). Leo also played a huge part in why the Marlins getting off to such a hot start by going 18 of 18 in save opportunities to start the year.
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