Well, here we are nearing the end of 2014. The Marlins have lost their star pitcher, and still they are battling. They are on this Saturday morning, Aug. 23, a mere (?!) four games out of a wild card spot. The playoffs remain a distant, shimmering dream, but still, as they start a crucial road trip, a fan can still have some interest.
What's happened? Stanton is having a great season, of course, but there's more. Yelich, 22, and Ozuna, 23, keep improving. So does Adeiny. I think that's the key. Salty ($6 million), Jones ($2.7 million) and McGehee ($1.1 million) have been improvements but they don't win a World Series. McGehee in particular seems to be reverting lately to his standard career stats, but it's interesting that he does well RISP and also hits into a ton of double plays -- indications that a lot of batters are getting on base before him.
What's more, the Marlins are doing all this even though their 2B hope, Furcal ($3.5 million), has been a bust, and they're still paying $4 million this year, according to some websites, to support Bell.
As of today, the Marlins are 6th in NL in runs scored (after being a miserable last most of last year), 5th in on-base percentage, 4th in walks and tied for 8th in home runs (while playing in a cavernous park). They're certainly NOT doing it with speed (14th in NL in stolen bases) or fielding (12th in NL in fielding percentage). Their pitchers are also 12th in ERA.
Next year, if Fernandez returns, if they keep Stanton, if they get a couple more pitchers, if ... if ... well, at least we're back to thinking of ifs -- a great improvement after last year's stultifying performance.