Marlins sharpen focus on making post-season repeat

Average play in a tough division leaves the Marlins with more obstacles than COVID to make the playoffs.


"Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, August 23, 2020 (All-Pro Reels Photography)" by All-Pro Reels is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Outfielder Jesus Sanchez throws a ball in warm-ups as the Miami Marlins fight for a spot in the 2020 MLB playoffs

 The Miami Marlins have not been in the national spotlight since their second World Series victory in 2003. Even though this season hasn’t played out the way most Marlins’ fans would’ve wanted so far, as long as the Marlins can slip their way into the playoffs, anything can happen

It is still early in the year, but the Marlins are currently 18-23 and in second to last place in the NL East. However, the Marlins have proven over recent years that they can finish strong and make it to the playoffs. With how random and unpredictable the MLB playoffs can be, all the Marlins need is a spot in the dance.

With 11 of the last 12 seasons ending with a losing record, it’s been a while since the Marlins have been the talk of the MLB.

The Marlins have never had any sort of dynasty with a solid group of players, but they do have two World Series victories in only two playoff appearances (1997 and 2003) with their all-star third baseman Miguel Cabrera. In 2007, the Marlins traded him away to Detroit in return for all of the Tiger’s top prospects; including Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Eulogio de la Cruz, and others. While Cabrera continued to play at a high level, the players in exchange for him were average at best for the Marlins. That decision by Miami’s front office went down as one of the worst trades in major league history.

Even though that trade went down fourteen years ago, the Marlins have struggled to return to that level since. However, last season Don Mattingly, currently in his 6th year as the Marlins’ manager, led them to a winning record and a playoff appearance for the first time since 2003. In the shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they went 31-29 and finished second in the NL East. That was their highest placement in the division since 2017; which is when the Marlins had the best outfield in baseball with Christian Yelich (Milwaukee Brewers), Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta Braves), and former MVP Giancarlo Stanton (New York Yankees) who scored a league-best 16.8 fWAR. When all three of these players were traded to their respected teams, it seemed like all hopes were lost for Miami. 

Despite that, Marlins fans’ high hopes for a signature comeback this season have returned after their surprisingly superb record last year. Their bullpen was exceptional as they were able to shut down teams’ abilities to score runs often. On the pitcher’s mound, right-hander Pablo Rojas led the way going 6-4 last year with a 3.61 ERA (earned run average). In the batter’s box, shortstop Miguel Rojas led the team in batting average with .304 while third baseman Brian Anderson had the most home runs (11) and runs batted in (38). With that being said, the Marlins were swept in the first round by their division rival Atlanta Braves 3-0. Even though it was one of their best seasons in a long time, it wasn’t enough to do any damage in the postseason. 

While some fans seem to think this can be the year the Marlins take the next step, according to, Miami has only an astounding 5.7 percent chance to make the playoffs and a less than 0.1 percent chance to win the World Series as of April 19, 2021. 

Having that in mind, 2021 has shown to be yet another year like 2020; full of surprises and unexpected outcomes. 

The Marlins’ play has been pretty average so far this season. Center fielder Starling Marte is currently leading the team in batting with 18 hits and a .316 batting average and closer Yimi Garcia is leading the team in pitching with 3 saves, a 0.96 ERA, and a 2-1 record. 

In spite of that, the Marlins have shown year by year that they slowly improve as the season goes on. Whether it’s a late-season hot streak, or a flip of a switch after the All-Star break, Miami always seems to end on the right foot even if they started off on the wrong one. As shown from last year, they ended up making the playoffs while they were in a 17-year playoff drought with a team that people thought was one of the worst in recent memory. 

While this 2021 roster has shown major flashes of being a winning team, it will take developing consistency and a little luck to earn a spot in the post-season.