Some were saying before the season that the Marlins had the best outfield in the majors.
So far, though, it has been their infield that has shined brightest.
With second baseman Dee Gordon tearing it up at the plate and third baseman Martin Prado and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria swinging the bat well, it might be time for the Marlins’ infield to receive some national praise.
“Right now, it seems like the whole infield has gotten hot at the same time,” manager Mike Redmond said. “I think we knew going in that we really liked our infield, and we knew the infield had a chance to produce offensively.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But no one could have foreseen Gordon’s red-hot start.
Gordon took a 13-game hitting streak and .439 average — the best in the majors — into Monday’s game against the Dodgers, the team that traded him to the Marlins in December.
“Obviously, the start Dee Gordon’s had has been off the charts,” Redmond said.
And who could have imagined Hechavarria sitting on a .308 average after starting the season by going 1 for his first 22 at-bats? There’s a reason the Marlins have Hechavarria batting eighth based on his results from previous seasons.
Prado, meanwhile, was hitting .295 going into Monday with a pair of homers, or exactly as many as outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich put together.
“You’re talking about [three] guys that have picked us up huge and been a big reason for us winning games,” Redmond said.
Only first baseman Michael Morse hasn’t held his own with the rest of the infielders, struggling to the tune of a .216 average.
But remove Morse from the equation, and the infielders have easily outperformed the Marlins’ outfielders: Yelich, Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, who was mired in a 4-for-25 slump on the trip with 11 strikeouts and was given a day off on Sunday.
Based on advanced metrics formulas, the three infielders have vastly outperformed the Marlins’ three outfielders. WAR — or “wins above replacement” — more greatly values the infield trio over their outfield counterparts.
According to WAR figures determined by baseballreference.com, the collection of Gordon, Hechavarria and Prado have an aggregate WAR of 4.2, and Gordon’s individual figure of 2.4 ranks third among all players in the majors.
In contrast, the outfield of Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich have combined for a WAR of just 0.7.
Not exactly best-outfield-in-the-majors kind of material.
Ozuna said he’s not the least bit jealous that the Marlins’ infielders have upstaged the outfielders so far.
“They’re my teammates,” said Ozuna, who went the first 26 games without homering before ending the drought with a pair of blasts in San Francisco over the weekend.
Yelich’s .179 average is the lowest of any regular, and he has only one extra-base hit on the season — a double.
Stanton has been up and down but leads the team with seven homers and 29 RBI.
Ozuna predicts the three outfielders will put it together before the season’s over.
“The outfield is OK,” Ozuna said. “This is still the best outfield.”
CISHEK STILL CLOSER
One day after Steve Cishek recorded his third blown save, Redmond gave the embattled closer a vote of confidence by saying he’s sticking with Cishek in the role.
“We need him,” Redmond said. “He’s a huge part of this ballclub. For us to go where we want to go, we need him to lock down those games, and we know he’s capable.”
Cishek gave up two runs in the ninth Sunday as the Giants rallied from a 2-1 deficit to pull out a 3-2 win in San Francisco.
“He hasn’t had that many [save] opportunities, so it’s tough,” Redmond said. “We need to try to get him in there. The best way is to get him back in there [Monday night]. Hopefully, we can do that, get him back on the mound. A lot of times, all you need is to get back in there and close down a tight ballgame.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Henderson Alvarez will make what could be his final, minor-league rehab start on Tuesday for Single A Jupiter. If all goes well, Alvarez could come off the disabled list and rejoin the rotation when the Marlins return home from the road trip.
Redmond said Alvarez is scheduled to throw 75 pitches Tuesday.
“We’ll see how he throws,” Redmond said.
▪ Infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple A New Orleans. Brignac was designated for assignment Friday after Yelich was activated from the disabled list.