The Miami Marlins are one of the worst teams in the MLB, but the stats in which their players accumulate count just the same as players on the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers or any other big league team. So why is it that the Fantasy community seems to have resisted falling head over heels in love with the Marlins barely 21-year old ace Jose Fernandez?
It’s simple, really. He plays for the Marlins and pitches once every five days. That’s a rough combination, but I want you to take a look at this blind resume, as it is all about the numbers in Fantasy Baseball.
Player A: 20 wins – three losses – 2.19 ERA – 0.98 WHIP – 9.75 K/9
Player B: 20 wins – six losses – 2.73 ERA – 1.05 WHIP – 8.90 K/9
Player C: 21 wins – five losses – 2.28 ERA – 0.98 WHIP – 9.6 K/9
Player D: 21 wins – 10 losses- 2.44 ERA – 1.04 WHIP – 7.9 K/9
Player E: 15 wins – seven losses – 2.48 ERA – 1.05 WHIP – 10.4 K/9
Player F: 18 wins – five losses – 2.62 ERA – 1.17 WHIP – 10.5 K/9
All of these numbers look pretty similar, right? If pressed to pick a stat line, you’d probably lean toward Player A, but concede that they are all elite seasons. The last five stat lines (Player B – Player F) belong to the past five N.L. Cy Young winners: R.A. Dickey, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and Tim Lincecum. Player A you ask? That would have been Fernandez’s stat line had the Marlins offense supplied him with their 3.27 runs per game. That’s not asking too much is it? The Fish are ranked dead last in the league in runs scored (66 fewer than the next lowest team), but had they just gotten Fernandez their average run total (and I realize that no team can score 3.27 runs in a single game, so just work with the conceptual idea), he would have won 20 games!
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda. I get that a player who “should have” won 20 games and a pitcher who did win 20 games are not to be treated equally. But when evaluating upside, is it not reasonable to say that this season very easily could have been Cy Young level for the youngster?
Even if you’re not buying that the Marlins can get him 3-4 runs per start, consider that Fernandez’s season was cut seven starts short. Had they gotten him that run support in half of the outings in which he recorded a no decision/loss (four extra wins) and if he continued to win 43% of his starts for an entire 35 start season, he still would have finished with 19 wins (the average number of wins for N.L. Cy Young winners over the last five seasons).
Wins are the hardest statistic to project and the only area where Fernandez wasn’t absolutely elite. Is it possible the wins won’t be there next year? Sure. But it is at least as equally likely that the Marlins can produce decent run support in his starts. I wouldn’t chase this year’s win totals (Max Scherzer, C.J. Wilson, etc.) nor would I avoid a pitcher because of a low win total (Fernandez, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, etc). He’s not a huge name (yet), but he should be considered a top-five starting pitcher for next season, with the potential to be the game’s best.