NL East First Quarter Review: Are The Miami Marlins For Real?
I started a series of articles to review the 2014 MLB season at the quarter mark. Previously, I discussed the Oakland Athletics and the continued success of Billy Beane‘s moneyball concepts. I also reviewed the AL East pennant race. Here, let’s take a closer look at the NL East.
On the face of things, the standings are not unexpected. The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are battling for first place as predicted in the preseason. Surprisingly, however, the Miami Marlins are right there with the Braves and Nationals.
In fact, the entire division is only separated by 3.5 games. Some might say it’s early, but 40 games is enough to start meaning something. The quarter mark of the baseball season begins to have some mathematical significance and most teams will play at a winning percentage +/- .075 of their current winning percentage — for the season.
If we take a closer look, the Marlins have the best run differential in the division. In fact, the Marlins are pretty much tied for second place in the NL with the San Francisco Giants in run differential at +23 runs (the Giants have +24). The Marlins and Giants are a distant second behind the Colorado Rockies and the Rockies’ run machine in batter-friendly Coors Field.
Although the Braves and Nationals are slightly over .500, their run differentials are exactly zero! Meanwhile, the Marlins have solid power throughout the lineup. Led by right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who is on pace for almost 50 home runs and 150+ RBIs (!!), the Marlins have six regulars on pace for 20 or more home runs!
After the Braves, Nationals and Marlins, the New York Mets have slightly outperformed expectations. However, inconsistent batting and pitching has the Mets currently below .500.
The Philadelphia Phillies have underperformed preseason expectations. While the Phillies still have many big-name stars, age is taking its toll as player performance slowly declines. When a team with Ryan Howard is last in the league in home runs, that is a weakness that need to be addressed.