Once in a while a team comes around that seems to be playing above their pedigree. The 1980 Us Olympic Hockey Team, the George Mason Final Four squad, or even the Tottenham Hotspur run through the Champions League. These teams seem to be playing and winning as if by magic.
And in 2020, a franchise that hasn’t seen that magic in almost seventeen years, had themselves a season. The Miami Marlins were magical, there’s no doubt about that.
The Miami Marlins
2020: Record: 31 – 29
2020 Finish: 2nd in the NL East, 6th in the National League
Surprises in 2020
The Marlins have been building a strong stable of young arms in their farm system the last few years, and we’re finally seeing them come into focus. Pablo Lopez and Sandy Alcantara had great short seasons, and have been the rocks of this rotation. Sixto Sanchez, the big piece that came from Philadelphia in exchange for J.T. Realmuto, was as advertised in 2020. The young arms of Miami showed up in 2020, and that’s made all the difference for the Marlins.
The volatility of the Marlins roster also played right into the matchup-happy, shift-heavy, and constantly changing lineups of Don Mattingly. While the Marlins recovered from the outbreak of COVID-19, Mattingly was forced to play younger players in big situations while his Opening Day roster recovered. That meant pushing players to early MLB debuts, having Jon Berti play every position on the field, and forcing slumping players like Lewis Brinson into action.
And it worked. For all the flack Mattingly gets for tinkering with lineups and playing matchup baseball, 2020 was the perfect year for his type of managerial stylings. Mattingly was born to manage in 2020, and thus won NL Manager of the Year for his efforts.
Disappointments in 2020
There is nothing to be disappointed about in regards to the Miami Marlins 2020 season. Absolutely zero. If last season left you wanting more, and you never realized the magic this team was using to get as far as they did, you might as well pack up your things and leave the game of baseball behind you.
The Miami Marlins were a Cinderella story that survived Covid and the elements. What more could you have asked from them?
Looking Ahead to 2021
All of that magic aside, as we head into a full 2021 season, it’s hard to see the Marlins repeating their success in a tougher NL East. That being said, it’s not as if the Marlins are dead in the water after 2020. In fact, it’s the opposite.
In 2020, we got a glimpse of what Derek Jeter and his ownership team are building. More to that point, t’s no surprise why they brought in a new GM after last season. The Marlins front office got a free glimpse into their future. Now, all they have to do is sit and wait.
The Miami Marlins are coming, y’all. Best be ready before they arrive.
Projected 2021 Finish: 74-88, 4th in the NL East
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