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Swimming Under the Sonar- The 2nd Best Position Player on the 2013 Miami Marlins.
- Updated: March 4, 2014
(Note: rWAR and fWAR differ significantly on the answer to this question. I went with rWAR for this article.)
It’s no secret that the Miami Marlins struggled offensively in 2013. “Struggled offensively” is actually being too generous. The 2013 Miami Marlins offense was bad. “How bad were they”? They were so bad, they scored only 513 runs, worst in baseball by 85. They had the fewest hits, the fewest doubles, and the fewest homeruns. With all this came the league’s lowest batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. That bad. Conversely, the pitching staff performed quite well, especially given the lack of experience throughout. Many games were lost despite quality starts from pitchers and solid performances from the bullpen.
The 2013 Miami Marlins had the privilege of seeing National League Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez lead the team in rWAR with an impressive 6.3. Starter Nathan Eovaldi and closer Steve Cishek also had solid seasons with rWAR values of 2.2 and 2.1, respectively. The only other Marlin to put up a two win season in 2013? That would be the Marlins’ best position player.
Ask any baseball fan who the best non-pitcher on the Marlins was last season and they’ll tell you it was Giancarlo Stanton. Despite playing in only 116 games, Stanton was able to put together a 2.4 rWAR, good for best on the team among position players. 2013 was Stanton’s worst season according to the statistic, but he still managed to be better than anyone else on the team around him.
So who was second best? Who was the best Marlin position player in 2013 not named Giancarlo Stanton? Was it a promising young rookie like Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna? Well, it was a rookie at least.
Thirty-one year old Ed Lucas, drafted out of Dartmouth in 2004 by the Kansas City Royals, got his first taste of Major League Baseball courtesy of the Marlins in 2013. He debuted on May 30th, and ended up playing in 94 games and receiving 384 plate appearances. When all was said and done, Lucas had compiled 1.5 rWAR, good for second best on the 2013 team. Offensively, he was solid but certainly not spectacular. He hit .256 with a .311 on base percentage. He hit 4 homeruns and drove in 28. His OPS+ was a pedestrian (too generous again?) 79.
How do those numbers end up being worth a win and a half? Ed Lucas is incredibly versatile defensively and also very solid with the glove wherever he goes. He accumulated 1.1 dWAR over the season, playing games all over the diamond. He played 61 games at third base, 25 at first base, 20 at second base, 6 at shortstop, and 1 in left field. This adds up to more than his 94 games played due to switching positions in the middle of a game. So, to be more exact, Lucas spent 482.2 innings as a third baseman, 179.1 as a first baseman, 96.1 as a second baseman, 30.0 as a shortstop, and 10.1 as a left fielder. He was well above average at all of these positions except for second base, where he played at a replacement level.
What does this tell us overall? Ed Lucas is a solid Major League Baseball player. On a good team, he would be a great player to have on the bench since he can play pretty much anywhere and play well. However, nothing against Ed Lucas, but it is more telling of the 2013 Marlins team than it is of Lucas that he ended up as the second best position player. What we saw out of Ed Lucas in his 31 year-old rookie season is likely what we’ll see out of him his whole career. The Marlins have many young players with much more “upside” than Lucas, and these players need to get playing time in 2014 in order to continue their development. Lucas should serve as an excellent bench player, allowing the young guys a day off here and there and taking the place of anyone who might be injured. His versatility makes him incredibly valuable, but if things go as the Marlins expect them to go, Ed Lucas should see less playing time in 2014. The team signed Casey McGehee to play third base and Rafael Furcal to play second. Garrett Jones and Jeff Baker were signed to (hopefully) platoon at first base. Adeiny Hechavarria will have another chance to redeem himself after a putrid 2013 at shortstop. The outfield, in the meantime, is clogged with promising prospects Jake Marisnick, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. Not to mention the best Marlin with a bat in 2013, Giancarlo Stanton. There simply aren’t many scenarios in which Lucas will see more playing time this season, despite being the second best in 2013.
Author: David Marcillo
David is an English teacher in Los Angeles who spends far too much time reading, thinking, and writing about baseball. He writes about real baseball here at The Runner Sports with a heavy Miami Marlins bias. He also writes about fake baseball and is in charge of the Closer Report over at Fantasy Pros.
You can follow David on Twitter: @DavidMarcillo77 or you can email: email@example.com