Giancarlo Stanton will hit 50 home runs, Jose Fernandez will strike out 200 batters, and most importantly, the Miami Marlins will win 90 games.
Fernandez, who has averaged 10.5 strike outs per 9 innings throughout his young career, and Stanton, who was on pace to surpass 50 HR’s last season before he got hurt, form the most talented duo in all of baseball, and that’s not all that the Marlins have working in their favor.
They will have speedster Dee Gordon atop the lineup and at second base, who swiped 64 bags in 2014 then followed that up with 58 bags and a .333 BA in 2015. Gordon also won the Gold Glove at second base in 2015.
Covering left field for the fish will be underappreciated Christian Yelich. Yelich, who is only 24 years old, won a Gold Glove for his defense in left field during the 2014 season and boasts an impressive .365 career OBP.
With Gordon and Yelich atop the lineup, Stanton will have plenty of runners on base to drive in with his behemoth home runs.
Meanwhile, occupying center field will be the polarizing Marcell Ozuna. After being optioned to AAA in the middle of the season, Ozuna rebounded to hit .304 with 3 HR’s and 14 RBI’s in September. Ozuna has plenty of talent and a strong September should act as a spring board to a productive 2016.
New Marlins hitting coach, and MLB home run champion, Barry Bonds also believes Ozuna has the makings of a 30 HR/30 SB caliber player.
Up the middle of the diamond, forming the double play duo with Gordon, is the slick fielding Cuban Adeiny Hechavarria. Hechavarria posted a 15.8 ultimate zone rating at SS in 2015 in only 130 games according to Fangraphs.
Hechavaria is also a valuable bat to have at the bottom of the lineup. In 2015 he hit a respectable .281, albeit with little power and poor on base skills.
The rest of the lineup is composed of formidable major leaguers Justin Bour at first, Martin Prado at third, and J.T. Realmuto behind the dish.
Bour is the guy to look out for. In his first full season in 2015 he sent 23 balls over the fence and posted a notable .262/.321/.800 slash line.
If the 27 year old Bour can repeat, or even build upon, his 2015 performance he provides much needed protection for MLB’s most imposing slugger Stanton.
The starting rotation boasts one of the most exciting young arms in all of baseball in Fernandez. The Marlins also brought in Wei-Yin Chen on a 5 year $80 million dollar deal to form a nice 1-2 punch atop the rotation.
Fernandez is now further removed from Tommy John surgery, and should only improve upon his 2015 season in which he showed he is still one of the most electric arms in all of baseball even post-surgery.
Chen meanwhile stands to benefit from a move from the AL East to the pitcher friendly NL East. For the Orioles last season he posted a 3.34 ERA across 191.1 innings. Expecting an improvement upon those numbers with the move from the NL East is reasonable.
Behind Fernandez and Chen the Marlins have formidable middle of the rotation guys in Tom Koehler and Jared Cosart.
The 5th spot in the rotation is a soft spot, but, the Marlins have plenty of options and at least one of them should emerge.
The candidates for the 5th spot are Adam Conley, Edwin Jackson, David Phelps, and Justin Nicolino. Of these 4 someone will step up and take ahold on the 5th spot and be a formidable back of the rotation starter in 2016.
The other 3, along with prospect Kendry Flores, provide plenty of depth should anyone in the rotation go down or prove ineffective.
Looming in the bullpen is a potential juggernaut of a bullpen. The bullpen was subject to a piece recently written by ESPN’s David Schoenfield.
Schoenfield noted that the Marlins bullpen logged 1,917 pitches over 95 miles per hour in 2015, more than any other team.
Kyle Barraclough. Carter Capps, Mike Dunn, Brian Ellington, and Jose Urena all average more than 94.5 MPH on their fastballs giving the Marlins plenty of heat coming out of the bullpen.
The soft-tosser of the bunch, and potential closer, AJ Ramos can brag about his 2.21 ERA over the course of the past 2 seasons.
Young superstars Fernandez and Stanton are just the starting point for the Marlins. They have a formidable lineup, a defense that boasts two former gold glovers, a rotation that’s good enough to get the job done, and bullpen that can potentially be lights out.
All of this sums up to a 90 win season for the Marlins in 2016, and a chance to supplant the dysfunction Washington Nationals and Pennant winning New York Mets atop the NL East.