Around the Horn: Outfield

Marlins' trio of Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna is among best in Majors

Around the Horn: Outfield

Pitchers and catchers begin Spring Training for the Marlins on Feb. 19 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad workouts get underway on Feb. 23. As the workout dates approach, MLB.com takes a position-by-position look at the 2016 Marlins. This is the final installment: Outfield.

MIAMI -- A year ago, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna were being hailed as arguably the best outfield trio in the National League, if not the Majors. In the eyes of the Marlins, they certainly were deserving of being in the conversation.

But as the 2015 season unfolded, it didn't play out that way. Injuries and inconsistencies impacted all three, and collectively, the year was frustrating and disappointing.

Marlins may exceed expectations

Stanton, 26, sustained a broken left hamate bone on June 26 and appeared in just 74 games. Ozuna, 25, got off to a slow start, was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in early July and saw action in 123 big league games. Yelich, 24, overcame early-season back issues, and after a slow start, he ended up batting .300 in 126 games.

• Around the Horn: Rotation | Bullpen | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B

In the offseason, there was speculation Ozuna would be traded for a starting pitcher. Nothing, however, reached the point where a deal was close. So now, when full-squad workouts begin for the Marlins on Feb. 23, all three will be back. Yelich is set to return in left field, with Ozuna in center and Stanton in right.

For all that went wrong last season, the organization has not lost sight that its young outfield remains one of the most talented in the game. To be considered the best outfield in the game, they'll have to prove it. The first step in doing so is having them on the field.

Stanton's injury was the most damaging for Miami. Initially, he was expected to miss four to six weeks, but he didn't return. Stanton had several setbacks during his recovery. He dealt with excessive scar tissue, and he experienced numbness in his left pinkie and ring finger.

Had Stanton stayed healthy, he may have rewritten the Marlins' single-season home run record of 42 set by Gary Sheffield in 1996. Stanton belted 27 home runs and drove in 67 runs in 74 games.

When Stanton went down, the three-time All-Star was heating up. He batted .344 with 12 home runs and 23 RBIs in June. Stanton actually was named NL Player of the Month when he was injured.

All signs point to Stanton being ready for the start of Spring Training.

At the finish of 2015, Yelich and Ozuna each started to hit their strides. Yelich, who hit .264 prior to the All-Star break, batted .342 in the second half.

Outlook: Yelich, LF, MIA

Ozuna also stepped up down the stretch. In his final 32 games, he averaged .301 with three homers and 14 RBIs. For the season, the center fielder ended up at .259 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs.

As depth, Ichiro Suzuki returns. The 42-year-old also is chasing history, as he is 65 hits shy of 3,000 in the Majors.

Ichiro initially signed with Miami in 2015 to be the fourth outfielder. He ended up leading the team in games played with 153.

In the mix for backup spots are Cole Gillespie and Derek Dietrich, primarily an infielder who could wind up playing some left field.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.