Marlins see room for growth on offense

Miami ranked 13th in NL in runs scored despite being 2nd in team average

Marlins see room for growth on offense

MIAMI -- For the most part, the names are expected to be the same for the Marlins in 2017. What the organization is looking for, especially from its position players, is overall improvement.

Without question, there was significant growth with a number of regulars. Marcell Ozuna was an All-Star, while Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto are close to achieving that status.

But when it came to the bottom line -- scoring runs -- the Marlins had their struggles. Despite being second in the National League in batting average (.263), Miami was 13th in runs scored (655).

In-game adjustments were an issue, and that is one reason the Marlins did not bring back Barry Bonds as hitting coach.

The nucleus, though, is expected to return.

"That core is real, and those guys are championship-caliber players," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.

In manager Don Mattingly's first season, the Marlins contended for an NL Wild Card spot until late in the season.

Yelich had career highs in home runs (21) and RBIs (98). Realmuto batted .303 and had a .343 on-base percentage. Martin Prado batted .305 with 75 RBIs, and Ozuna finished with 23 homers and 76 RBIs.

Realmuto's 432-foot homer

For all the individual strides made, the offense was mired by collective breakdowns. As the season progressed, the production dipped.

Take August, which turned out to be a pivotal month. The Marlins entered the month as one of two teams in an NL Wild Card spot, but they gradually began to slide in the standings. That month, Miami finished last in the NL in runs with 97. And after the All-Star Break, they were 14th out of 15 in the NL with 284 runs.

A couple of factors came into play in August. Giancarlo Stanton suffered his Grade 3 left groin strain on Aug. 13, and Justin Bour missed the month with an ankle sprain. So the club was without two power bats.

Statcast: Stanton's record homer

Late in the season, Mattingly pointed out his team seemed better prepared for the opposing starting pitchers than their relievers.

The numbers support that argument.

The Marlins were 11th in the NL in runs scored (464) in the first six innings -- usually when the starter is in the game. But scoring in the seventh inning and later -- typically when relievers take over -- they were last, with 191 runs. The Rays (187) were the only team in the Majors with fewer runs in that category.

With a more thorough approach, the Marlins believe they will see better run production across the board.

"These guys are ready to win," Hill said. "We brought the right man [Mattingly] in to lead these men. Now, it's just a matter of getting over the hump. They played meaningful games late into the season. I still firmly believe they are ready to bring a championship to South Florida."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. 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.