Young core gives Marlins' lineup thump

Outfield trio of Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna among best in NL

Young core gives Marlins' lineup thump

With Spring Training fast approaching, will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Marlins squad each day this week. Today's topic - What's the vision?

MIAMI -- Up and down the batting order, there have been seasons of success. Among the highlights for the Marlins are Giancarlo Stanton's National League home run title in 2014, Dee Gordon's batting crown in 2015, and Christian Yelich's Gold Glove in '14.

What the Marlins are hoping for in 2017 is for enough regulars to step up so that the organization can enjoy team success. During the offseason, the front office may have been tempted to possibly trade outfielder Marcell Ozuna or shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, but ultimately the decision was made to keep the core intact.

Every club preparing for Spring Training with own vision

"One of the things that made this club so intriguing was that core group of young players," manager Don Mattingly said. "You felt like you could afford to keep it together for a few years. That window doesn't get to be five or six years. It's always a few years."

Spring Training begins for the Marlins on Tuesday at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., and full-squad practices get underway on Feb. 17.

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In assessing their situation, the Marlins used the Royals as a lesson in patience.

The Royals were faced with whether to split things up, but instead kept their core together and went to back-to-back World Series, winning it all in 2015.

The Marlins found themselves in a tough spot after the death of two-time All-Star starter Jose Fernandez in late September.

Without that imposing ace, the front office had internal discussions regarding how to move forward. They could have opted to break things down and rebuild.

Instead, they've remained committed to the regulars.

"It means a lot that we're sticking together, and becoming better as a group," Gordon said. "I think we're going in the right direction."

When Spring Training gets into full swing, the Marlins will have one of the top outfield trios in the National League -- Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna. Gordon and Hechavarria are a slick-fielding double play combination. J.T. Realmuto, who hit .303 last year, is one of the top young catchers in the game. First baseman Justin Bour, who missed substantial time with an ankle injury last year, had 23 homers in 2015, and third baseman Martin Prado paced the club with a .305 batting average.

Realmuto's game-tying jack

The organization is banking on health and better results this year. In 2016, the Marlins ranked fourth in the Majors in team batting average (.263), but were 27th in runs scored (655).

A significant change that the organization made was replacing Barry Bonds as hitting coach with Mike Pagliarulo, a former teammate and close friend of Mattingly.

"You can't be doing the buddy thing if they're not going to be able to produce for you," Mattingly said. "We are going to need him to do a great job for us and we think he will."

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.