NightHawk Al (nighthawkal ) wrote in floridamarlins ,
NightHawk Al

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Long Ball Marlins

The Marlins are awesome so far this year.  Who would have thought?  If you told me in April that the Marlins would be 2 games out of first place in the NL East and in the Wild Card race in mid-June, I would have thought that you were 1) crazy , 2) on drugs, or 3) extremely overly optimistic.  I thought that the Marlins would suck at the beginning of the season and that they would be lucky to not finish in last place.  Instead, they are one of only 11 teams, in a 30 team league, to have a winning record.   I read somewhere that the Marlins front office may even make some moves if they're still in the race in July.   Who would have thought that after trading away Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, that the Marlins would be an even better team.  Of course, from some things I have heard, Cabrera may have been a little too much of a prima donna and that may have caused some tension in the club house.  

This year's infield of  Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Jorge Cantu may break the record for homeruns by an infield.   They may be the first team to have 25 homeruns by every member of its starting infield.   I hope that, at the very least Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla get in the All Star game.  I hope they start.  Hanley's chances of starting may be better than Uggla's chances because Uggla is competing against Chase Utley from the Phillies.  Of course, Utley plays in a hitters park.  The amazing thing about Uggla's accomplishments is that he is hitting his homeruns at Joe Robbie Stadium with that huge outfield.  Who else has a 434 foot centerfield wall?   I hope that Cantu gets in as an All Star too but it would most likely be as a backup.   Everyone should vote at least for Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla as All Stars.  Stuff the Ballot boxes to get them in the game.   

The Marlins in the past, especially their World Series years, have been a team that mostly depended on great pitching, small ball, and clutch hitting to win games.  This Marlins team of 2008 relies on the long ball.  Back in 2003, these sports broadcasters from Faux Sports Network would complain that they played a boring brand of baseball, "Small ball".  They can't use that complaint about this 2008 team.  I wonder if the new stadium at the old Orange Bowl site will be more of a hitters park.  It would be fun to watch...



Marlins' infield on pace to set home run record

Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu are on pace to set a record for most homers in a season by a team's infield.


The Marlins&quot; Dan Uggla greets teammate Jorge Cantu after his first-inning home run off the Phillies&quot; Cole Hamels on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, at Dolphin Stadium.
The Marlins' Dan Uggla greets teammate Jorge Cantu after his first-inning home run off the Phillies' Cole Hamels on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, at Dolphin Stadium.


They don't need MapQuest to point them around an infield.


Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu -- the Marlins' four infielders -- just might know the terrain better than most. That's because when they're not defending the bases, they're often rounding them.

And they are doing so at a historic clip.

Never in baseball history has one team's infielders each hit as many as 25 home runs in one season. But Jacobs, Uggla, Ramirez and Cantu are on pace to become the first foursome to pound out that many.

''It would be a nice feat to accomplish, something to remember the Marlins for in 2008,'' Cantu said.

Said Jacobs: ``I think it would be cool to have the whole infield hit 20 or 25. And if we get to 30, that's even better. It would be neat to see.''

This much is certain: it has never been seen before.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only six infield units ever -- none of them in the National League -- have had all four of its members smack as many as 20 home runs in one season.

The 1940 Boston Red Sox were the original. The 2005 Texas Rangers were the most recent and came closest to getting 25 home runs from each of their four infielders, with only shortstop Michael Young falling short at 24.

But the Marlins think they can carve out a new spot in the record books.

The four infielders aren't just on pace to finish with 20 home runs, or even the yet to be attained 25. They are shooting for the moon, launching baseballs into orbit at a clip that would leave each with at least 30.

''That's pretty reachable,'' Cantu said of the 25-homer plateau. ``Even 30 is pretty reachable at the pace we're going.''


Around the horn, here's how they're looking:

• Jacobs, the first baseman, has hit 17 home runs and is on track for 38.

• Uggla, the second baseman, has clubbed 21, which would give him a franchise-record 47 if he keeps it up.

• Ramirez, the shortstop, has knocked 15 out to put him on line for 33.

• Cantu, the third baseman, has 14 homers, a pace that would leave him with 31.

Even if the two home runs Jacobs and Cantu each have hit as designated hitters are discounted, all four are still swatting long balls at an unprecedented pace.

''It's amazing to have three guys on pace to hit 25 or more,'' Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley said. ``To think four of them are doing it is unimaginable.''

And Presley doesn't see any letup.

''Guys can go where they hit two or three home runs in a month,'' Presley said. ``But I don't see our guys doing that.''

Barring a slump, Presley said health is probably the biggest potential obstacle standing between the Marlins infielders and the record. If any one of them goes on the disabled list, their one-for-all and all-for-one attempt to make history could be derailed.

But are all the home runs a good thing?

The Marlins know the knock on them, that they're so dependent on power that they have trouble ''manufacturing'' runs with routine singles, walks and sacrifice flies. No team generates more of its runs from homers than the Marlins.

Bah humbug, says Uggla.

''Runs are runs whether they're scored by single, double or whatever,'' said Uggla, who ranks second in the majors -- one home run behind Philadelphia's Chase Utley.

'It's gotten to a point where whatever way that you do it, it's always going to be the wrong way. If we didn't hit home runs, then people would be saying, `Oh, do you think the team is going to be able to continue winning without power?' ''


And the Marlins have been winning, thanks in large part to power. They lead the majors with 106 home runs. To put that number into context, that's more home runs than the 1993 Marlins hit all season. And this season hasn't reached the halfway point.

''People can say what they want, that we don't play small ball,'' said Marlins outfielder Cody Ross. ``That's just the make-up of our team. We're going to hit home runs. Look at the Dodgers [who have 47 homers]. They're dying to have guys hit home runs. For people to complain, maybe they should look somewhere else.''

Then again, home runs aren't everything, and the Marlins infield has its faults.


While their bats may be made of silver, their gloves aren't golden. Collectively, no infield has made as many errors.

But they've managed to offset that defect with their slugging.

Heck, the Marlins aren't even sure they intimidate anyone with their power. None of the four infielders could be considered a behemoth.

''I think we're respected as a lineup because everybody knows we can hit,'' Uggla said. ``But we don't have the [Cubs first baseman] Derrek Lee, who fills up a batter's box. That guy can intimidate a pitcher. We don't have guys like Mark McGwire, guys that have pop beyond pop.''

Said Jacobs: 'I wouldn't know if we're intimidating. But there are enough scouting reports out there to know we're going to hit home runs. I think it makes the other teams say, `There's a lot of guys in that lineup you don't want to make a mistake to.' ''

The word is out.

Catcher Matt Treanor said one hitter for the Seattle Mariners, after stepping into the batter's box on Monday, turned to him and said ``You guys rake.''

He wasn't referring to the grounds crew.

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