Coming into the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies were the odds-on favorites to win the National League East with the Atlanta Braves ready to challenge and step in should the aging Phillies fail. The rest of the division? Nothing more than punchlines and cannon fodder for the two giants.
Nobody bothered to tell the Marlins – currently sitting in second place in the NL East, scaring the crap out of the contenders with their play, not just their imposing outfielders.
The Marlins feature an excellent offense, strong bullpen, good defense, and Josh Johnson. What else, really, do you need? While Mike Stanton gets most of the attention with his tape-measure home runs and toddler-based diet, fellow sophmore Gaby Sanchez currently ranks 6th in the National League with a .415 wOBA.
As a team they own the third best offense in the NL, even without any real contribution from Hanley Ramirez and only 60 plate appearances from excellent young outfielder Logan Morrison. While Gaby Sanchez won’t keep hitting like Joey Votto, the team’s excellent offense stands to keep chugging along.
The rotation behind Josh Johnson doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence, mostly because of the schizophrenic tendencies of Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco. The vaunted durability of Javy Vasquez finally came home to roost, as his arm might actually fly clean from his body before this year is out.
The Marlins were a sexy pick from some before the season (AHEM) and currently sit comfortably in the wild card spot. A lineup without any real holes and a certified ace is not one to be ignored, the favorites in the NL East sure won’t.