Covering the Bases: Looking back at the 2018 Marlins

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FOX Sports Florida's Janelle Johnston takes a final look at the Miami Marlins from 2018, a season that featured the breaking out of rookie Brian Anderson, the cementing of J.T. Realmuto as the best catcher in baseball, and some flashes of brilliance from Sandy Alcantara.

[WHOOSHING] - What's up, Marlins fans? I'm Janelle Johnston for Fox Sports Florida here with the final episode of Covering the Bases for the season. Let's take a look back at 2018 starting with what's trending.


2018 was a year of transition for the Miami Marlins with many new faces taking center stage as the franchise took its first steps of a new era under the direction of Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman. With the departures of some notable bats, the team had its share of struggles at the plate. The Marlins finished last in baseball in runs and near the bottom of the league in average, on-base percentage, and slugging.

But JT Realmuto cemented himself as possibly the best catcher in the game. Rookie Brian Anderson put his talents on display at two positions. And Lewis Brinson seemed to have found his footing in September.

On the mound, 13 pitchers started a game for Miami, as several different arms got a chance to audition for a spot in the future. Jose Urena finished the year strong, going 6 and 0 with a 1.80 ERA over his final seven starts of the season. Left-hander Caleb Smith is one of the more interesting pitchers in baseball before his season-ending injury. And Trevor Richards and his changeup baffled hitters all year long.

There is no way to climb back into contention, but the Marlins look like they have taken some solid first steps.


What dog days of summer? The Marlins were their hottest when the weather was the hottest, which seems to be somewhat fitting for a team in South Florida. Miami had its best months of the season in June and July, going 26 and 27 over that span, a stretch that included three winning streaks of three games or longer.


This year's players to watch aren't too hard to guess with the first being Brian Anderson. The rookie was a sensation in 2018, showcasing his versatility when moving from third base to right field and then back again as the season went on. He can play both positions well, giving the team options when considering roster construction.

Anderson was second on the team in WAR, and his consistent performance has been overshadowed nationally by the emergence of younger players who also happen to play in the NL East. But, make no mistake, Anderson was very good in 2018, and he is a real building block for this franchise going forward.

Another newcomer who wowed the crowd this season was Sandy Alcántara. A smooth righty with a big arm, Alcántara showed flashes of the type of pitcher he can be in his Marlins debut this year.

He had a bit of a rough patch for three starts in September, but, as the cliché goes, it's all about how you finish. And the 23-year-old finished in impressive fashion. He struck out over seven innings and allowed just one run in the final game of the season. He had a good slider and changeup to go along with his electric fastball and is someone who could find himself near the top of the roster in 2019.

And, finally, what better story is there than someone thriving for their hometown team. Peter O'Brien's journey hasn't been as linear as others. He reached the Majors for a little bit with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and '16. He then spent 2017 bouncing around the minor league systems of the Reds, Royals, Rangers, and Dodgers before finally finding his home with the Marlins.

He racked up a 142 OPS-plus with four homers in just 22 games. Look for him to get a shot at winning the first base job in spring training.


The Marlins are unlikely to have as busy of an offseason as they did last year, but changes could still be on the horizon. Miami is probably not going to be a player for the big free agents, though the winter meetings December 9th through the 13th in Las Vegas this year do provide a chance for the team to make some moves.

The offseason can feel like a long time without baseball, but pitchers and catchers report in just about four months, when we'll get the first look at what the 2019 Miami Marlins might be.

Until next season, Marlins fans, I'm Janelle Johnston, and I've got your bases covered.