Lost in all the emotion of Monday night’s contest against the New York Mets was the significance of what that win meant in terms of how far the Miami Marlins have come over the last several seasons. And while the greatest significance absolutely did come from pulling together as a team in the face of devastating tragedy, fans would be remiss if they didn’t take a moment to acknowledge the following:
Right now, this is the best version of the Miami Marlins that we’ve seen since 2010.
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For a franchise long looking to find some upward momentum, it’s a milestone worth celebrating.
That 78th win pushed them past the overachieving 2014 squad that, despite the loss of their top two stars to injury, stayed relevant for much of the season. Win No. 79 on Friday only served to further underscore the superiority of this group.
For there was never any real confusion about the overachieving nature back then, except of course on the part of the Marlins front office, who dealt away a slew of top talent to supplement that roster. Talent that would have been much better spent peddling for Trade Deadline prospects in Summer 2016, as opposed to Fall 2014.
While there are plenty of factors completely beyond management’s control that conspired to keep the Marlins out of the playoffs, it can’t be denied that the failed deals of 2015 played a part.
This year’s team though has given plenty of reason to believe that they’re the very opposite of the 2014 model, resting much closer to the underachieving end of the spectrum. Even if just Justin Bour stays healthy the entire season, this team is probably still in possession of a Wild Card spot.
Reaching 80 wins would be huge for confidence going forward, only the ninth time in franchise history a Marlins team would have hit that mark. The 2010 team was the last to pull it off, topping out at 80 exactly.
Just winning the series would do it for this group, and a sweep would put them in even slightly older company:
The first winning team since 2009.
It’s absolutely possible. Thanks to the Giants winning last night, the Nationals have clinched homefield advantage in their opening round series against the Dodgers. They have nothing to gain from these final two games, save for keeping the rust off.
Even if it’s only pride, the Marlins have far more at stake.
And while I’d be remiss myself if I didn’t acknowledge how paltry such consolation is considering the loss of Jose Fernandez, this is the kind of milestone that can end up being the foundation something far greater is built upon.