These last few days have been terribly slow in terms of Marlins-related news. With no clear clues about the search for a new manager or the potential new acquisitions for the 2013 roster, I guess it’s time to make another comparison between our Marlins and some NPB players.
Today, instead of just one name -so long, Ozzie-, we’ll be testing three: Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Ruggiano and Logan Morrison.
Stanton can be compared to Ralph Bryant. Aside from their different handedness -right vs. left-, both can be defined as true boom-or-bust hitters with tremendous power, but incapable of drawing walks at a consistent level. Bryant, in fact, has the all-time NPB record for whiffs in a season -204 in 1993, against just 49 walks-, while Mr. Monsterdong’s 143 Ks -only 46 free passes- led all Marlins players this season. A defensive comparison isn’t possible, since Stanton played the outfield with decent results, while Ralph was mostly slotted at the DH spot during his eight-year stint with the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
In terms of raw strength, both are on similar levels. Giancarlo has made himself a fan favorite thanks to some prodigious bombs -well over 470 ft. on the road, easily clearing the center field wall at home, while Bryant’s shot off the Tokyo Dome speakers would’ve gone more than 520 ft. if unimpeded. And with no wind, ladies and gentlemen.
Ruggiano was, by far, the biggest surprise of the season for Miami. His scrappy, intense and old-fashioned playing style reminded me of Boomer Wells -the infielder, not the pitcher-. Much like J.R., Wells was a AAAA player for most of his early career and struggled in his limited chances in the Majors. But a change of scenery put him back on the radar. Boomer went to Japan and played for a decade with Hankyu/Orix and Fukuoka, becoming the first foreigner in NPB history to win a Triple Crown -1984- and also capturing two gold Gloves as a first baseman, while frightening everyone who got in his way -especially catchers- thanks to his massive 6’6″, 260-pound frame. Ruggiano had his first at-bat in the NL with the Fish after being acquired from the Houston Astros’ minor league system and hasn’t looked back since then, showing an impressive mix of speed, power, defense and clutch hitting. Nobody gave a dime for him, but he silenced all his critics thanks to an impressive half-season in the aquarium, earning serious points for being a regular member of the 2013 lineup.
LoMo is somewhat of a question mark in this analysis. It’s not about what he is right now, but about what he can aspire to be if he focuses on playing baseball like a professional instead of tweeting nonsensical stuff. Two words come to mind for comparison purposes: Yasuaki Taiho. Like Morrison, he was a temperamental left-handed first baseman who also played the outfield -and was terrible at it, too-. Both base their game on hitting with power, but with a different approach. Taiho was an atrocious baserunner, but compensated his lack of wheels with good contact -especially against southpaws- and plate discipline. He even carried his skills to the pinch-hitting role during the latter part of his 14-year career. The Twitter King certainly has room to improve as a first baseman, but he’ll have to forfeit his title -much to his chagrin- and start focusing on the finer points of hitting, fielding and pitch recognition, while also avoiding knee injuries. In simple terms, he has to return to his 2010 form whose OBP was slightly below .400, mainly because good sluggers know how to draw walks in addition to crushing baseballs. By doing this, Morrison would become a bigger threat in the lineup and improve the Marlins offense by several notches.