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By: Josh Clinton

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Player Overview

The Florida Marlins are going into the 2003 season labeled for their speed, pitching, and defense. What about offense?

If you look up and down the Marlins line-up close enough, you either see what it is, or what could be. I see what could be.

Leading off one of the youngest teams in baseball, an all-star second basemen who has compiled quite a resume at only 27-years-old. With the longest hitting streak in MLB history for a second baseman (35 games long), Luis Castillo has established himself as one of the top second baseman in the game. Just last season, Castillo hit . 300+ and stole 40+ bases for the third time of his career, and has a . 287 career average. The switch-hitting Castillo was also snubbed for the National League's Gold-Glove award for second base, as the St. Louis Cardinal's Fernando Vina won. Despite his recent hip surgery, Castillo is hoping to rebound from a bad Spring Training as he did last year. He is currently batting . 196, with three stolen bases.

Second in the line-up for Florida is one of the fastest and hardest working players in all of baseball. With a career . 308 average, Pierre is almost an offensive duplicate of Castillo. In two of his three years in the Majors, the 25-year-old lefty has stolen over 40 bases. The only questions about Pierre this season will be if he can produce away from Coors Field, and how he will do batting second in the line-up, something he has never done. But unlike Castillo, Pierre is hoping to keep producing the way he has during Spring Training, batting . 344 with seven stolen bases.

Third in the Marlins line-up is arguably the best catcher in Major League history. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who spent 12 years as a Texas Ranger, is not only hands-down the best defensive catcher of all-time with 10 Gold-Gloves to his name, but also a career . 305 hitter. In his last season fully healthy, Rodriguez not only hit . 332 with 35 home-runs, 113 RBI, and 25 stolen bases, but also won American League MVP. Coming off of three injury stricken seasons with the Rangers, Rodriguez signed with Florida for 1-year and $10 Million during one of the slowest off-seasons in years. He says he is currently 100% healthy and ready to start where he left off.The Marlins are hopeful that he can be a force in a line-up that has limited power. If he succeeds, it may help open the door to new things for the Marlins.

Hitting clean-up for Florida is probably the most dangerous power threat in the line-up, defiantly not contact. A career . 262 hitter, Derrek Lee hit 27 home-runs last year for the Marlins, one away from his career high 28, which he set in 2000. Manager Jeff Torborg hopes he can develop into 40 home-run hitter this season in the fourth spot of the order. If this happens, the 6' 5" 250 lb. 27-year-old would most likely hit 100+ RBI and get well deserved attention for his defensive play with a Gold-Glove.

Fifth in Florida's line-up is a player who last year established himself as one of the best offensive and defensive third basemen in the game, winning his first trip to the All-Star game. Mike Lowell had career highs in runs scored (88), hits (165), doubles (44), home-runs (24), and walks (65) in 2002, and is hoping to continue that success in 2003. The Marlins feel that with Lowell in the line-up, they can pencil in around 25 home-runs and 100 RBI, and some more Gold-Glove caliber defense.

Hitting sixth for the Marlins is someone that can very well go from a 20/20 season last year to 30/30 this season. Just like Derrek Lee, Jeff Torborg has high expectations for Right Fielder Juan Encarnacion, and with good reason. Before joining the Marlins last July, Encarnacion was on a pace to hit 30 home-runs for the Cincinnati Reds, but slowed down after Florida acquired him for pitcher Ryan Dempster. At seasons end, Encarnacion had career highs in almost every offensive category, including home-runs (24) and RBI (85).

After spending last season as a Left Fielder for the Rockies and Rangers, the Marlins signed him to a 1-year $1.5 Million contract to bat seventh in the line-up and add some left-handed power. Todd Hollandsworth, a career . 278 hitter, hit 16 home-runs with 67 RBI last season for Colorado and Texas. The Marlins are hoping that Todd can have a full, healthy season for them, and be as consistent as usual throughout the season. Don't expect much more than what he usually produces. Maybe if he stays healthy the whole year he could hit 20 home-runs, but no more than that.

Batting last in Florida's line-up is a shortstop who was injured for most of last season, but has shown flashes of what could be. Alex Gonzalez, an All-Star rookie for the Marlins in 1999, has been on one big three year slump ever since. Last year in 42 games for the Marlins, Gonzalez hit a disappointing . 225, but was probably leading the Gold-Glove race. He attempted to stop a hard hit ground ball up the middle, missed, hit the ground and ended up dislocating his shoulder. Florida hopes that after a good winter and a solid Spring Training, Gonzalez will finally produce the way he did in his rookie year. If he doesn't, and the Marlins are in contention, he will most likely be replaced by Andy Fox. There is also the possibility of a trade. As usual, don't expect much offensively from him this season, but defensively, look out.

Projected Line-Up: Predicted Statistics

Name Pos. Avg. HR RBI SB

Luis Castillo 2B . 300+ 2+ 40+ 50+

Juan Pierre CF . 300+ 1+ 50+ 40+

Ivan Rodriguez C . 300+ 25+ 100+ 10+

Derrek Lee 1B . 270+ 35+ 100+ 20+

Mike Lowell 3B . 300+ 25+ 100+ 1+

Juan Encarnacion RF . 270+ 30+ 80+ 30+

Todd Hollandsworth LF . 280+ 20+ 70+ 20+

Alex Gonzalez SS . 250+ 10+ 50+ 10+
 

MarlinRule910

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Great article. I think he analyzed every player very well. I didn't see the predictions coming, so that was a bonus...!
 

AJBurnett34

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Yea very well written article, JC... :cool . He talked about the players very good.
 

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