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It’s an exciting time of year for baseball fans across North America as a new season is just days away from beginning. One of the main storylines heading into the season is how improved the young Miami Marlins are expected to be.  Rewind back to 2013 when the Marlins, on the heels of a disastrous 2012 in which they spent big and got nowhere, went just 62-100 and had very little to be excited about.

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After back-to-back years in the National League cellar, nobody thought very much of Miami heading into last season. Relying heavily on its young core, the Marlins surprised everyone in 2014 and contended for a playoff spot for the majority of the season.  If not for the unfortunate injury to Giancarlo Stanton with 17 games remaining on the schedule the Marlins may have continued their strong push and made it into the playoffs.

As the Marlins prepare to kick off their 2015 campaign the expectations are that this team should absolutely be good enough to make it to the postseason. The combination of home grown young talent and free agent additions have Miami being considered as one of the potential surprise teams that could make a serious run at playing October baseball.  Here are the top reasons why the Marlins will be contenders in 2015.

Outfield One Of The Best In Baseball

Last season was a bit of a coming out party for the Marlins young core, especially its outfielders.  Everybody knew about Giancarlo Stanton but that was mostly due to what he does with his bat, not his glove.  Aside from Stanton, there was little known about Miami’s inexperienced outfield.  Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna changed that in just their first season as full-time players.

Yelich won a Gold Glove for his prowess in left field while proving solid and consistent offense at the plate. Meanwhile, Ozuna came into his own as the Marlins center fielder thanks to his surprising speed and cannon for an arm. At the plate Ozuna needs to work on his discipline but has great power and, like his fellow outfielders, can spray the ball anywhere in the ballpark.

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Solid Starting Rotation

Just like in the outfield, Miami’s starting pitchers have a great combination of youth and talent.  The rotation heading into the season will be Henderson Alvarez, Mat Latos, Tom Koehler, Dan Haren and Jarred Cosart.  Also, and perhaps most importantly, the unit will get a huge boost around the All-Star Game when the staff ace, Jose Fernandez, will return to the lineup after missing a year following Tommy John Surgery.  Though mostly unproven, the Marlins’ starting pitchers have a strong upside and few will be surprised if they end up being one of the better units in the National League.

Lineup With No Holes

One of the things that hindered the Marlins last season was that their lineup had holes in it.  There was no dedicated leadoff hitter, nobody with power to protect Stanton, no consistency at the bottom of the lineup and no speed.  Miami’s front office did a great job of addressing those issues by bringing in Dee Gordon to hit first and provide speed on the bases and Michael Morse to provide some much needed pop while hitting behind Stanton.  They also brought in Martin Prado, who along with his new teammates should give some much-needed stability to the Marlins batting order from top to bottom.

Needs Filled

As mentioned in the previous category, while the Marlins had a solid 2014 campaign they had several areas that needed improvement.  Miami’s front office went to work as soon as the season ended, first locking up Stanton before moving on to the rest of the team.  Now the Marlins come into the new season with a much different looking infield, as only shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is a returning starter from a year ago.  Second base was a revolving door for Miami last year but now there’s an everyday starter in place in Gordon. At third, Prado slides into the role with a strong reputation as a solid player both offensively and defensively.  All things considered, the Marlins should have a much improved and more stable defensive infield to go with their already stellar outfield.

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