That's right. The Miami Marlins. In the playoffs. For the first time since winning the World Series in 2003. Folks, it could and very well might happen.
The Marlins might just have one of the deepest, and most well-rounded, rosters in the National League. In the outfield you are looking at Giancarlo Stanton, masher of baseballs (NL leading 37 homers in 2014); Christian Yelich, a Gold Glover with a .362 on-base percentage (14th in NL); and Marcell Ozuna, who had a not too shabby .772 OPS last season. That is arguably the best outfield in baseball.
In the infield, the Marlins don't have any flashy players, but they have a lot of depth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia handles the catching. Around the horn, Mike Morse is out at first, Dee Gordon is at second, Martin Prado plays third, and Adeiny Hechavarria mans shortstop. The Marlins have an underrated lineup that if it produces could be dangerous against anyone.
The Marlins' rotation is solid too. They have a great top two starters in Jose Fernandez and Mat Latos. Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, and Dan Haren round out a rotation that has some young guns (Fernandez, Alvarez, and Cosart) with some veteran presence (Haren and Latos). The Marlins rotation is a good one all the way across the board and could be much better than most people think.
The 2014 Royals surprised us all by making the postseason for the first time since 1983. How did they do it? With balance all around the roster. They did not have many flashy players in the infield (Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar) and had one star in the outfield (Alex Gordon), along with two other solid outfielders (Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki). I see a real similarity between the two teams, considering that they are balanced all across the board.
On the staff, the Royals boasted James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, and Danny Duffy. Just like the Marlins, they had a good mix of veterans and young guns. The resemblances between the two teams, at least to me, are very scary.
FanGraphs projects that the Marlins will go 81-81 in 2015, posting a -4 run differential. I could see that being a modest projection for a team that could win in the 87-90 games range. The Marlins do have the best team in baseball in their division, which could cost them a few games. However, this team is built on balance and depth, and with some good performance, they could be a real surprise this upcoming season.
The Marlins in the playoffs? Start believing it.