Youthful Marlins and Rays are on the same path

The results are in for the MLB All-Star Game rosters and both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins each got one player in and it’s a catcher. While Wilson Ramos got voted in to the American League, JT Realmuto only got in as a reserve despite having a better statistical season than any other National League catcher.

While the records and position in the standings are drastically different, the trajectories seem to be the same. Both the Marlins and Rays lead their respective leagues in rookies used this season. Marlins have used 17 while the Rays used 15 and with possible trades on the horizon, that number is expected to grow.

The only difference between them is the timing of their consistency. The Rays are currently a game over .500 and while the Marlins are at the very bottom of the NL right now because of finishing the first two months 16 games below .500, they are 17-18 since June.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly sees plenty of similarities with the Rays. Both as teams that are built around pitching and defense, who lack power and have to “scratch and claw for our runs.”

“I think we both kind of have the same identity this year for sure,” Mattingly said.

Rays manager Kevin Cash also sees the similarities between his team and the Marlins. He credits Mattingly for bringing out their youthful energy just like he tries to do with his team.

“I think they’re is something to be said with youthful energy,” Cash said. “It kind of brings itself to the ballpark every day. But to maintain that, it takes your veteran guys and it takes a good staff to do that and I think both staffs here with Tampa and obviously Don Mattingly’s staff are showing that because they’re guys play hard. We knew that coming in.”

Despite not getting a rivalry the likes of Yankees-Mets or Dodgers-Angels off the ground after two decades of playing each other, the Marlins and Rays seem more like cousins rather than rivals. A lot has changed around baseball too, which facilitates both team’s approach. When Cash played for the Rays in 2005, only four position players in their 30’s played over 100 games. Fast forward to his first season as manager in 2015 and that number remains, but the pitching staff was much younger.

In fact, the rest of baseball got younger. The Rays average age entering Opening Day was 28.22, which puts them in between the Boston Red Sox (28.37) and the New York Yankees (the youngest team in the AL at 28.04). Both teams are way ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings. The Marlins are younger at 27.85 but not the youngest team in the NL. That distinction belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies at 26.92, and they are in playoff contention.

“I think the game’s changed a lot,” Cash said.

When Mattingly first took the Marlins job going into the 2016 season, he was outspoken about the positives of working with a young team. The 2018 team takes youth into another extreme with it being the third most rookie-laden team in franchise history, but he described it to be “exhilarating” in an earlier appearance on the Dan Patrick Show.

“I like working with young players from the standpoint of I love seeing young guys develop,” Mattingly said. “I love seeing guys get better and you kind of feel like you’re helping them build their careers. I think it’s great.”

The Marlins are used to building from the ground up. The 1998 team had the most rookies on the roster in franchise history. It lead to their second World Series championship five years later. They tried again in 2006 and while it didn’t lead to a playoff appearance, they did have back-to-back winning seasons for the second time in franchise history.

“Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we’re building for us and not anybody else,” Mattingly said.


About: Tony Capobianco


Sports Kave senior writer and podcast host

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