At home, the Marlins are 15-5 heading into tonight’s games, the best in the Major Leagues. The last time the Marlins started out this well at home in a season was 1997, when they went on to win their first championship.
But if you’re thinking about going ahead and making World Series reservations in Miami, you might want to hold your horses. As good as this team has been at home this year, it’s been even worse on the road.
Miami is a Major League worst 2-10 when playing away from the friendly confines of Marlins Park. Combine the best home record in baseball with the worst road record, and what do you get? A mediocre ball club, and one that – while seemingly improved – is still more likely than not to miss the playoffs.
Usually teams do perform a little better playing at home. They’re staying in their own beds at night, they’re driving their own cars to the ballpark and they’re using their own facilities to get ready for the upcoming game. But they’re not usually this much better than when away from home.
The Jekyl and Hyde performance by this Marlins team is almost sideshow like. At home, Miami is averaging 6.1 runs per game, they’re batting .305 as a team and their staff has a combined ERA of just 2.87. On the road, they’re scoring just 2.7 runs per game, batting just .215 with an ERA of 4.66.
So what’s the cause? A week ago, Brave manager Fredi Gonzalez subtly suggested they may be stealing opponents signs somehow. But Gonzalez’s staff – try as they might – couldn’t find any evidence that was the case. And that doesn’t explain the difference in ERAs.
More likely, it’s the side effect of the team’s youth. Miami is the second-youngest team in baseball, with an average player age of 27.0 years old (Houston is younger by 0.3 years). It’s not a stretch to link the Marlins’ struggles on the road to the nerves, anxiety and overall poise that goes hand in hand with a lack of big league experience, especially when playing in a hostile environment.
I would expect the extremity of the Marlins’ home-road splits to lessen as the season wears on. While better than expected (some analysts have analogized them to the Pirates of 2013, who won a Wild Card berth; I don’t go that far), Miami will not continue to dominate at home the way they have through the first 30 games. And similarly, they probably won’t continue to be so feeble on the road.
But that doesn’t make the current snapshot of this their tale of two seasons any less remarkable.