This exact time last year, the Miami Marlins found themselves in last place (49-81) in the NL East, having been outscored by 110 runs, which was the second worst run differential in the sport.
The Fish already have 65 wins, they've only been outscored by 22 runs on the year and the good guys (minus rat fink owner Jeffrey Loria) are just four games out of a playoff spot with 31 games left to play. The math still points toward missing the playoffs -- Baseball Prospectus simulates the season every day, creating postseason probability percentages, and the Marlins still have only a 4.7 percent shot of making it -- but if you aren't already, you need to be watching the club every night.
There's long balls, unhinged announcers and excited players you haven't seen since you stopped watching when Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez departed. Alas, here are our five reasons you need to start tuning in again.
No. 5: Tommy Hutton is losing his shit every night.
And it's great. No one -- seriously, no one-- loves them some Marlins like the Marlins color commentator. In the last week, Hutton went on a rant berating Miami fans for not giving Giancarlo Stanton a standing ovation, shrieked and squealed about shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria not getting as much respect for his defensive abilities as Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, and then he morphed into Proud Papa after his guy Stanton crushed another homer.
The team's commentator since 1997, it's our privilege to listen to the unhinged Hutton.
No. 4: Adeiny Hechavarria is really fun to watch
The advanced metrics in baseball defensive numbers -- UZR and DRS -- both slot Hechavarria as a below average shortstop, believe it or not. The Marlins, though, obviously have disagreed. "They've got all these fancy numbers you measure stuff by and I guess I'm just a dinosaur," Marlins first base coach Perry Hill told Fox Sports. "I go by what I see. I know what my eyes see and my eyes tell me he's an elite shortstop." Hell, newly acquired Jarred Cosart just got here and he's already saying the same thing.
Hechavarria shows me everyday why WAR and all these #s are garbage. Best defensive shortstop I've seen period. Fish fight on 2morrow— Jarred Cosart (@JarredCosart) August 24, 2014
Either way, the dude makes at least one play every night worthy of celebrating.
No 3: Casey McGehee leads the league in balls off the wall
OK, so BOW is not an official stat, advanced metric or otherwise, but when reliever A.J. Ramos introduced the team's lineup last week, he accompanied a joke or interesting fact alongside each player. He said McGehee lead the league in BOW -- balls off the wall. Later that game, McGehee cranked one off the centerfield wall for one of his 27 doubles on the year, just one below Stanton with 28. Plus, the dude has just a great, great nickname.
He was a better player in the first half of the season but still, his production has been unexpected after he spent last year playing in Japan.
No. 2: You need to watch Henderson Alvarez at the beginning of games
Because he does this:
In honor of GIFs now playing directly on Twitter, here's the one-of-a-kind Henderson Alvarez First Pitch: http://t.co/NqVmBGvoXf— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) June 20, 2014
Alvarez told the Miami Herald that he invented it himself and that he'll only do it before the first pitch. Baller. Not to mention, even with top gun Jose Fernandez shelved for the year, Alvarez has been great this year: just a 2.57 ERA through 150 innings.
No 1: Giancarlo Stanton. Holy bleep.
Look, whether you've paid attention to the Marlins this year or not, you've heard Stanton's name in the news all year. And with good reason, obviously. Stanton might be having the best offensive season of any Marlins player ever. Stanton's not going to break Gary Sheffield's record 42 homers in a season this year but he's dominating the league in a way that's hard to grasp. Try this:
#Marlins Giancarlo Stanton leads the NL in:
WAR XBH HR RBI RProd TOB BB wOBA BABIP OBP SLG ISO OPS OPS+ TB IBB RC wRC+ WPA RE24 WPA/LI REW— Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) August 25, 2014
Enjoy him while you can, folks. Despite a fun season, Stanton answered the lingering question on everyone's mind when Yahoo! Sports asked him if this year changed anything for him, if it might sway him to stay when his contract was up.
"Five months," he said. "Doesn't change five years."