Is it time for the valuable utility player to take ownership of a single position?"WhiteFanposts Sections News & RumorsAnalysisPodcastsProspects & DraftGame CoverageFull ArchiveMasthead Social Marlins Players on TwitterFish Stripes on InstagramMarlins Media Members Fish Stripes Best of 2018 Marlins StoriesScheduleRosterStatsCommunity Guidelines StubHub 鉁昅iami Marlins Analysis2019 Marlins Season Preview2019 Marlins Season Preview: Miguel RojasIs it time for the valuable utility player to take ownership of a single position? ESTShareTweetShareShare2019 Marlins Season Preview: Miguel RojasVia Marlins/TwitterPrior to the 2015 campaign , the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers executed a trade that was centered around second baseman DeeGordon coming to Little Havana. Gordon made an immediate impact on Miami; there’s no denying that he was as electrifying as advertised and a fan favorite. That being said, I have a question for you...Since 2017, Dee Gordon has a higher Wins Above Replacement (WAR) than MiguelRojas. True or false? False. The distinction belongs to the current Marlins infielder. Rojas has a collective WAR of 4.5, while Gordon has contributed 3.7 in that span between Miami and Seattle.Producing value on par with an average everyday player, there is a strong case to be made that Miguel Rojas should serve as the 2019 Marlins starting shortstop.How did he get here? Traded from Dodgers to Marlins on December 11, 2014.2018 MLB Stats: .252/.297/.346, 11 HR, 6 SB, and 53 RBI in 153 G2019 ZiPS Projection: .260/.307/.355, 7 HR, 4 SB, and 45 RBI in 150 GThe 30 year-old Rojas—Happy belated birthday!—matured through the Rays Wei-Yin Chen Jersey , Reds, and Dodgers farm systems as a glove-first player. He’s been a standout defender in the majors with 35 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) since debuting in 2014, with his 2018 campaign yielding a +14 DRS across 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS. As a comparison, old friend Adeiny Hechavarria has 23 DRS in the same span of time.To put it plainly, Rojas is good to great with the glove.The hope for him in 2019? That he can develop that kind of proficiency at the plate. We saw Rojas take positive strides last season. His soft contact percentage decreased from almost 28% in 2017 to 20% in 2018. Putting the bat on the ball with authority led to more homers (11 easily set a new career high). He also showed better gap-power production and turned what used to be harmless grounders into solid singles to the outfield.Rojas began elevating the ball with a noticeably different swing plane. Using Statcast data, we can illustrate how he consistently had a positive launch angle, unlike in 2017. Rojas in 2017 vs. Rojas in 2018He generally stepped-up with men on base (.733 OPS) and in scoring position (.738 OPS). On the other hand, the Venezuelan veteran would occasionally fall back into bad habits at inopportune times, hammering pitches straight into the dirt and grounding into an NL-leading 23 double plays.Miggy Ro’s aggression paid off in power production Jeff Locke Jersey , but his walk rate and on-base percentage dipped from the previous campaign. That negated some of his progress and should make him consider searching for a better balance in 2019. Spring competition for the Marlins shortstop job is a tight one, as explained in the JT Riddle preview released on Wednesday. But it’s a win-win for Fish fans—they have two solid candidates, leaving the loser of that battle as an over-qualified backup. Regardless, both Rojas and Riddle figure to get significant reps while the more tantalizing shortstops in the organization continue to refine their skills in the minors. WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — From the pitch-accompanying grunts to the pawing at the mound with his cleats, from the nine Ks to the 14 consecutive outs, Max Scherzer sure looked to be ready for the regular season.After giving up a combined eight runs over 8 2/3 innings across his preceding pair of Grapefruit League starts, Scherzer was much more Scherzer-like Saturday in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed one run and four hits in six innings, with zero walks in his next-to-last outing before taking the mound opening day against the New York Mets.“He knows it’s getting to be that time. He’s got one more outing after this and then it’s game time,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “So I expected him to go out there and do exactly what he did.”Scherzer left with a 5-1 lead, before St. Louis came back to win 8-5 by hitting a pair of homers off reliever Kyle Barraclough, then scoring five runs in the ninth off Nationals closer Sean Doolittle.Knowing that he wasn’t facing the Cardinals’ real lineup Cameron Maybin Jersey , Scherzer said, he felt he didn’t have to hold anything back or worry about tipping off how he might approach meaningful at-bats during the season. Instead, he could “really be aggressive and throw all the pitches I want to throw. Try to strike guys out. Really make this as in-season a start as possible and try to finish strong.”That he did, leaving to a standing ovation from the home crowd after striking out Tyler O’Neill for the last out of the sixth. Scherzer threw 87 pitches, 63 for strikes.Scherzer also made sure to work on particular pitches — one example: throwing his changeup out of the zone when he wants it there — and his coordination with new catcher Yan Gomes.“There’s a few small things that I still need to refine. There’s some executions that I can continue to execute a little bit better,” said Scherzer, the runner-up to Mets righty Jacob deGrom — who he’ll face in the opener — for last year’s NL Cy Young Award after going 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA. “The intensity, basically the first inning through the first five innings — to be able to be strong, especially through those five, that was a good sign today and something I look forward to taking into the regular season.”NOTES: LHP Doolittle entered in the ninth with a 5-3 lead but gave up four hits and a walk on 28 pitches, the last of which Andrew Knizner took deep for a three-run homer. Neither Martinez nor Doolittle sounded too concerned; both said the aim was to work on some offspeed pitches and throw more than he had so far this spring. Doolittle had gone four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in all Lewis Brinson Jersey , until Saturday. “I started to get a little tired,” he said. “The line is really ugly, but I kind of needed a wakeup call like that. My first four outings, I kind of slept-walked through them. … It was good to work on some stuff. Unfortunately some of it backfired. But that’s a spring training outing in a nutshell right there.” … With OF Michael A. Taylor sidelined by a strained left knee and hip, Wilmer Difo started in center field, adding yet another spot where he could be used in his role as a “super utility” player. One other place? Martinez said Difo might be his emergency catcher. As for Difo’s outing in CF against St. Louis, Martinez said: “You know what? I actually liked him. He had pretty good jumps on all the balls. So we’re going to get him back out there a few more times.”