Starling Marte Has Been Ready And Waiting

Starling Marte stands in front of his motto.

The Starling Marte era is about to begin for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which means that many more of you will be getting to see what I have been lucky enough to be watching all season: an outstanding player who can be a star for many years.

In the field, Marte can cover just about anything.  He began the season playing mostly center field, but with the arrival of Jose Tabata, Marte has played more left field, and even a few games in right field.  Left field was not a big shift for Marte, since he had occasionally played there in the early part of the season. Right field was a bigger change, but after a few games of getting used to the different angle of the ball coming off the bat, Marte was back on track.  With his speed, he can put himself in position to catch a ball almost anywhere, and make it look easy.  That becomes even more apparent when someone other than Marte is playing his position.  You end up wondering why that other outfielder can’t get to the ball — after all, Marte was always there.

Starling Marte on third base after a triple.

The speed also plays a part in Marte’s offense.  He makes triples out of hits that would be a double for anyone else, turns singles into doubles, and reaches first base before the opposition’s infielders can throw him out.  Watching him zip around the bases for a double or a triple is a treat for fans.  It seems like he is at first base in the blink of an eye, then rounding second by the time the (mere mortal) outfielder even gets to the ball.  He’s standing on third when the infielders get the ball in their hands.

Marte began the season with a solid .276 average and an .833 OPS in April, but dropped to a .236 average and a .656 OPS in May with a brief slump.  He jumped right back up in June, with a .325 average and a .944 OPS.  He had 39 hits in 29 games, smacked 6 doubles and 5 triples, and hit 4 home runs, with a tremendous 28 RBI in the month.  Marte was named the Indians’ Player of the Month for June.

Marte kept going in July, already playing in 23 games (all of the Indians’ games this month). The beginning of July was better, with a .333 average and 17 hits, 3 triples, 3 homers, and 11 RBI.  Marte hit a little slump shortly after the All Star break, when he went 0-for-19 over 5 games.  He’s been back on track this week, going 9-for-22 (.409), including 3 doubles, one homer, and 4 RBI.

Marte is tied for second in the International League for total hits (111), and he leads the league in triples with 13 (the second place hitter has only 7 triples).  Marte is third in the IL for total bases (194).  On the downside, Marte is tied for 9th in the league in strikeouts with 91.  Now let’s see what he can do in the National League.

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Nancy Zinni

Nancy grew up in Rochester, NY, where her father indoctrinated her to the love of baseball as a small child. He taught her to keep score at the age of 5, and she hasn't stopped since. She now lives in the Indianapolis area with her husband and two sons. Nancy has followed the Indians on both the Most Valuable Network and the Bloguin group, before joining Pirates Prospects in 2011. She provides daily game recaps from Indianapolis, plus player analysis from the guys she sees live at the games.

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  • burgh_fan

    Good piece but the defense of Marte seems a little overblown. A lot of times this year when it wasn’t Marte in his position it was Gorkys. And Gorkys is one of the best I’ve ever seen at getting into position to catch a ball. If Marte is that much better than him …. I don’t have words.

  • L G

    just curious, who’d you say is faster, Marte or Cutch?
    and would you say Marte would have better success stealing bases than Cutch?

    And why does it seem the national “professionals” like Klaw and Fangraphs seem so down on him compared to local “experts”?
    Things I’ve read are
    -“Yeah, he’s fast, but his plate discipline is pretty poor so far. Maybe he’ll go on a hot streak, but he doesn’t make contact enough or have enough power to make up for the problematic approach”

    • F Lang

      Gorkys Hernandez, Cutch, Marte…tough call on the fastest of all those guys. I have seen them all up close a bunch and I think I would go with Hernandez because of his incredible first step in the OF. Marte’s plate discipline is shaky at times but is improving and he is only 23. I compare him to Soriano a lot and Soriano still doesn’t have the best discipline or eye but he still is destroying the ball and has had a great career, at the plate at least. This is a huge generalization but I feel like if Marte can keep his walks/600 AB around 40 or so and his K’s around 110-120 he is going to be fine. The power is coming more and more and he may only be a .260-.270/.320-.330 obp guy but he still should be an .800 OPS guy even with a lower obp. Factor in his arm and defense and we have a good #5 or 6 hitter for the next 6+ years. I guess we will soon find out.

      • F Lang

        Just a side note Soriano had 23 BB and 157K his 2nd season and he hit .300 and missed 40/40 by one HR…so eye and plate discipline are important but not the rule for every guy…there are those rare guys like Soriano and Vlad…Roberto Clemente…who can just hit anything thrown up there. Hope Marte can be that guy. I do think some patience will be required but they showed it with Pedro so Marte shouldn’tbe any different. Besides, it’s not like we don’t already have a bunch of guys who walk very little, K a lot but hit for power.

        • L G

          thanx for the info and reply.
          Since I haven’t seen Marte play yet, right now I’m picturing an Ichiro type guy = speed with a strong arm, with high contact rate, but with more power, higher Ks, and similiar low walks.
          mini Cutch if you will.

          remember around last year where fans pictured an OF with Tabta, Cutch, and Presley = The fastest + bestest defensive OF ever.sigh, how things change so quickly…

          • Chris O’Rorke

            hah only the people who don’t know anything about anything would ever project Presley–Cutch–Tabata … Tabata is cancer i hope he moves in a deal with Correia. Oh and Presley sucks

    • VRR Cards

      Perhaps it is because they do not see him play very often if at all.

  • Stephen Stasa

    “Watching him zip around the bases for a double or a triple is a treat for fans”. How fun will it be if he’s on first for a McCutchen triple.

    That is unless the pitcher is standing on second (though that would still be funny to see – conga line). You can’t pass another baserunner, but maybe you can push or pick him up and carry him?

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