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.
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.