The left field recap each year is a time when I discuss how Starling Marte is under-rated in Pittsburgh. You would have thought that would have changed by now, especially in a year where Andrew McCutchen struggled, and Gregory Polanco stalled in his breakout campaign. But yet you still see comments about how Marte is the outfielder who should be traded for pitching, and you don't see comments about how he's one of the best players in the game.
So this is the part where we talk about how Marte ranks 20th in WAR out of 297 qualified position players from 2013-2016. The only player on the Pirates who is ahead of him is Andrew McCutchen, who still ranks 5th on the list, despite having a horrible 2016 season, which kind of shows how good he was from 2013-15. Marte is not McCutchen, but that's an incredibly high bar for anyone. And I think it's that high bar that leads to Marte being overlooked as one of the best position players in the game.
Marte has been pretty consistent from a value standpoint the last four years. He's been around a 4.0 fWAR each year, with some years higher (4.8 in 2013) and some years lower (3.6 in 2015). He's been a strong defender, ranking first this year among left fielders in UZR/150 and Defensive Runs Saved, and getting nominated for a Gold Glove award again. And he's got the offense to win a Gold Glove award, ranking in the top 50 among qualified MLB players in wOBA, wRC+, and just outside the top 50 in OPS.
On a lot of teams, Marte would be the best player. On a contending team, like the 2013-15 Pirates, he's one of the best number two guys you can have, giving a huge boost to the position player group. This year, he was the best player on the team, with McCutchen slumping. And maybe one of these years, he'll get recognized as one of the best in the game, and a big contributor for the Pirates.
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Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.