Starling Marte: Key to Pirates Success
Throughout my last couple of articles I have shifted away from covering the Pittsburgh Pirates, but this article I am back to cover the main reason to their early season success. The Pirates are currently 17-14, 3 games back of NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals. The reason for the Pirates success has been because of some great pitching from their rotation and from their bullpen, combined with possibly the most overlooked talent on the team, left fielder, Starling Marte. I said in my Pirates preview earlier in the season, that the key to the Pirates success would be Andrew McCutchen, and while the load is certainly still largely on McCutchen’s shoulders, he has gotten off to a slow start by his standards, batting .250 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI. Starling Marte has been the one picking up the slack for McCutchen, and the Pirates need this from guys like Marte to be able to continue to fight as the season rolls along.
For those who don’t know much about Starling Marte, here is something you should know: He Can Do It All. That is not an understatement or hyping him up too much, because it is true. To this point in the season, Marte is batting .325 (40/123), with 5 home runs, 16 RBI, 24 runs scored, an OBP of .390, 10 stolen bases, a .528 slugging percentage, and a .918 OPS. Some pretty good numbers for a leadoff guy. As you can see, he has speed, the ability to hit for a solid average, he possesses good power, the ability to get on base, and some good defense. His statistics to this point in the season have him within the top 20, or within reaching distance of being within the top 20 in each category.
The fact that Marte is getting on base a lot, is providing chances for the likes of Neil Walker, McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Pedro Alvarez, to drive him in. One thing that a lot of successful teams have is a good lead off hitter, and Marte is proving to be able to do just that for the Pirates.
When Marte was a prospect developing within the Pirates organization, he moved quickly through the ranks of the minor leagues. A lot of scouts have said in years past that Marte could form quite a dynamic duo in the Pirates outfield with McCutchen, because of Marte’s ability to have an impact on the game of baseball in so many different aspects, something really hard to come by. With the way Marte has played thus far, I think he would be my current Pirates MVP pick, in a tight race with the closer, Jason Grilli. Marte has been so vital to the Pirates this season and assuming he can continue to keep this up, he may start to receive all star votes by the bunches, or at least, be selected to the NL All-Star team.
There is a whole lot to love about Starling Marte, especially just at age 24. Combined in the outfield with McCutchen, and until recently, a good looking Travis Snider, the Pirates have a very good outfield, perhaps one that is on the rise and could be one of the best in the major leagues by seasons end. Pirates fans have reason to be excited for the future of their team, and possibly even the excitement of a pennant race as soon as this season, expect it to be because Starling Marte is in the middle of all of it. As of right now, Starling Marte is the key to the Pirates success.