Starling Marte has been everything a Major League Baseball lineup could want from its leadoff hitter .
Piles up hits? Check. Marte is hanging out with the big boys as he’s among the league leaders in hits with 36
Gets on base consistently? Check. Marte has hit safely in 22 of 27 games, and ten of his past eleven.
Kills it with runners in scoring position? Check.
Lefties can’t fool him? Check.
A lot of people thought Marte could be a good big leaguer–few thought it could happen this quickly.
Back in the off-season, we wrote about Marte as he was tearing up winter ball – we thought he would give Pirates fans reason for optimism this season. The critics said it’s one thing to be named MVP in the Dominican Series, it’s a completely different thing to be dominant in the bigs. It’s a fair point. It’s valid. But we counter with the fact that most of us have watched Marte much more than some of the national writers who have varied opinions on the Buccos outfielder.
Now after a month of baseball, it’s hard not to think he could carry this team. We never thought we would be able to say that this quickly.
The most important aspect of Marte’s hot start has been how consistent he’s been. The player who was signed for $85,000 by Rene Gayo has hit safely in all but five of his 27 games and has scored in seven of his last eight games.
There was just one awful game we could point to as a critique. At that point, we thought teams were starting to make adjustments, starting to pitch him differently, feed him the off speed pitches, force him to chase.
Nope – it was just a blip on the Martedar.
Marte has made some adjustments on his own, and those are the important parts of his game that we must focus on as the season moves along. You have seen him shorten his swing and dump Texas Leaguers beyond the infield when pitchers get two strikes on him, and then you watch him clap furiously as he runs to first base.
It’s as if a switch has been flipped. Marte can crush a ball out of any ballpark, but he also seems to have realized that sometimes a single is enough, too. Will he continue to try and work the bunt into his game? Does showing the bunt give him an advantage on the corners? It’s been one frustrating aspect of his game to watch.
Starling Marte fascinates us. Our snarky Indians friend sent a text yesterday… ‘it’s nice that God recreated Roberto Clemente for you.’ It made us laugh.
With Marte in the leadoff spot, the Pirates have become the “quick-strike” offense of MLB. We never want to miss a first inning, because Marte has dominated from the top spot – reaching base 18 times.
It’s imperative the Bucs receive solid contributions from their second and third men in the order, because it’s not hard to imagine the Pirates can hit opponents with a quick run due to Marte’s ability to get on base–to get into scoring position before ten… hell, even before five pitches have been thrown.
Once Marte reaches base, he has had above average success stealing bases, too. It’s one of the things that he wasn’t always proficient at in the minor leagues.
But he saved his best moment for yesterday in the House of Horrors. Marte flashed his arm and gunned down Ryan Braun at third base, but Pedro Alvarez couldn’t come up with the ball. And later in the game, when a Brewers sweep loomed, and the Pirates needed a dramatic comeback. The kid delivered a booming home run.
There isn’t much Starling Marte hasn’t done this season. Clint Hurdle said this about him.
“…it’s been fun to watch.”
But it’s what is still to come from Marte that should get Pirates fans excited.