We think it’s safe to say that we all know who the MVP of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been so far this season. Our pick, and I’m sure the majority of fans out there, are all going with Starling Marte. Are you glad he’s still in town and wasn’t sent packing at the trade deadline last year?
What a season so far for the second year left fielder.
Marte came into the season with some questions surrounding him. Is he an everyday left fielder? Is he the second coming of Andrew McCutchen? Is this guy really going to be as good as the management is making him out to be? Should he be the Pirates leadoff hitter?
I’d say he’s answered all four of those questions.
So far this season, Marte has been the Pirates most consistent hitter. In the leadoff role, Marte has been unbelievable. Leading off games for the Pirates this season, Marte has batted .600/.667/.960 with an OPS of 1.627. Leadoff hitters for the Pirates in 2012 finished the season with a stat line of .184/.235/.263 and a .498 OPS (H/T to @DavidManel for the numbers.)
He’s hit five home runs this season, and has seen a little bit of a power streak this past week. He went into the Milwaukee series with only one home run. That one homer was pretty huge though, as it was the 2-run homer against the Cincinnati Reds on April 14th that gave them the lead, in a game that later resulted in a sweep of the Reds. Either way, Marte hit two home runs in the Brewers series, and followed it up with two home runs in the most recent Nationals series. If he can hit for power consistently, there isn’t much of a doubt to me that he could become one of the best outfielders in the league.
He’s currently tied for seventh in the MLB for hits, and has only gone hitless in five of the thirty games that he has played in. He’s also tied for the National League lead in stolen bases, as he has swiped ten bags.
The big deal coming into the season regarding Marte was that he wasn’t the best guy for the leadoff role. In the 47 games he played in last season for the Pirates, we saw a fair amount of strikeouts and a very limited amount of walks. In his 178 plate appearances in 2012, he only reached base eight times through walks, and struck out fifty times in that span.
The season he has put together so far for the Pirates has been awesome, don’t get me wrong, but he’s still struggling in the strikeout and walk department. He’s second on the team in strikeouts (30), and right around the middle of the leader board for walks (7).
Is he the right man for the leadoff spot? For now, I’d say yes. There’s really nobody else who could produce better. If the walk numbers increase and the strikeout numbers decrease, oh boy, this kid is going to be something else.
Marte’s defense has been solid so far this season. We are yet to see him display his ridiculous arm, and it’s only a matter of time before he embarrasses somebody trying to stretch a single into a double. He’s flashed the leather though making a couple of nice diving catches along with bringing back a couple home runs against the Dodgers and Braves this season.
The player who was signed by Rene Gayo for a paltry 85K is leading the team in almost every statistical category, and has clearly been the key player behind the team being right around the top of the National League Central. There are definitely areas that he can improve on, but for now, we can’t complain about the play of Starling Marte.
The Bucs leadoff hitter has been on a roll as of late, and some Pirate fans are now finally understanding why management did not want to give up Marte for Justin Upton or Shane Victorino or whoever at the 2012 trade deadline. We all hope the 24-year old continues to play the way he will, and if he does, there’s not much more us Pirate fans can do than sit back and enjoy the Marte Partay (@JonPGH.)