Starling Marte Gold Glove Worthy
Sep 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) and center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) and right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) react in the outfield after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. The Pirates won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Rawlings Gold Glove finalists were announced this week and a somewhat surprising list of players made the cut in the National League left field spot. Pittsburgh Pirates’ LF Starling Marte — who may be better known for his offense than his defense — was joined with Miami Marlins’ Christian Yelich and Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton.
It can be argued that all three are worthy of picking up the defensive award, but Marte may be the most deserving based on what he had around him, what is asked of him as a left fielder at PNC Park and for his above-average talent in the outfield. The left field at PNC Park is one of the more difficult to cover because of its shorter porch at the corner to its cavernous depth in left center. Marte also must make up for Andrew McCutchen’s lack of range. While McCutchen has a Gold Glove to his name, his advanced defensive metrics hardly back that up. He had an -8.6 dWAR according to FanGraphs last season and it mostly attributes to his lack of range. Marte’s dWAR was -4.5 last season while having to play a difficult corner spot. Obviously, that is not a great number, but he has more on his shoulders at his position than many other players. Meanwhile, Upton — who plays in a more traditional left field at Turner Field — posted just a -7.7 dWAR. By the numbers, Yelich (4.0 dWAR) has just an edge but also does not have the demands at his outfield position. He also has a more conventional area to cover.
Sabermetrics are not the best indicator for defense and they definitely can not be the be all end all for an award, but when all things are considered (I.E. difficulty of said position and level of defensive players around) Marte should be the winner of the Gold Glove when the announcements are made.