Is Starling Marte Baseball’s Most Underrated Superstar?


Pittsburgh Pirate fans know how good Starling Marte is. However, many people around baseball do not. Which leads me to ask, is Starling Marte Major League Baseball’s most underrated player?

If you ask most people around baseball who the Pittsburgh Pirates’ best player is they will almost certainly say Andrew McCutchen. This is despite McCutchen’s struggles in 2016. If not McCutchen, odds are, they would say Gerrit Cole.

A player that should get mentioned though is left fielder Starling Marte. Even though many Pirate fans realize how good Marte is, a lot of people outside of Pittsburgh do not. In my opinion, Starling Marte is one of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball.

It may sound strange to say someone who was an All-Star this season and won a Gold Glove last season is underrated, but hear me out. In my opinion, Starling Marte is teetering on being a superstar in this league. And he does not get treated that way at all.

Starling Marte made his Major League debut in July of 2012. Since debuting Marte has progressively gotten better. And, so far, 2016 has been the best season of his career.

In 514 plate appearances this season Marte has a .308/.361/.451/.812 slash line, a .348 wOBA, and a 120 wRC+. Marte’s batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage are all career highs. While his wOBA and wRC+ are both the second highest numbers of his career.

Marte also has what is tied for a career low 19.4 percent strikeout rate this season, as well as having an already career high 46 stolen bases. Marte’s 34 doubles in 2016 are also already a career high. All of Marte’s offensive accomplishments this season go without even mentioning his other worldly defense.

There is a reason Starling Marte won a Gold Glove in 2015. What is that reason? Because he is the best defensive left fielder in all of Major League Baseball. And Marte appears to be well on his way to winning yet another Gold Glove in 2016.

Marte currently leads all of Major League Baseball with 17 outfield assists. This is the second consecutive season in which Marte has led the Major Leagues in outfield assists. Marte also has an incredible 19 defensive runs saved this season, which leads the National League and is third in the Major Leagues, and a 7.0 UZR/150.

Last season Marte finished the season with 16 outfield assists. So, he has already surpassed that total this season. Also, the 24 defensive runs saved he had last season could very easily be surpassed as well.

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Due to both his offensive and defensive prowess this season, Starling Marte has a 3.5 WAR. This puts Marte in the top 15 in the National League in WAR. And when you look at the players ahead of Marte, the are all players that get talked about much more.

Starling Marte has a legitimate chance to finish the 2016 season with a batting average over .300, a slugging percentage over .450, 40+ doubles, 50+ stolen bases, and to lead the Major Leagues in outfield assists and the National League in defensive runs saved. There are very few players that are capable of putting together a season like this, and Starling Marte is one of them. In my opinion, Marte is the most underrated superstar in all of Major League Baseball.

*- All stats and defensive metrics courtesy of FanGraphs.