2017 Pittsburgh Pirates Rum Bunter Staff Predictions: Marty
No offense to Andrew McCutchen, but Starling Marte has become the team’s best player. While he is not the team’s best hitter, he has turned into a great hitter. The past four seasons Marte owns a 123 wRC+ and a .347 wOBA in 2,273 plate appearances.
When you combine his offensive prowess with the fact that he is arguably the best defensive outfielder in baseball, you get the Pittsburgh Pirates’ best player.
2017 will be Marte’s first season in center field after spending his entire Major League career in left field. In left field, Marte has won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards. In 2017, Marte should be the player to beat for the Gold Glove Award in center field.
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Moving to center field will also add to Marte’s value in 2017. Center field is the most important defensive position in the outfield and the Pirates now have one of the best defenders in all of baseball in center field.
The two biggest issues that always plagued Marte early in his Major League career were striking out too often and not getting on base enough. Well, these numbers have begun to improve. In 2016 he posted a career high .362 on-base percentage. While his 19.7 percent strikeout rate was the second lowest of his career and marked consecutive seasons with a strikeout rate below 20 percent.
Starling Marte also posted a career high in slugging percentage (.456), stolen bases (47), and doubles (34) in 2016. In 2017 Starling Marte should continue to improve at the plate when you combine this with his elite defense now being in center field and he is a no-brainer pick for Pirate MVP in 2017.