Starling Marte And The Pursuit Of 20 and 30

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DENVER, CO - AUGUST 7: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after hitting a first inning solo homerun off of Chad Bettis #35 of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 7: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after hitting a first inning solo homerun off of Chad Bettis #35 of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a long and storied franchise.  The one thing they have lacked has been members of the 20 and 30 club.

If a player has 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season, referred from now on as 20/30, the player has had a marvelous year in demonstrating both power and speed.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have a candidate in Starling Marte who could join that club this season.  The players to do so in any year dating back to 1871 according to the baseball-reference play index are as followed:

Pirates 20/30 Club
PlayerYearHRSB
Bonds, Barry19922339
Bonds, Barry19912443
Bonds, Barry19903352
Van Slyke, Andy19882530
Bonds, Barry19872532
Van Slyke, Andy19872134

That’s the entire list.  Six player seasons of 20/30 in Pirates history accomplished by two players: Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke.  Given the history, it’s surprising only two players have done it, Andrew McCutchen‘s closest year was either 2010 when he went 16/33 or 2013 when he was 21/27.  Nate McLouth was 26/23 in 2008,  Kiki Cuyler was 18/21 in 1925, Al Martin 18/38 in 1996, but not many others were close.

Of the near misses, defined by either missing by exactly one home run or one stolen base, there have only been two in franchise history:

Pirates Near Misses of 20/30
PlayerYearHRSB
Marte, Starling20151930
Bonds,Barry19891932

Bonds missed out on four straight seasons of 20/30, as his streak of three started in the playoff years.  Marte missed out in 2015 and with 17 games left in the season, Marte will be hoping to not miss out on the 20/30 club for the second time in his career by just one home run.

The Pirates center fielder currently sits at 19/31 and with 17 games left (potentially 16 if the Marlins makeup isn’t actually ever played, and not time has been announced), he should have plenty of chances to hit another home run, especially with the Kansas City Royals (seventh in home runs allowed) and Cincinnati Reds (first in home runs allowed and the game being in Cincinnati) left on the schedule.  The Pirates also will travel to Milwaukee for three and Chicago for four.  He’ll have a good chance to do so.

Here are Marte’s home runs per plate appearances and plate appearances per game for each season of his career:

Starling Marte Rates
YearHR/PAPA/G
20122.75%3.87
20132.12%4.19
20142.39%4.04
20153.00%4.14
20161.70%4.10
20172.06%4.40
20183.51%4.16
Total2.52%4.14

If Marte continues to average 4.14 plate appearances per game (his career rate) and he plays 14 of the remaining 17 (or 16), he’ll have around 58 plate appearances (STEAMER projects for 73 plate appearances in 17 games).  Using his 2018 home run per plate appearance, and it’s two home runs (0.035*58) and using his career rate, it’s 1.5 home runs (0.0252*58).  STEAMER projects Marte to hit two more home runs in 2018.

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Marte’s rate stats if he plays only 14 games the rest of the season is a positive outlook, and his projection has him at 21 home runs for the season.  Marte would have already been 20/30 if not for hitting only one home run in 33 games between July 25 and September 3, but given his full season production of a 4.0 win player (WARP), you can live with it.  Baseball is about total production.  After Gerrit Cole called Marte the only five tool player he’s played with, he has the chance to demonstrate it by becoming the third 20/30 player in club history.

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