A Sincere Thank You to Number Six: Starling Marte

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

On Monday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded beloved outfielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks. There should be one sentiment, and one sentiment only from Buccos fans to Marte: thank you.

Starling Marte signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2007 and was electric during his time in the minors. In 2011, he represented the Pirates in the All-Star Futures Game, won Eastern League Rookie of the Year, as well as the Eastern League batting title.

Marte first appeared in a Pirates uniform on July 26th, 2012. His debut took place in Houston against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel. He wasted literally no time making an impact in the Majors, sending the first MLB pitch he saw deep.

Marte became just the third Pirate ever to homer in his first at bat and the first to do it since 1961. The 23-year-old from Santo Domingo was ready to play at the MLB level.

Flash forward a year later, Marte continued to turn heads, much to the pleasure of Greg Brown.

On September 23rd of that same year, Marte helped send the Buccos to the postseason for the first time since 1992. Tied at one in the top of ninth at Wrigley Field, he grooved a pitch off Cubs righty Kevin Gregg. This would prove to be the game winning home run in one of the most memorable regular season victories in franchise history.

The win granted Pittsburgh a postseason appearance. Of course, that led to an epic Wild Card game win over Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds.

Marte continued to improve through the 2014 campaign. A walk-off blast against the Blue Jays in early May helped end an early season slump for the team and kickoff another October-bound season for Pittsburgh.

He finished the season with a batting average of .291 and an oWAR of 4.3, the highest of his career.

2015 and 2016 saw the Pirate outfielder start to gather his gold. He won his first Gold Glove Award in 2015, as well as repeating in 2016 while also earning his first All-Star appearance. Additionally, in 2015 Marte led all NL outfielders in assists, he owned the highest fielding percentage in left field, finished seventh in defensive WAR, and earned the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.

He continued to flash leather the following season but was dominant with his bat as well. Marte hit .311 in 2016, the highest batting average on the team as well as sixth in the National League. He also smashed his first career grand slam down in Cincinnati that season.

2017 would be disappointing for Pirate fans. Pittsburgh would miss the postseason for a second straight year. On top of that, Marte was suspended 80 games for a failed PED test. Marte would play just 77 games and post a .275 batting average, his lowest since 2012.

Misery continued into 2018 as the team traded away Andrew McCutchen to the Giants. Still, Marte continued to battle for his club despite the lack of success and talent around him. For a team that finished just 82-79, the Buccos had some excitement provided to them from number six.

This past season of 2019 was, well, bad. There’s no way around that. The team won just 69 games and finished dead last in the division. Still, there were some “Marte Partay’s” to be held at PNC Park.

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It wasn’t perfect, but Marte’s time with the Pittsburgh Pirates should, and will, be remembered fondly. Helping his team reach four straight postseasons, earning an All-Star appearance, securing two Gold Gloves, and racking up dozens of highlight plays are just some of the reasons he will be forever loved by Yinzers. Thank you, Starling.