Starling Marte is 24 years old. The fact of the matter is that Starling Marte ages a bit differently than humans. See Marte is similar to a dog in that one of his years is akin to multiple regular people years. So while he’s 24 he’s actually like 30 according to photographic evidence.
Well in some ways I guess.
Marte is the object of a whole lot of projection amongst Pirates fans. Starling. In fact when addressing him by his first name Pirates fans would probably prefer you went ahead and called him STARling.
A whole lot of people are predicting a good year out of the young man, not just Pirates fans. Fangraphs ZiPS is project Marte to put up a line of .264/.310/.428. A .738 OPS and a WAR of 2.6. All pretty good numbers.
Bill James has him rated even more highly, with a line of .297/.336/.479 for a whopping .815 OPS. Pretty freaking good huh? A surefire star on our hands if he meets those numbers.
And at points in time last year he seemed like he could be that player. His numbers were very similar to those that Fangraphs projected for this season last year, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Still I think expectations need to be tempered.
Marte is a guy who has never really had good plate discipline, something that he’ll have to be careful about over a full season in the big leagues. He is also young, and a few hiccups are not only unlikely, they are probably definite.
On top of that, he probably isn’t a good fit as a leadoff man. He doesn’t walk enough, strikes out too much, and while fast isn’t the greatest basestealer. He will likely be forced into this role because he is a competent bat, and a threat to steal bases, but it’s not a great fit.
The real problem is the log jam the Pirates have created in the outfield. I’m afraid the Pirates will have a quick hook, or cycle him through the outfield depending on matchups and who the hot bat is. That’s a problem. Marte either needs to play every day in the majors or play every day in the minors. He can’t be treated like a platoon player or lose time to guys like Jose Tabata, whom the Pirates made a big investment in.
The Pirates left a lot of potential big league players on the table at the trade deadline last year because of Starling Marte. He needs to be given reps, slumps be damned. The Pirates mortgaged the present for the future, it’s a big gamble, but the Pirates can’t compound that by not giving Marte a very long, regular look.
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