By Jason Shetler
After struggling as a rookie in 2012, Starling Marte performed very well in his first full season in 2013. In 2014, he became the first Pirate to steal at least 30 bases in back-to-back seasons since Tony Womack in 1997 and 1998. Marte continued to be productive again in 2015. His defense was at the forefront, as he captured the NL Gold Glove award for left fielders. Here are Marte’s last two seasons by comparison, as well as a 2016 FanGraphs projection.
2014: .291/.356/.453, 127 OPS+, 6.1% BB rate, 24.0% K rate, 4.4 WAR in 135 games
2015: .287/.337/.444, 114 OPS+, 4.3% BB rate, 19.4% K rate, 3.6 WAR in 153 games
2016 (FanGraphs): .290/.350/.461, 5.1% BB rate, 19.6% K rate, 4.9 WAR in 151 games
Marte had a better season offensively in 2014, as he produced at more of an All-Star level. His numbers last season were still above average, and he was able to cut down on the strikeouts. Defensively, Marte was decent in 2014 with a 2.9 UZR/150, a 0.4 dWAR and 10 Defensive Runs Saved, but his defense last year was just completely off the charts, as he posted a 12.1 UZR/150, a 2.0 dWAR and had a DRS total of 24, which was far and away the best mark among left fielders.
My analysis: In my opinion, Starling Marte is the best all-around left fielder in baseball right now with his good offensive numbers, his stellar defense and the ability to steal bases consistently. If Marte is able to put up the offensive figures from 2014, and continues to play Gold Glove defense like he did in 2015, then I agree with the FanGraphs projection that he could be close to a five-win player this season.