By Jason Shetler
Despite playing most of his minor league games as a center fielder, Starling Marte became a left fielder when he joined the Pirates in 2012. The main reason obviously being that center field was anchored by Andrew McCutchen.
Fast forward four seasons later and Marte has established himself as arguably the best all-around left fielder in baseball. The Pirates are likely to move Marte over to center field this season. Should that be the case, here’s why he would instantly become of the top center fielders in the National League.
Last year, Marte put up an OPS of .818 along with a 117 OPS+ and continued his basestealing excellence, as he stole a career high 47 bases. The defense was stellar again, posting an 11.6 UZR/150 and 19 Defensive Runs Saved.
While the offensive numbers are good enough for a corner outfielder, they’ll be viewed even better as a center fielder, with center field still being considered a defense first position. Speaking of defense, Marte becomes an instant upgrade over McCutchen in center. The basestealing should remain consistent, as he’s stolen 30 or more bags each of the last four years. Over the next three seasons, Marte will make around $23 million, which is already a bargain for a bonafide, all-around left fielder. If he’s able to continue that success as a center fielder, it’ll not only make the deal look more fantastic, but Marte suddenly becomes one of the best at the position in the NL.