Is 2016 the year that Pittsburgh Pirates OF Starling Marte takes a huge leap forward?
This off-season the writers at Pirates Breakdown will take a look at two different sets of projections for meaningful players on the roster and give you their take on whether or not they think said player will meet, surpass, or fall below those projections. The projections for Steamer and ZiPs (created by Dan Szymborski) can be found on fangraphs.com.
When looking at the Pittsburgh Pirates, many would feel that 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen is the cog that turns the team’s run creation efforts.
If Starling Marte can take a step another forward like the one he took in 2015, he could change quite a few heads and minds in that regard. Will he take that next logical step? Let’s see what the projections have in store for the Gold Glove winner.
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Marte’s projections for 2016 in both ZiPS and Steamer are interesting in that both might expect that Marte will stay more-or-less steady year-over-year in most offensive categories. Is this a byproduct of a fair amount of uncertainty throughout the Pirates lineup, or is it perhaps an indictment on Marte’s shortcomings?
In 2015, those shortcomings were on display in a precipitous drop in a few areas. For his career, Marte actually has reverse splits against left-handed pitching, with a .311/.365/.499 triple-slash line. Across 136 plate appearances in 2015, Marte struggled against southpaws. Putting up just a .246/.296/.421 line in 2015 only tells half the story. It absolutely must be noted that Marte’s BABIP against left-handed pitching was nearly 100 points lower (.269 to .350) than it was against right-handers. BABIP is tricky because, at its core, it suggests bad luck.
However, 28 percent of Marte’s career strikeouts against left-handed pitching came in 2015, and it’s no coincidence that this past season saw his biggest number of plate appearances against them. For Marte to eclipse the stated projections here, a more patient approach against left-handers certainly would not hurt.
Overall, Marte did show about a five percent reduction in strikeout rate, down to 21.2 percent. To eclipse the plateau that the projections have lined up for Marte, he would need to show a similar jump in walk rate. With just a 4.7 percent rate, Marte still has issues drawing free passes.
Though these are just projections, Marte will need to work a bit harder if he wants to move past them and take that next step to stardom.
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