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Thread: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

      
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    Default Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    One thing that has really been bothering me about a lot of Pirates fans this offseason is this insane idea that the Pirates are good in left field with Starling Marte but really should have looked for a better option in right field. The fans are quick to dismiss Snider, Tabata, Sands and Presley and I'm not really sure why they do so especially considering they are willing to accept Marte starting. Taking Presley out of this discussion for a moment all the players are still young at 24 or 25 years old and all of them including Presley have very similar production at the major league level. Just look at their career wOBA at the major league level.
    .
    Marte: .316
    Tabata: .317
    Snider: .316
    Presley: .314
    Sands: .313
    .
    Marte doesn't stand out in that crowd and as I stated he is not noticeably younger than the rest of the group either since Marte is 24, Tabata is 24, Snider is 25, Sands is 25 and Presley is 27. Perhaps other ratios have been better like his ability to steal bases (SB%) or his home run ability (AB/HR).
    .
    Marte: 70.6 SB%, 33.4 AB/HR
    Tabata: 62.3 SB%, 97.5 AB/HR
    Snider: 72.0 SB%, 30.1 AB/HR
    Presley: 63.3 SB%, 41.7 AB/HR
    Sands: 50.0 SB%, 55.3 AB/HR
    .

    Well finally we may be getting somewhere Marte's rates are clearly better than 3 of the other 4 players but the other player has him beat on both accounts. Snider so far in his career has been a more efficient base stealer and has hit home runs on a more regular basis. So once again this doesn't explain why Marte is held so far above the rest of the corner outfield mix. Let's look at something else, perhaps Marte has been good in some areas of Pirates weaknesses most notably plate discipline. Below are the career numbers for each players in terms of K% and BB%.
    .
    Marte: 27.5 K%, 4.4 BB%
    Tabata: 14.7 K%, 8.1 BB%
    Snider: 26.7 K%, 7.8 BB%
    Presley: 19.2 K%, 5.1 BB%
    Sands: 23.9 K%, 10.4 K%
    .

    Marte definitely stands out here but that is for terrible reasons as he has the highest career K% and lowest career BB%. Obviously at this point the reason Marte gets excluded from this list of question marks is not because of what he has done at the major league level because it is essentially indistinguishable from the rest of the crop. So perhaps Marte was definitely more highly touted than the rest or had a stronger showing in AAA. Below are the highest ranking each player received by Baseball America going into a season and each player's career OPS at AAA.
    .
    Marte: 73rd, .847 OPS
    Tabata: 27th, .767 OPS
    Snider: 6th, .976 OPS
    Presley: NA, .851 OPS
    Sands: NA, .914 OPS
    .

    Marte looks to be right about in the middle of the pack as far as pedigree goes. So right now I've concluded that Marte has not been markedly better than any of the other players at the major league level nor does he really have a much better pedigree than the rest so the question remains why are Pirates fans giving him a free pass while criticizing the rest?
    .
    To be honest with you I've known the answer all along. Quite simply it's for the same reason fans can go from not liking Jason Bay (when he was originally acquired) to getting mad when he is traded away. Pirates fans, and sports fans in general, have a very short attention span. They are only ever concerned with the flavor of the month and only want to focus on the most recent data set. This is obviously not true of every sports fan or every Pirates fan but for quite a decent amount it is the case. Marte was better than either of those 4 players in 2012 and has less major league experience so therefore he is better than the rest and has the most room to improve or so the logic goes. There is course plenty wrong with that logic but it is essentially how the casual or I might even go so far as saying average sports fan thinks. In theory there is nothing wrong with it but in practice it leads to situations like this where a group of 5 players (or 4 if you want to discount the older Presley) have nothing discernible separating them but one is held head and shoulders above the rest of the group because he is the new guy on the scene.
    .
    The truth is any of these guys, with the possible exception of Presley, has what it takes to break out and become a starting corner outfielder in 2013 and conversely all of them could just as easily fail and be relegated to bench duty or even AAA by season's end. We are dealing with a group of players that up until this point have been league average offensively in their career. I will add a plus here for Marte as he probably has the highest floor of the bunch as his strong defense and plus speed is likely to make him at least a solid 4th outfielder even if his bat and plate discipline never develops. Then again Marte isn't too dissimilar from another outfielder the Pirates have in camp who I didn't even bother mentioning until right now, Felix Pie. He too was once a highly regarded prospect with a lot of tools who just couldn't cut it.
    .
    Look this writing isn't meant to be critical of Marte. I like him and I think he has the potential to be a very strong outfielder for the Pirates going forward but let's just say I'm a bit more realistic here. In my opinion Marte should absolutely make the 25 man roster but so should Snider and Tabata. I discount Presley because of his age and I opt to hold Sands back because his strong AAA showing has all come in the PCL so for me there is indeed something for him to prove in the International League. Marte, Snider and Tabata though have nothing left to prove at the AAA level and deserve the chance to see what they can at the major league level. It is true Tabata and Snider have gotten longer looks than Marte already but doesn't that say something about their talent if they have already received long looks in the majors despite being roughly the same age as Marte? I think people tend to forget that point, Tabata, Snider and Sands aren't players in their late 20s just looking for one last chance to break out, they are players in their early to mid 20s looking to become established just like Marte is trying to do. Ideally the Pirates would have two established corner outfielders but the truth is they don't. Less ideally but still preferable to the current situation they would have one and would let the other battle it out for playing time in the other but again they don't have that either. I'm not asking Pirates fans to be happy with what the Pirates have, all I am asking is that they know what the Pirates have and that isn't 4 question marks competing for 1 spot but rather 5 question marks competing for 2 spots.

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    battlingbucs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    First article on PSF. This is scheduled to post on my blog later today but I thought I'd share it here first. As I say in the article it isn't meant to be a slight against Marte but rather a true look at how the Pirates corner outfield situation currently looks and that is 5 unproven players trying to fill 2 openings and not 4 trying to filling 1.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Marte has not played as much as both Tabata or Presley. Think it's unfair to write him off already. I believe he will given more of a look because he's homegrown. And as far as JayBay goes, I always liked him.

    Maybe not the correct words to say write him off, but you know what I mean.

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    Default Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    I like the tools of all of these young guys.
    What I'm not crazy about is the fact that there is no power at either corner outfield spot.
    Yes, cutch brings power in center, but corner outfielders need more power.
    I don't believe that either guy will develop that power.
    You don't need all of your outfielders to hit with power, but unless they are OBP machines, two of them need to have some pop in their bat.

    Snider and Sands have both hit for more power in the minors, but I just don't know if either translates to a MLB power hitter.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    With Marte, I think a lot of it has to do with the 5 tool package he brings and the way he burst onto the scene with his first pitch homerun. We as fans almost need him to breakout to compliment McCutchen and Alvarez and to give the Pirates their big 3. Now, add that to the fact that Cole and Taillon are getting closer. Pair the what the offense could be with Marte to a pitching staff led by Cole and Taillon and the Pirates could soon be a very good team contending for a division title/pennant.

    While Marte is not considered a saviour, he is an important piece of the puzzle, a very important piece and if he comes through, the near future of the Pirates is very bright. That's why I believe Marte gets a pass.

    Once again, great read.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by battlingbucs View Post
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    The truth is any of these guys, with the possible exception of Presley, has what it takes to break out and become a starting corner outfielder in 2013 and conversely all of them could just as easily fail and be relegated to bench duty or even AAA by season's end.
    Quote Originally Posted by battlingbucs View Post
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    In my opinion Marte should absolutely make the 25 man roster but so should Snider and Tabata. I discount Presley because of his age and I opt to hold Sands back because his strong AAA showing has all come in the PCL so for me there is indeed something for him to prove in the International League.
    This is pretty much my opinion as well.

    Personally, The OF should look like (Marte - Cutch - Snider) opening day with Tabata as the 4th OF'er. Presely IMO is losing a spot on this team fast with Jerry Sands being on the roster and even Clint Robison.

    The one thing about Marte vs. Tabata for example is that someone has to bat Leadoff. This team has got to get mroe out of the Leadoff position to grow and become better and from June-September, Jose Tabata last year was the best Leadoff Hitter on this team. Better than Marte.

    I like Marte and hsi production and his minor League career suggests he's far better at getting on base than he was last year, BUT, just about every Pirates fan has written off Jose Tabata and I don't believe he should be or can be written off yet. He's still young, not near his prime, has really good plate discipline and battles some bad luck BABIP numbers.
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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmie View Post
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    What I'm not crazy about is the fact that there is no power at either corner outfield spot.
    I used to think like you but did you know that the Pirates had the 4th Highest HR numbers in the NL last year with little power from the outfield corner positions?
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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Marte has power. He can easily develope into a 20+ hr guy. I remember saying that Cutch had the ability to hit 25 hrs when he was in the minors and I was mocked by people here. I don't believe that Marte will ever be a true power hitter, but he certainly can hit more bombs than people are giving him credit for.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    First off… This is a great discussion!

    Battling Bucs brings a good question about Starling being given the head start (by the fans) as seemingly they have crowned him as the starting left fielder. What’s more, he likely is the opening day leadoff man. The Bucs are hoping to fill the gaping hole at the top of the order.

    The Pirates appear ready to give him first crack at it. That is not to say he will be able to pull it off. The Pirates have not had a legit leadoff hitter since the Dark Ages. It would appear, once again there are zero great options on the roster. It will likely come down to Starling, Jose or even Alex. All three have the speed but seem to lack the key ingredient of plate discipline.

    Whoever is the leadoff hitter on April Fool’s day at PNC this year is certainly not likely to be the same guy in Great American Ball Park in late September. By then the team will have found their best option and let’s hope that player is one who is delivering the digits in both runs scored and OBA categories.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    I'm looking forward to seeing what Bell can do with both Marte and/or Tabata. If he can get them to buy into the plate discipline thing, this may just turn out to be a good thing. Both have the ability to drive the ball as well and starting off with a man on 2nd with no outs vs no one on and 1 out goes a long way to creating offense.

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    Default Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I used to think like you but did you know that the Pirates had the 4th Highest HR numbers in the NL last year with little power from the outfield corner positions?
    I did know, and I think they need some pop put there still.
    Now, if Marte can get to the 15-20 mark, which I think is plausible, and Tabata 12-15 I think they will be just fine.
    I don't expect McCutchen to hit 35 every year, like I expect Pedro to. But he will hit his share.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmie View Post
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    I did know, and I think they need some pop put there still.
    Now, if Marte can get to the 15-20 mark, which I think is plausible, and Tabata 12-15 I think they will be just fine.
    I don't expect McCutchen to hit 35 every year, like I expect Pedro to. But he will hit his share.
    See, I disagree, Jimmie.

    I think we need to shift focus from what the traditional position is supposed to produce to filling in the holes we lack offensively on the team. Power isn't a hold this team lacks.

    Our traditional power spots in a lineup are already filled 3-4-5 have Cutch, Jones/Sanchez, Pedro. 3 spots with 30+ home run potential. What we don't have is...

    A Leadoff hitter.

    That to me is our biggest issue and our best spot to get that is from a Corner OF'er right now. Whether it be Marte or Tabata (Snider doesn't fit the profile). whether Snider is hitting 2nd or Walker (my personal preference), the Pirates need to get someone on base at at least a league average clip for the 1 spot for Andrew McCutchen. Andrew McCutchen batted .326 with RISP and .318 with runners on base. Someone batting 3rd with a .327 BA should have over 100 rbi's, and Cutch didnt.

    I dont know what league average would be for a Leadoff hitter. I saw an Article where the MLB OBA average for a leadoff hitter was .315. We need to be at least that or better. I saw a number where they used a good stat like LOBA (H+W-HR-CS), basically it is pure On Base average and the Pirates trio of (Marte-Tabata-Presley) ranked 29th in MLB last year at .254 and league average was .290

    That to me is far more important than adding more power to a team that is already Ranked #4 in MLB in the power category.

    It's been noted here as well by Magoo and BattlingBucs that another issue, a bigger issue than adding more power is geting more offensive production from the 7-8 hitters. Our 7-8 hitters were near automatic outs for at least half of the season. They weren't much better than the pitchers as they hit below the mendoza line. Now, those guys Barmes, Martin aren;t going to tear it up, but Barmes underachieved badly in April-May and Martin last year for the Yanks had a terrible year hitting. If both of those guys hit closer to their career averages, that would be a big improvement for the Pirates. it's something that the Pirates really need to have happen.
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    Default Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    And if you go back to my original post in this thread, I said I would be ok with guys that don't hit with power, if the are OBP machines.

    Michael Bourne, in my opinion, would have been a great addition to this team.
    He would have given the Pirates that guy. Cleveland got him for a great price.
    Now, I don't know if he would have taken that number to join the Pirates and have to move to left or right field.

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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmie View Post
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    And if you go back to my original post in this thread, I said I would be ok with guys that don't hit with power, if the are OBP machines.


    That's probably the expectation of at least Tabata. Marte has more power potential. I don't think he's got huge power potential. Bourne is someone that both tabata and Marte could be, so blocking them with Bourne doesn't make much financial sense. Marte and Tabata have to play at this level, so signing a corner OF'er at this stage, this year, isn't something I personally believe was in the Pirates best interest. They have Marte- Tabata- Sands-Snider .. 4 young guys unproven with potential that the Pirates needs to see if their potential shines rather than blocking them and "holding off" until later.

    but... the Pirates need at least 1 of these guys to break through and produce a specialty, whether it's hitting for average and decent power or hitting around average with average+ On Base skills. Someone definitely has to do something
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    Default Re: Why Does Marte Get A Pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    That's probably the expectation of at least Tabata. Marte has more power potential. I don't think he's got huge power potential. Bourne is someone that both tabata and Marte could be, so blocking them with Bourne doesn't make much financial sense. Marte and Tabata have to play at this level, so signing a corner OF'er at this stage, this year, isn't something I personally believe was in the Pirates best interest. They have Marte- Tabata- Sands-Snider .. 4 young guys unproven with potential that the Pirates needs to see if their potential shines rather than blocking them and "holding off" until later.

    but... the Pirates need at least 1 of these guys to break through and produce a specialty, whether it's hitting for average and decent power or hitting around average with average+ On Base skills. Someone definitely has to do something
    Lord knows the Pirates had the $48 mil, and 4 years it took for Cleveland to sign Bourn. And if we look at Starling Marte's numbers in 2011 at AA, and his numbers in 2012 at AAA and in the majors, is it realistic to be having this conversation? We have the whole lineup returning in 2012, and have added a top Catcher, and some very decent bench strength. And, if we want, they will all return in 2014 - we may add a Shortstop. The Pirates are growing a team the same way the Steelers did in the 70's, but it took the Steelers 5 years to get there. McCutchen (3), Jones (3), Alvarez (2), Walker (2), and Marte is in his first year of MLB Service in 2013. Patience. Build the foundation first, then go after specialties. 5 position players out of 8 in the last 3 years, with 5 Top 100 Prospects coming, and many more behind them. And, still a reasonable team salary level.

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