On MLB Network, they are in the middle of their Top Ten Right Now, ranking the top ten players for each position in the Majors. On Thursday night, they did both the right fielders and left fielders. Gregory Polanco wasn’t even mentioned for right field, which shouldn’t be a surprise based on how deep the position is and his prolonged slump, plus no track record. For left fielders, Starling Marte was ranked fourth overall. Brian Kenny, who hosts the show, said he could see Marte moving up to the top spot in next year’s show.
Other rankings from the experts on the show had Marte all over the place and while the panel of Mike Petriello from Fangraphs, Vince Gennaro from SABR and Bill James didn’t give their top tens, they did all comment on Marte. Petriello has him in the top two, while James only seems to see Marte’s BB/SO rate and ignores everything else, so he didn’t even rank him for the second straight year. Gennaro said he had him in his top ten, but near the bottom. The co-host of the show with Brian Kenny was Eric Byrnes, who ranked Marte sixth. Kenny had him second overall, trailing only Alex Gordon.
Coming into last year, Marte was ranked sixth overall, so he has moved up the list. He ended up hitting .291/.356/.453 in 2014, stealing 30 bases and posting a 5.6 WAR, which ranked eighth in the National League.
Last week, the show named Jordy Mercer the sixth best shortstop in baseball and Andrew McCutchen was named the best center fielder.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
What really amazed me about Marte was, given it was only his first full season, he primarily hit leadoff in 2013 and he was able to generate 48 extra base hits. Combine this with the 41 SB he had that year, which I would have to believe primarily followed a single or a walk, and you have a guy, who for all intents and purposes, generated close to 90 extra base hits in his first full season coming out of the leadoff spot. I realize his strikeouts are not ideal for the leadoff spot. Even in 2014, Marte had 48 extra base hits, combined with 30 SB. Although it is a bit of a dropoff from 2013, Marte improved in other areas, such as batting avg (.280 to .291), strikeouts / walks (25/138 to 33/131), OPB (.343 to .356), SLG (.441 to .453), and even cut down the number of times caught stealing (15 to 11). I can only see Marte continually improving as time goes on. I could only wish someone like Alvarez could hit .280, let alone .291.
Mercer rated the 6th best SS in the game? I just don’t see it or there are simply not a lot of good SS in the game anymore.
There’s not many good shortstops in the game.. like 3-4.. after that the next 10 or so don’t really separate themselves apart.. I think that will change with the next wave of prospects
Once he got out of his early season slump his offense was good. His defense is unspectacular but he has good range and rarely commits an error.
Wow.. he just beat out Daniel nava.. not a lot of talent playing in left field
I went into the AS break last year still unconvinced about Marte. But after Cutch went down and Marte stepped up, he now has my loyalty.
On a completely non-Sabremetric basis, the one LF I still do not want to see step up to the plate in a key situation is Holliday. Yeah, his defense sucks. But I’ll be very happy when he no longer puts on a Cards uniform.
John: It would be helpful if PP adopted a standard WAR definition. Stick to FG or Bref.
(BTW, tried to submit that on the what-do-you-want-to-see survey and got an error message)
That’s my fault in this article, I usually say that I get the numbers from BR whenever I quote WAR stats. I put the NL ranking instead, so I figured that would put his number in context.
No worries, John. Thanks.
Bill James will probably put Ike Davis in his top 5 of 1B then.
Best part of the night was seeing the ‘shredder’ not ranking Braun.
Ooooh good one.
Just me, but I have major probs with a Player being ranked the #1 left fielder when he’s never played left.
I agree! I can only imagine Ramirez’s defense out there at Fenway Park. I don’t expect it to be good.
While I totally agree with HNIC, I do have to say, if Manny Ramirez could play a satisfactory LF in Fenway, this guy will be fine defensively.
Good chance if he can stay healthy Starling will be the number 1 left fielder this year.
I respect James, but he really comes off as aloof….refused to acknowledge marte, his response was…”really, really marte? You have him ranked!?! Have you seen his strikeout ratio? His walks”
The other guy said he’s a five tool outfielder and James said the same stuff he said last year, without acknowledging that Marte improved. I don’t think he gives Marte any credit for playing in a huge left field with above average defense
A lot more to the game than just strikeouts and walks. I don’t pay attention to what Bill James thinks.
cs: Agree with first sentence and disagree with the second. I pay attention to James, but, in this case, he is dead wrong. Marte completed his 2nd full year by improving his W/K Ratio from 5.5/1 in 2013 to 4/1 in 2014. Not what I like to see, and I hope for the improvement to continue, but anyone who can strikeout that often and still hit .291 is one helluva hitter. His pitch recognition improved, and that should result in better hitting going forward. IMO, the best defensive LF in the game averaging .285, 28 doubles, 8 triples, 12.5 HR’s, and 35 SB’s over the past two years has to be recognized as one of the best in the game. Error Bill James.
BoSox WISH they had Marte… that’s the truth.
Think ‘the other’ guy was from fangraphs and he was much more subjective with his views and opinions, James was biased towards Hanley….I get it, he works in the sox FO, but he could be a little more subtle.
Unfortunately, Saber Stats do not measure the negative attitude or destruction Hanley Ramirez brings to an organization. I would not have paid him $1 to be a Pirate.
The hosts of the show are going to post their own top tens shortly, so I’ll update the article by 11pm tonight.(Or you can turn on MLB Network)
What does Bill James know anyway?