Starling Marte Rated Second Among Left Fielders, Kang Among Best 3B

On MLB Network on Thursday night, they continued their rankings of the top ten players at each position. Two weeks ago, Andrew McCutchen was named the fourth best center fielder. Last week, Gerrit Cole missed the top ten list done by the Shredder, which is just their name for the picks made by a computer for the show. There were also five guests on the show and two of them placed Cole in their top ten. McCutchen also did better among the guests on the show. The Pirates came up empty at both shortstop and first base.

This week, they are covering third basemen and left fielders. I decided to start a running article, which will be updated along with the show(left fielders start at 10pm). Jung-Ho Kang was picked as the seventh best third baseman by the Shredder. The other picks from the show will be added as they are announced. Kang was ranked ahead of Matt Carpenter, Kyle Seager and Todd Frazier in the top ten. He was one spot behind Nolan Arenado and two spots below Justin Turner.

Update 9:50 PM: Vince Gennaro, who is the president of SABR, had Kang ranked #10. Bill James noted that he probably overlooked Kang for his list and he should have made it.

Mike Petriello, who is a baseball analyst for, did not rank Kang in his top ten and mentioned the injury scared him off.

Brian Kenny and Mike Lowell hosted the show and neither included Kang in their top ten.

Left fielders will be coming up soon. Starling Marte was ranked #4 by the Shredder last year.  Bill James has continually ignored Marte and talked him down each of the last two years, saying that he wasn’t even considered for the top ten. It will be interesting to see if he finally admits he is wrong, or continues to downplay Marte’s value. Stay tuned.

Update 10:45 PM: The left field program included all of the same people, except Cliff Floyd in the place of Mike Lowell.

Petriello has Marte ranked third.

Gennaro has him ranked ninth(!)

The one many people were waiting for…Bill James has him all the way up to fourth, so he is coming around on Marte finally. Gennaro may have inherited his dislike with his ranking. James did add in that the position is very weak and most of the players on the list are just average players, so he had to get a jab in, though it wasn’t directed towards Marte specifically.

Kenny mentioned he has Marte first overall, while Floyd and the Shredder will be ranking him shortly.

Update 10:55 PM: Marte ended up ranked second overall by the Shredder, falling behind Michael Brantley.

Cliff Floyd had him ranked fourth. Among the names ahead of Marte on the various lists are Brantley, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes.

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.

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Arik Florimonte

Marte has a higher career wRC+, better career defense, and has produced nearly the same fWAR (13.7 vs. 14.4 in 330 fewer games). He’s also a year younger.

Brantley has better recent history — producing 9.9 fWAR over the last two years vs. 8.0 for Marte, with two great seasons of 153 and 135 wRC+ compared with 133 and 117 for Marte.

So, I guess I could see how Brantley rates ahead, but it’s gotta be pretty close.


Based strictly on past performance, I can see Brantley being rated as a better overall left fielder than Marte. But Marte hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. Brantley has, in my opinion. Going forward, I’d much rather have Marte. The defense is phenomenal and there is more to be tapped offensively. I think Marte is really going to break out this year with the bat.


CBS Sports ranked Kang 8th for Shortstops yesterday. Go figure…


I’ll take Marte over Brantley for his better defense and slightly more power potential.


If this LF list is solely based on defensive abilities, it is laughable that Cespedes is ranked in anyone’s top 5. Yes, he has a cannon for an arm and has made numerous highlight reel throws. But, he is not a great outfielder – he often times takes poor routes to the ball, frequently bobbles the ball on line drives and grounders, and generally lacks fundamentals.


When I think about 25 mil a year for Cespedes I just shake my head. The power is great but he has very similar plate discipline to Starling Marte and his defense is just ok and will probably slide now that he is on the wrong side of 30 and a bulky guy. If Cespedes regresses to the 25 HR guy he was before 2015 and Marte becomes the 20-25 HR guy he can be there is no comparison between the two once you factor in speed and defense. Marte’s K rate has improved every year in the league. If that continues in ’16, with just a little more plate patience he could be at .300/.360/.480/.840 in 2016 and be a 25/30 guy in HR/SB. With his defense, those offensive numbers would put his value right with Cutch.


Cespedes is actually extremely fast and his defensive skill is on par with Marte- his focus however, is not. His level of hustle sure as hell is not, and if they actually measured anything called modesty, it surely would not be him either(although i’ve heard Marte is a diva as well). Marte does have a better arm and might be a tiny bit faster and is a much better basestealer


Bill James is just a security guard- what does he know about baseball?

Brian Bernard

Is there any chance the Bucs go after McGee in Colorado with pitching prospects? Clearly they got fleeced in this deal with Tampa and we can save the deal by getting a stud lefty we need.
Timm what would it take?
Garcia to start to replace Blackmon, then Yuedy Garcia as the arm from low A.
It’s a win now trade for sure but the Rocs would have a tough time turning that potential down.


I’d probably suffer from a little Prospect Separation Anxiety if Yeudy were involved in that deal.


McGee is a pipe dream – and Garcia and Garcia is not going to get that deal done. Not even close.

Kerry Writtenhouse

These shows are fun to debate, but at the end of the day, these things are completely meaningless.

Is it just me or does Bill James have the charisma of a bag of flour? He always looks like he’d rather be anywhere but there.

Arik Florimonte

God help me if I ever had to be on TV.


Comes off as very aloof….Seems like his memory is slipping as well.


If they are rating left fielders by their defensive skill, then Marte is, hands down, the very best in MLB. The total package – speed, instincts and arm strength. And I do no think we have seen his ceiling yet offensively although maybe close – .290 – .315 with 20 HRS, 20 – 25 SBs. Pirates are very fortunate to have him! (and of course Cutch & Polanco as well!)


Where did Splinter have Marte?

Bill W

Wow Marte is a turtle? These people do know that PNC is not you normal leftfield? This LF is the hardest in baseball. The game against Cinncy last year obviously showed he was out of his shell.


Just maybe…


3b rankings were pretty off of what I would’ve guessed. Turner really surprises me being that high


One of the neater lists. I was going to quibble over Frazier being ranked so low, but forgot he may miss Great American.

Not sure what to expect from Kang. I could see a sophomore slump. I could see him excelling. Right up there with Polanco in their offensive xfactors in my opinion.

Brian Bernard

Tough to rate without power at 3rdor at least limited power

Luke S

.170 ISO seems to suggest he’s got 20 HRs in him, and thats more than limited power.

Not top 5, but not bottom half. 20-25 is plenty of power at 3B.

Mike U

Not a lot of power anywhere…15 hrs is a big power surge in mlb nowadays…

Brian Bernard

Nolan aaeronado may disagree although coors is helping.

Mike U

I think he would so put up big numbers outside of coors, but outside of him and frazier, not a whole lot of pop at 3rd. I base that entirely on assumption as I’m too lazy to look up hr by position from last year…but if kang gets a full season of ab, I could see him putting up 20 hr this year.


Which was clearly smart…

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