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Monday, December 5, 2022

Starling Marte Named Third Best Left Fielder by MLB Network

On Sunday night, MLB Network continued their top ten rankings by position. The first show was starting pitchers and the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t get any mentions among the hosts and experts. The second show was left fielders and Starling Marte was coming off a second place ranking last year by MLB Network. Marte was also named the second best left fielder by Buster Olney earlier this month.

These rankings are based on what to expect for the upcoming season. Each show has two hosts who submit their own top tens, plus a panel of experts who give their top ten. The main list for the show though, is submitted by “the Shredder”, which is just their name for the list put together by the show’s researchers based on offense and defense, using “analytic methodology”.

The left field show tonight was hosted by Brian Kenny and Eric Byrnes. Bill James, Vince Gennaro, who is the president of SABR, and Mike Petriello, who is a baseball analyst for MLB.com, were the expert panelists. There was also a fan vote for the first time this year.

Marte ranked third by the Shredder, dropping one spot. He trailed Yoenis Cespedes (who ranked first for Buster Olney) and Ryan Braun.

As for the other rankings from the hosts and experts, Marte ranked first for Brian Kenny for the second year in a row. He was second for Mike Petriello, Vince Gennaro and Eric Byrnes. Bill James had Marte third after putting him fourth last year. The fan vote ranked Marte second.

Last week MLB Network covered third basemen and second basemen. Jung Ho Kang finished eighth according to the Shredder and Brian Kenny ranked him ninth. No one else had him on their list. Josh Harrison went from fifth going into 2016, to being left out of the top ten by everyone. Next Sunday will be shortstops and first basemen.

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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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Is this a ranking based on who is the best defensive LF or all around player?


Interesting that Bill James is finally coming around on Marte. 2 years ago he left him totally off his list and said some really negative things about him.

Stanley Yip

I seem to rember the main criticism of Marte is that he struck out a lot. He only struck out 106 times in 2016 VS 131 in 2014 and 123 in 2015. It’s an improvement.


Well, Starling is certainly the best CF playing LF.


Was Quintana listed as a top ten pitcher?

Bill Harvey

Probably not.

Joe Nastasi

He better be listed among CF next year

joe s

I guess doing PEDs pays off in the long run.

Scott K

Ryan Braun > Starling Marte? I sure hope this needles Marte into having a monster season.

Stanley Yip

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but Braun is a great ball player. Douche factor aside.


When fully healthy, Braun is a 30-30 threat, and plays a passable defense in either corner OF position. Marte is a stellar defender, and a definite base stealing threat that can’t bat leadoff because if he isn’t hitting he can’t get on base.
I am not trying to promote Braun or downplay Marte, but there is a legitimate reason for Braun to be ranked above Marte. There is also equal reason for Marte to be ranked above Braun. They both provide good value to their teams, they just get there by different means.

IC Bob

For one game I would take Braun for a season I would take Marte. Braun will never play more then 120 games a season. Though Marte missed all of September the likelihood of him playing 140 or more is quite good. Braun may be a jerk but he is one of the best hitters in the NL. I can understand why some would prefer him over Marte


I don’t think Braun, clean….even when healthy is a 30-30 threat. He’s literally never accomplished this clean in his career.

Bill Harvey

Really? He went 30-16 in about 120 games last year. Hell, he could steal 30 bases against the Pirates, we can’t seem to throw him out ever.


At that rate he still would have needed 220 games to steal 30 bases, you realize that right?

Brian Z

that’s a long way off from 30-30


exactly…..he’ll never stay healthy enough to steal 30 or play enough games to do both. PED’s are a big part of that.

Bill Harvey

For the record, I am sick of the PED excuse. Players are still using, just different things. That being said, Braun is tested more than someone that hasn’t tested positive before. You can dislike him because he’s a douche, but currently, he is no more dirty than anyone else.

As a disclaimer, in my previous comment, I said when fully healthy, which means playing a full season.


Dude, they can’t even get away with OTC caffeine pills these days. Unless you know someone providing these dark meds to a major league player, I don’t really care for your satire on the subject. It’s uninformed and baseless. The players using now- get caught. Shit- the things that recent players have gotten flagged for aren’t more powerful than eating a pound of M&M’s


How many times has he actually been 30/30 since ped suspension? Its hard to call him a player that does x when hes never done x


I’ll take Marte over Ryan Fraud any day.


30 HR and a .900+ OPS is hard to overlook. Marte’s increased SB total and defense did not make up for the drop in power and absence due to injuries in 2016.


The power drop was equal with the average raising and K % decreasing and more stolen bases/game played. I think I’m alright with that. He actually PLAYED more like a leadoff hitter this year, might be time to think about putting him back at the top of the order.


He showed us promise with years of 12 HR/35 RBI, then 13 HR/56 RBI, then 19 HR/81 RBI and all of that followed by 9 HR/46 RBI in 2016. As a leadoff batter, acceptable, but not so much for the guy who batted 4th or 5th in the order about 70% of the time in 2016.

He hits for average, but how much better could he be for the Pirates if he showed a better understanding of the strike zone? Pitchers simply refused to throw him a good pitch in 2016 because he was chasing out of the zone way too much. Hitting Coaches?


Well lets look at what he did in 2016- Average up, average on batted balls in play way up- contact percentage on balls in the strike zone up, swing % down, contact percentage on balls out of the strike zone up, hard contact % way up. This is all a trade off giving up power. Shorter swing, leg kick is gone (almost) so you aren’t going to see 19 homers unless that’s what the team wants from him. He does have a good understanding of the strike zone, what he doesn’t have is great pitch recognition skills, so he’s learned how to combat that- ie make singles into doubles and make strikeouts and grounders to third into line drives.


When a ‘power drop’ comes with a career high SLG % I’m not so concerned about it. His iso was .013 below career average though. I suppose that’s something.

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