Starling Marte has never been my cup of tea.

Perhaps it’s because fans clamored for the Mets to get him and put Brandon Nimmo on the bench or to an outfield corner, despite Marte not being a particularly good defensive CF. Perhaps it’s because he misses a month or more out of every season and no one seems to notice/care. Perhaps it’s because he’s made over a $100 million in this country in the 12 years he’s been here and still hasn’t become fluent in the language. Yeah, that shouldn’t bother me – but it does. Shoot, maybe even the failed drug test bothers me to at least some degree.

Despite all of that, it’s difficult not to recognize Marte’s success for the Mets in 2022. And there’s little doubt that his awful 2023 played a role in the team underachieving. But in truth, the Mets finished the year 23-22 with Marte on the bench, as DJ Stewart was significantly better than Marte last year. And that’s the thing – Marte’s value comes from his on-field production, not from any intangibles that he brings. He’s more likely to be complaining to the CF about catching a ball than being on the top step of the dugout congratulating a teammate.

Marte deserved a lot of credit for switching to right field when he joined the Mets, a position he never played previously in the majors. But let’s be honest – he’s no longer a good defensive player. Yes, he has a very good arm. But he doesn’t get great jumps on the ball, he never dives to make a play and he gets alligator arms anytime he’s near a wall. It’s one thing to give an opinion based on observation. But the numbers support the subjective point of view.

In three years as a right fielder, Marte has a (-15) OAA in 2,110.2 innings. And his numbers across the board this year are dismal. In 423.1 innings, Marte has a (-8) OAA, a (-10) DRS and a (-19.1) UZR/150. The aforementioned Stewart is better defensively in the here and now than Marte. And if given full-time ABs, he might be a better offensive player, too.

Being a good baserunner is a big part of Marte’s game and he’s been successful on all 10 of his attempts this season. But why so few attempts? It’s not like the manager is giving him the stop sign. Previously, we could attribute lower attempts due to the fact he was running in front of Pete Alonso and it just didn’t make a ton of sense to either disrupt Alonso or risk getting thrown out in front of the team’s biggest power threat. But that’s no longer the case. And when push comes to shove, if you don’t take advantage of your strength – is it really a strength?

So, Marte is actively hurting the Mets in the field and he’s not adequately making up that deficit on the basepaths. Which means it all comes down to his hitting. And thanks to a .338 BABIP, Marte has a 119 wRC+ this season. To be fair, Marte typically runs elevated BABIPs so his mark this year shouldn’t surprise us. But he’s not delivering the power that he did in the past. In his first year with the club, Marte had a .176 ISO. This year that number is down to .140 and only that high due to a double and two triples in his last five games.

Maybe Marte is about to go on an extended hot streak. That would be nice. In his last seven games, Marte has a 1.171 OPS, thanks to a .546 BABIP. Yeah, the hits are falling in for him. Perhaps he can ride this hot streak for two or three more weeks. That would surely be a big boost for the team if he could. The Mets are 6-3 in their last nine games and Marte’s production has been a big reason why.

Yet, somehow, it doesn’t seem likely to last. Francisco Lindor goes on a hot streak and it’s greeted with relief. Alonso starts hitting and the cries to extend him go back up. Mark Vientos hits and we all get excited about a youngster coming thru. Yet when Marte strings a good week together – it just feels different. Maybe that’s just my bias.

As fans, we sometimes create outlandish scenarios to make the team better. For a lot of people, that means packaging together a bunch of guys who aren’t good and somehow getting a superstar in return. At one point, my hope was that the Mets would trade Carlos Beltran and then re-sign him once he became a free agent. Now my irrational hope is that they can trade Marte, pick up a significant chunk of his remaining salary and get a guy in return who would be a top 10 prospect in their farm system.

Perhaps Marte is your favorite player and if so, please accept my apologies for running him down. It’s just my opinion that he’s not going to be a part of the next Mets team to win a playoff series. That hasn’t happened since 2015 and we want that next playoff series win to happen ASAP. Marte may not be what’s keeping the Mets from advancing in the playoffs. But it doesn’t feel like he’s propelling them forward, either. For a guy with the skills to do just about everything on a baseball field, it doesn’t feel like Marte does much of any of it here in 2024. Time catches up with every player and maybe that’s what’s happened to a large degree here this year, in his age-35 season.

Or maybe he’s just lazy.

8 comments on “A biased look at Starling Marte

  • ChrisF

    Well at least you made your bias clear. Theres reason to be concerned about Marte to be sure. His apparent lack of hustle really bothers me, although I do believe he may have long-term impacts from the groin surgeries (I guess sports hernias). While Ive not had one, a family member has and it can be agony. I suspect that has something to do with the lack of steals too.

    Marte seems to be the anti-Granny out in RF. Granny was a joy to have as a Met and always gave the sense it was 100% all the time on the field and off.

    That said, the team won 100 games recently, and in no small part it was on the back of Marte. Is that (pre-groin injury) still in there after the surgeries and in the face of the only know undefeated opponent: father time? I think it is worth keeping that aging arc in mid for Alonso. Seems Alonso could be at a huge fork in the road between long time clutch 1B then DH (in the sense of Big Papi) or more of a long descent into irrelevant.

  • TexasGusCC

    Hey, it could be worse! His name could have been Anthony Rendon or Kris Bryant (Scott Boras clients)…

    Marte was injured and then the Mets offense collapsed in 2022, so he was the whole reason why they were that good beforehand. In fact, his injury was the reason the horses turned back to rats, and stagecoach became a pumpkin, and the team hasn’t hit since.

    There are other MLB players that won’t hurt themselves, and think that having a translator gives them a few extra seconds to think about an answer for the press. In fact, most Spanish speaking elders recommend it from their experience in order to help the younger generations. Speaking of translators, maybe if Marte tries to catch that foul ball Jorge Lopez gets out of the inning unscathed and doesn’t need to throw his glove into the stands, and doesn’t rip the entire organization for putting up with me first players? As for the Bader incident, Marte was just standing there waiting. What exactly was Bader trying to pull? I have to side with Marte on that one.

    I don’t think Marte is the problem. I think the Alonso, McNeil pampering is a bigger problem. Marte isn’t a solution, but he is a smaller part of the problem.

  • Metsense

    The 35 year old Marte, after his injured 2023, is doing better than expected . He has rose above his competition in rightfield. A has an .876 OPS vs LHP and .702. OPS RHP. DJ has a .716 OPS vs RHP so a platoon isn’t justified. At this point, Mendoza is handling rightfield correctly. He is resting the veteran Marte properly.
    If Stearns could trade him without any owed for 2025, a savings of $21M ,then he should. That money could be used in the future and to stay away from the luxury tax and it’s penalties. Marte isn’t the future and in the present he isn’t a difference maker like he was in the past.

    • Brian Joura

      I hadn’t considered trading him with the thought of nothing but salary relief. Would any team take that contract, even for used fax paper? I guess it’s a possibility, although I wouldn’t want to wager on it.

  • T.J.

    My guess on Marte is that he prioritizes injury avoidance over any one play. That may be wisest for a 35+ player, even with his physique, but the optics aren’t great. He is an ok player, overpriced due to timing and a team that was win now with obvious sunken money risk on the back end (how many 30+ contracts don’t have high sunken money risk on the back end). I don’t expect much more than we now see…given that he is not marketable with that price tag, I’d like to see someone else step up at the plate so Marte can relinquish his top of the order spot to a player that has a better chance of being a piece on the next playoff team.

    • Brian Joura

      To Mendoza’s credit, he’s dropped Marte in the order – even if not to the extent that he should. He’s hitting fifth tonight. At some point, I’d like to see both Vientos and Alvarez hitting above him. Perhaps McNeil, too, in road games.

  • NYM6986

    Other side of 30 is the phrase to remember and embrace for your everyday players but not for a trade deadline pickup or bench player. Marte was brought in as one piece, not The piece. The mention of the Grandyman brought back great memories of his hard play, strong base running, hustle, and his wonderful attitude and smile.

    I too find it strange that anyone who has been here for several years and earns tons of money can’t speak enough English to appear in a press conference without an interpreter. Even Ohtani after several years and so many others. Maybe the Braves will take Marte to replace Acuna Jr. Evenif the Mets have to pony up some of next year’s salary, Marte’s departure would be addition by subtraction. Stick Vientos in a corner spot and throw McNeil some outfield games as he has shown he can handle it.
    Much will be decided by the end of this month and how close the Mets are to 500. When Marte is playing well he makes every team better. But he’s on the other side of 30 as is a lot of the roster and that can hardly ever be a good idea. Being the oldest team with the highest payroll simply doesn’t work.

  • José Hunter

    I’ve been on the other side of 30 for the majority of my life

    As for Marte’s “difficulties” with fluent English, my assessment is that it is his choice. After all, how would he communicate with his ‘mates if language was a real barrier?

    Reminds me of (the original) Big Sexy. He chose not to speak any English either, but a certain sparkle in his eye seemed to excuse it.

    That and his Large & Lovely charm

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