August 15, 2014
Starling Marte and Being Wrong
This won’t come as a surprise to most anyone, but I thoroughly enjoy being correct. My default form of conversation is argument/debate, and I’ll generally play devil’s advocate even if I agree with someone, as a means to ferret out why I agree, or why that point is worth making. Basically, if I’m talking to you or at you, it’s because I have a vested interest in making a point that I want you to agree with. I’m a terrible person.
What sucks (for me) is I’m wrong a lot. I don’t think the percentage is particularly egregious, but as with anyone who puts their opinions on record, those opinions are going to be wrong with some regularity. I’ve accepted that as a part of life, but it’s still hard to swallow. I often think my reasons at the time were justified, and that just because it didn’t break my way, doesn’t mean I was wrong, just that it turned out differently. This is hiding behind “the process.” I was wrong, and good reasoning at the time or not, that needs to be owned. I was wrong about Starling Marte.
“Nearly every concern about Marte revolves around his ultra aggressiveness at the plate. Last year, Marte drew just 19 unintentional walks in 129 games. He often gets himself out with quick at-bats when he swings at bad pitches. He also needs to slow the game down on the basepaths and in the field.”
That concern was something that stuck with me as I monitored Marte’s progress and it obfuscated his adjustments and success. No matter what he did over his first season-plus, I was quick to point out his meager walk total and an OBP inflated by hit-by-pitches. With 24 in his breakout 2013 campaign, I was certain we’d see regression going forward, and that his .300 OBP from 2012 was closer to his true talent level.
Why I was wrong
If we go back to his statement minor league season in 2011, we see a slash line of .332/.370/.500 with 12 home runs and 24 stolen bases. This looks like a superstar in the making, but his 3.8 percent walk rate was concerning. Given his 4.7 percent figure the year prior, it was fair to wonder if a .260 batting average would beget a roughly-.300 on base percentage. Were that the case, given the generally weak power projections, Marte might not even be a full-time starter.
The focus on defense has certainly aided Marte in that, given his defensive abilities, there is more forgiveness for weak offensive production. Still, Marte’s ability to adjust and take a more passive approach at the plate have helped buoy him more than the ebbing line for what is acceptable offensive production from a left fielder.
Future fantasy projection