Starling Marte lost half of his 2017 season serving an 80-game suspension following a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug. The vet improved his batting average each month, and stole 19 of his 21 bases after returning from suspension in July. He's taken at least 30 bags in his four full campaigns and should do so again. But what else will he offer? While Marte posted his career-best BB/K in 2017, it rose to just 0.32. He rarely walks, which means his stolen-base attempts are largely tied to him hitting for a high average. He's never posted a contact rate above 78.7 percent. Most importantly, he has only one season of more than 13 homers and relies on a groundball-heavy spray chart. He'll hit leadoff or second, which helps his best fantasy assets, but if the Pirates go into sell mode, Marte could find his way to a better park and/or lineup. To comfortably buy him, prospective owners must invest in extra power from their other top-end selections.
Marte (hand), who arrived to spring training three days early Thursday, says he's feeling more healthy after injury ended his Dominican Winter League prematurely, Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic reports. He was spiked on his left hand while playing for Leones del Escogido. "Sometimes, I'll still feel a tweak there," Marte said. "Not a big deal." The center fielder typically gets hit by more pitches than most batters -- he's totaled 87 HBPs in six seasons -- with nagging injuries costing him the odd game or two. Fortunately, Marte ended a disastrous 2017 (which included an 80-game PED suspension) on a high note, slashing .322/.380/.456 with three homers and eight stolen bases in 100 September plate appearances. With Andrew McCutchen traded to San Francisco, the hope is that Marte will relax in his natural center field position and rebound with a solid campaign.
Marte has been shut down from the Dominican Winter League due to a left hand injury, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The injury doesn't appear to be anything overly serious -- as it's being described as a cut -- but the Pirates decided to play it safe with the outfielder and shut him down for the short amount of time left in winter ball. Marte hit .255/.310/.396 with two homers and eight stolen bases in 28 games before being the injury. He's looking to bounce back in 2018 after a disappointing 2017 campaign that saw him play in just 77 games due to a suspension.
Marte went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and his 20th stolen base of the season Wednesday. He's 9-for-25 with two doubles and six stolen bases against Thursday starter Edwin Jackson. Marte currently boasts a seven-game hitting streak during which he's batting .458 in 24 at-bats. He's also swiped five bags over that span.
Marte stole his fifth base in four games Friday, going 1-for-3 with a run scored against the Cardinals. He has six hits in his last 15 at-bats for a mostly listless Pirates squad. With 19 steals, Marte seems to be a lock to reach 20 stolen bases for the fifth straight season. He's batting .308 in 26 career at-bats against Saturday starter Lance Lynn.
Marte went 2-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases in his return from a finger injury Tuesday. After missing nearly a week, Marte stole his 17th and 18th bases of the season. The outfielder will look to pad his stats after an 80-game suspension and should reach 20 steals with little trouble. He also has an outside chance of beating the nine homers he hit in 2016. Marte currently sits at six home runs.