“And there was noooooo doubt about it,” former Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Lanny Frattare used to exclaim following a victory.
With the season Starling Marte had in left field for the Pirates, there was no doubt about the 2015 Gold Glove winner taking home the award for the second year in a row.
Once again, Marte used both his arm and glove to position himself among the league leaders in the outfield by leading all of Major League Baseball in outfield assists with 17. The 17 assists Marte had in the outfield in 2016 were two more than the 15 assists he had in his first Gold Glove season, in 2015, according to statistics from MLB.com.
What’s impressive about Marte’s performance in the outfield this season is he did it in far fewer games than he did in the 2015 season. In 2016, Marte appeared in 114 games and started 111 of those for manager Clint Hurdle’s Pirates team (he missed almost a whole month with back issues), while accumulating 966-and-two-thirds innings played in the process.
In 2015, Marte appeared in 141 games for Pittsburgh, while playing in 1,186-and-one-third innings, which equates to Marte playing a little over 24 games more in 2015 than he did in 2016.
When healthy, Marte is one of the elite outfielders in baseball, and his statistics have shown it time and time again, especially with the 2016 season. It was clearly a season marred by injuries, but Marte was still still elite in all aspects of the position.
2016 saw the 28-year-old Marte reach the All-Star Game for the first time in his five-year career, as the star left-fielder put up career-highs in batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.362) and slugging percentage (.456). The performance in both the outfield and at the plate helped set the table for Marte to be among the three finalists for the Gold Glove in left field — along with the Miami Marlins’ Christian Yelich and the Cincinnati Reds’ Adam Duvall.
Of the three, Yelich had the best fielding percentage with .985 followed by Marte at .979 and Duvall at .972. Marte was last of the three in total chances, put-outs and games and innings played, however, he more than made up for it by having more assists than Yelich (5) and Duvall (8) combined.
While Marte’s season ended prematurely due to a nagging back injury, the 2016 Gold Glove reinforces the impact he has had manning left field for the Pirates since he was called up in 2012. 2016 was a career-year for the rising star, despite the fact that he was heavily limited throughout as a result of injuries.
Should Marte stay healthy for an entire season, the sky’s the limit for the 28-year-old from the Domincan Republic.
Marte is a Gold Glove away from tying former Pirate Barry Bonds for most Gold Gloves by a Pirates left fielder (3). Roberto Clemente won 12 Gold Gloves in right field, every year from 1961 through 1972; the streak ended with his death in a plane crash at age 38 following that season. If Marte can stay in good health and can continue to play at such a super high level — both on the field and at the plate — there’s no doubt he’ll easily compete for more Gold Gloves and could even eventually be an MVP-candidate, just like teammate and center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Image credit: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire