Pittsburgh Pirates: Starling Marte the strikeout machine

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ offensive woes continue, and Starling Marte has not been much help in the leadoff spot. The left-fielder leads all the major league with 37 strikeouts, just one month into the season.

That puts Marte on pace for about 236 strikeouts, according to NBC Sports. This would easily smash Mark Reynolds 223 strikeouts in 2009.

Hopefully for the Pirates sake, Marte slows down on the strike outs, but the possibility he will fan 200 times this season is very good. He went 0-for-4 on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out twice.

Another record the Dominican native has a shot at demolishing is Bobby Bonds’ 184 strikeouts from the leadoff spot in 1970.

Currently, Marte is the Pirates best option for a leadoff hitter. The speedy youngster has scored 14 runs in 25 games.

When Marte gets on base, he is Pittsburgh’s best option to steal. This year he is 7-for-8 stealing bases after going 41-for-56 last year. Another positive is that he has walked more this year.

Neither Travis Snider nor Jose Tabata have secured the starting position, let alone could move into the lead off role. The only other option would be the highly-anticipated Gregory Polanco whenever he makes his major league debut.

The 22-year-old Polanco is destroying Triple-A pitching, and with the Pirates offense struggling, especially with production from right-field, Polanco could make it to the big league sooner rather than later. Through 23 games, he is hitting .400/.460/.644 with 4 HR and 24 RBIs.

He has long legs and takes big strides rounding the bases. Polanco can get from second to home in the blink of an eye, but he still needs to work on some basic areas like his leads and when to be aggressive.

Until the Pirates decide to bring up Polanco, Marte seems the only logical option. He needs to learn to be more patient at the plate.
If Pittsburgh wants to get back in the hunt for the National League Central they need Marte to get his OBP back up and contribute more from the leadoff spot.

When Marte can get on base, he gives the Pirates a better shot at improving run production. He is exactly the man Pittsburgh wants on the bases when Andrew McCutchen comes to the plate, but until then the Pirates will likely remain one of the worsts offenses in baseball.