Starling Marte’s extraordinary good luck has run out.
His 2013 batting line .280/.343/.441 — .784 OPS was an illusion and – over the course of his career – will prove to be the outlier.
I warned, prior to this season, that his 2013 Batting Average on Balls in Play could almost certainly not be sustained and that his awful K/BB rate would be his undoing.
Marte had a .363 BABIP last year. Since 1950, 2,233 major league players have had at least 1,000 plate appearances. Three (3) of them – 0.13% – had career BABIPs over .360. (That’s not 13%. That is 0.13%) And only 79 – 3.5% – have had a BABIP over .330.
Marte’s BABIP has predictably taken a precipitous drop and his batting line has gone with it — all the way down to .237/.309/.365 — .674 OPS. But the news gets even worse for Marte. His BABIP is still a lucky .324 – 27 points above league average. If his BABIP were the league average for non-pitchers of .299, he would be hitting .220/.294/.341 — .635 OPS.
My pre-season projection for Marte was a .331 BABIP and a batting line that now looks a little ambitious: .256/.310/.410 — .727 OPS
Marte’s walk rate has improved this year to 6.4%, but his strikeout rate has also gone up to 27.9%. That is not close to being good. Since 1950, there are 4 players with more than 1,000 plate appearance who had career walk rates below 7% and K rates above 27% – like Marte’s 2014 rate. Their batting lines are not pretty – and each of them had a significantly better home run percentage than Starling Marte.
Danny Espinosa: .228/.299/.393 — .692 OPS
J.P. Arencibia: .208/.255/.400 – .655 OPS
Wily Mo Pena: .250/.303/.445 – .748 OPS
Brant Brown: .247/.301/.445 — .746 OPS
Pena’s and Brown’s OPS would be acceptable for Marte, but those two players had HR rates that are about twice as good as Marte’s career rate.
Pena homered once every 22 plate appearances. Brown homered once every 25.6 plate appearances. Marte has reached the seats once every 46.7 plate appearances.
What you’re seeing from Starling Marte this season – at the plate – is about what you are going to get. Unless he can maintain a BABIP better than 96.5% of major league hitters since 1950.