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August 15, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Starling Marte and Being Wrong

by Craig Goldstein

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.

Past projection
Marte generally gets overrated in fantasy circles because of a phenomenal 2013 that saw him slash .280/.343/.441, but that belied a concerning walk rate and potential approach problems. The questionable approach has been with Marte for years, and Kevin Goldstein highlighted in 2011:

“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
It turns out that the hit-by-pitches might well be a skill, as Marte has racked up another 13 thus far in 2014. While 24 is still an aberrant figure, getting on via HBP is clearly a component of his skill set to this point. Mix in a 2.5 percentage point improvement on his walk rate, and Marte is able to offset some of the damage done by his declining batting average. It’s to Marte’s credit that he could lop 20 points off his average and 50 off his slugging and still be a useful player in fantasy circles. His volume approach to stolen bases might be a real life mixed bag, but is a fantasy blessing. While he's only swiping bases at a 74 percent clip, Marte's 23 total steals tie him for ninth in the majors, giving him obvious fantasy appeal.

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Related Content:  Fantasy,  Starling Marte

4 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


It's great to be right, but it's even more important to admit when you're wrong. That way, the process can improve. Good on you.

Aug 15, 2014 07:59 AM
rating: 0

Personally, I have no desire to own a player who is HBP magnet. Too many wrist/hand injuries.

Aug 15, 2014 09:27 AM
rating: -1

Article idea: A "heat map" of where high-HBP batters get hit. They're hit a lot because they're putting their thigh, upper arm, heavily-armored elbow, etc. in the way, and not the more fragile bits.

The modern-era HBP champ, Craig Biggio, is 10th all-time in plate appearances, and that's with 4 seasons as a catcher. In 1997 he was hit 34 times and played in 160 games. Some day, his giant elbow guard will be in Cooperstown.

Aug 15, 2014 12:28 PM
rating: 0

You can't protect the wrist. I'd like to see what pct. of wrist/hand injuries to batters were caused by a HBP.

Aug 30, 2014 01:24 AM
rating: 0
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