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Buy High on Starling Marte

Starling Marte is off to an incredible start, and nobody should be surprised about it. He does not have a great walk rate, his strikeout rate is a bit concerning given that fact, and he relies on a rather high BABIP to produce – so when he runs into tough luck at the plate he won’t be much use whatsoever. Regardless, his combination of power and speed make him a player who is in for the long haul and not just an early season streak.

I expect his ISO to sit right around where it is now, around .150 if not a bit lower. ZiPS has him at 11 homers for the full season including the two he has already hit, which I think is reasonable albeit possibly on the lower end of the spectrum. He hit 17 between triple-A and the majors last year, so reaching the teens is far from inconceivable. One argument against such a high home run total is his ground ball to fly ball rate, which ranks among the top ten in baseball and was quite similar in his 167 plate appearances last season. This is more than likely a good quality for a speedster who you are really owning or looking to own for his steals. Those BABIPs should stay rather high as the righty pushes grounders into the hole and beats out infield singles. He has five infield hits already, which also ranks in the top ten in baseball.

Where his batting average settles down is the real key with Marte. He is obviously not a .327 hitter when you look at the strikeout rate and BABIP north of .400. Last year he had a relatively high BABIP at .333 and still hit just .257 for the year. This is another time I look at ZiPS rest of season numbers and agree with their projection. A .273 average for his remaining 500 or so plate appearances is fine considering the other categories he should help in. Not killing your average while not being an asset makes the stat a relative push, so if you are expecting high average and on base percentages along with the 10-15 homers and 30+ steals you are being very optimistic. But even if you drop the rate stats down, that is a very valuable player and one I would be looking to “buy high” on in most leagues.

The odds are most of Marte’s owners are extremely happy with his production so far but also willing to move him if they get a player back that valued higher on draft day. His performance is still in a small sample size so owners could be looking to cash in. My suggestion is to take advantage of that, make an quality offer for Marte and reap the spoils of a player hitting in front of one of the game’s top hitters. One type of league where I may not suggest this is a net stolen base league, since his rate has historically been sub-par. However, if your league just tallies steals with no penalty for getting caught, buy high on Marte sooner rather than later because his value will only increase.