— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 18, 2012
The Starling Marte topic has been discussed ad nauseam, so I won’t go into much detail on it, but it does have to be said that the Pirates are definitely doing the correct thing by sending Marte to AAA to begin the season.
Each spring, everyone goes in saying that spring training numbers are meaningless. However, every year, we end up discussing them. First off, 25 plate appearances are not enough to come up with any conclusions about any player. Secondly, 25 spring training plate appearances mean as close to nothing as nothing itself. Marte’s statistics in those plate appearances are quite impressive (.520 BA, 3 HR), but it is still just 25 spring training plate appearances.
I would say that it is never a good idea to call someone up to the Majors before getting any AAA experience, but that wouldn’t necessarily be true. There are a select few mega-talented players who can make a successful jump from AA to MLB. Not many, but a few. The majority of the players who skip AAA struggle transitioning and it presents a major step backwards in their development.
Then there is the fact that Marte still has quite a bit to work on. It is not a surprise to any of us that Marte can hit, we have known that for a while. He has hit everywhere he has been. Whether he goes 0 for 25 or 13 for 25 in spring training should not change our opinion on his talent at all. With all the hitting, though, there is still one glaring weakness in Marte’s game and that is his plate discipline. If the Pirates want Marte to be the player we hope he can become, he needs to draw more walks than he does. It does not help much if you can hit .300 but can’t get on base at a higher rate. And for those who are looking at Marte’s spring training stats as your argument for him being on the big league roster, look in the walk column. You will see a “0”.
Be patient. After all, the player Marte would be replacing in the lineup, Alex Presley, is batting .375/.412/.563 this spring. (See what I did there?)