STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Josh Bell has deservedly grabbed all of the headlines in the Pirates' roller coaster 2019. That's a given. That's too bad, as Starling Marte's season has been quite worthy of attention.
No matter. People are talking about the 30-year-old center fielder now, after a solid two month stretch across May and June -- in which he slashed .301/.344/.487 with 22 extra base hits in 245 plate appearances -- set the stage for him to take the ball and run with it in July. In the month to date he is slashing .300/.318/.625.
Marte has always had his warts. Some of them amount to nothing more than perception of warts, such as knocks on his supposedly laissez-faire play at times. More concrete knocks come after his tendencies toward some awful swing and miss at stuff outside of the zone. Still that is a bit flimsy, as he has carried a strikeout rate below 20 percent -- roughly considered to be a near-average figure for hitters across MLB -- each year since 2014.
Those critics haven't had much to say about Marte's play in 2019, and he has a few small tweaks to thank for silencing the doubters.