Kovacevic: Marte says he isn’t respected … and he’s right ☕


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Melky Cabrera congratulates Starling Marte on his three-run home run Tuesday night. - AP

Fire everyone.

Because the two best players the Pittsburgh Baseball Club has known over the 12 years this front office has been in power ... were acquired by the previous front office.

Andrew McCutchen's universally accepted as the Pirates' best of this generation, and that's as it should be. National League MVP in 2013. Led the Pirates to their first playoffs in two decades that same year. Civic treasure. He's earned all the love and then some.

But what of Starling Marte?

Seriously, does anyone inside Pittsburgh, much less around Major League Baseball, realize what this team's had with this extraordinary talent in center field?


And no, I'm not asking just because he whacked a three-run home run in the eighth inning Tuesday night at PNC Park -- the other way off the outer half of the plate in a two-strike count, no less -- to define a 4-1 victory over the Nationals ...

... or that he punctuated the outcome, as well, with one of the finest fence-leaping catches of his career for the final out:

Let's instead take it all a whole lot further: At age 30, in his eighth season in the majors, all in the same uniform, Marte's been nothing less than his team's MVP. Not Josh Bell. Not Bryan Reynolds. Not Felipe Vazquez. Because none of those three, with all due respect, can rival the combination of Marte's contributions at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths: He's slashing .291/.303/.505 with 22 home runs, 73 RBIs, 22 for 26 in steals and seven outfield assists.

The only one of those numbers that leads the team is the steals. But that's missing the point, as he's the only one to close to the top in every category. All while putting up 513 plate appearances amid all the rigors of all that ground to cover, all that running and, for that matter, being hit by 13 pitches because he refuses to cede his strike zone.

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I asked Clint Hurdle after this game if Marte's been his most consistent performer, fully expecting some reluctance to answer.

Wow, no.

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