The Mets have a Starling Marte problem

Starling Marte, Mets
Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets are heating up. The blue and orange have won five games in a row and have begun to climb out of the hole they dug earlier this season. They now sit just four games under .500 (33-37) and, thanks to a weak National League, are just 1.5 games out of the final wild-card spot. Despite all the recent successes, a problem has become much more glaring.

Starling Marte’s struggles in right field are becoming more and more apparent

Jun 3, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets outfielder Starling Marte (6) scores a run on a sacrifice fly by Mets outfielder Harrison Bader (not pictured) against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After an injury-riddled 2023 campaign, Starling Marte’s bat has come back to life. The 35-year-old is slashing .281/.335/.424 across 62 games with seven home runs and 28 RBIs, alongside 10 stolen bases.

However, it feels like, in exchange for the Dominican Republic native raking at the dish, Marte has faltered in the field.

On Sunday, the Mets entered the top of the eighth inning, leading the Padres 7-2 when the lead-off hitter Jurickson Profar lifted a fly-ball to right field with an 85% catch probability. Instead, the ball landed in front of Marte. It ignited a rally that included a single to right field by Luis Arraez with a 42% catch probability. The Padres rallied to cut the deficit to a one-run game before Drew Smith struck out Fernando Tatis Jr. with runners on the corners to end the inning.

This isn’t the first time Marte’s inability to make a play he should have cost the Mets. The Dominican Republic native had a chance to kill the Phillies’ fourth-inning rally in the opening game of the London series after just one run had been scored when Sean Manaea generated a fly ball to right that had a 95% catch probability. Instead, the 35-year-old let the ball hit the turf, and the Phillies scored five more runs in the inning, as they took the opening game 7-2.

According to Baseball Savant, Marte has been the worst right fielder in all of baseball in terms of runs prevented (negative nine) and outs above average (negative 10).

What can the Mets do with Marte?

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves, yankees, starling marte

The solution would appear to be to move Marte into the designated hitter role, but that won’t happen as long as J.D. Martinez is still on the roster.

Instead, the blue and orange need to evaluate what is causing Marte’s struggles in right field. Perhaps it’s the route Marte is taking to the ball, or maybe the knee issue that has twice caused him to get scratched over the past month is affecting his ability to be explosive on the first step. Time will tell if Marte can improve on the field, but for now, Marte’s play in right field is costing them games.

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