Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Curve Balls No Longer Kryptonite for Starling Marte

Starling Marte has been red hot since returning from the Disabled List on August 5th. Over his last 32 games he has a triple slash line of .342/.402/.575. But there is more to these numbers from Marte than just a hot stretch. He seems like a completely different hitter. Marte has made adjustments to cut down on his whiffs considerably. Prior to his stint on the DL with a concussion Marte struck out 27.3% of the time. Since returning from the DL his K% has dropped to 18.2%.

The biggest factor in Starling Marte’s improved ability to make contact is better recognition of breaking balls. Curve balls are no longer kryptonite to Starling Marte. Prior to his concussion Marte whiffed on 20.4% of all breaking balls thrown to him. Since returning from the DL he has swung and missed on just 12.7% of breaking balls he has seen. Some of the improvement is simply from being more selective at the plate. But the vast majority is from recognizing the breaking pitches and adjusting his swing accordingly. Marte has cut his whiffs on swings at breaking balls from 40% to 27%. Here is the break down on Marte’s whiff rates on sliders and curve balls before and after returning from the DL on 8/5:

Breaking pitches Swings Swing Rate whiffs whiff rate whiff/swing ratio
Prior to 8/5

383 197 51.4% 78 20.4% 39.6%
After 8/5

118 55 46.6% 15 12.7% 27.3%


The numbers clearly show that Starling Marte has improved against sliders and curve balls. To me he also passes the eye test, and that has been most apparent in his recent ABs against Adam Wainwright. In the past two weeks the Pirates have faced Adam Wainwright twice. Wainwright is known for his plus breaking pitch. He has basically owned Marte the past two seasons, but in their most recent clash on September 2nd Marte took Waino deep, and Marte has not struck out against Wainwright in either of the last two games he faced him. He looks like a whole new Starling Marte…one that isn’t baffled by breaking balls.

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