The Marte “Partay” is taking the city of Pittsburgh by storm this year, and often the party is taking place on the infield. Starling Marte is beating out infield singles at an historic rate. Marte already has 22 infield singles (bunts not included). That puts him on a pace to beat out 54 infield hits this year. Only one other player has topped 50 infield hits in a season – Ichiro Suzuki has accomplished the feat three times. Ichiro’s highest total was 57 in 2004. Other than Ichiro only Nori Aoki, Hunter Pence, and Luis Castillo have managed to top 40 infield hits since the statistic was first tracked in 2003.
Ichiro is the gold standard for collecting infield hits, but he has never beaten out a higher percentage of ground balls as Starling Marte has this season. Marte’s infield hit percentage (IFH%) is at whopping 20.6%. The best percentage Ichiro ever produced was 16.0% in 2009. Marte is beating out 1 out of every 5 ground balls hit to infielders. Amazingly, that isn’t even the best in Major League Baseball this season. Cubs phenom Kris Bryant has a 27.1% IFH%. It is starting to look like 2015 might be the year of the infield hit. Bryant, Marte, and Brett Lawrie all have a higher IFH% this season than any qualified hitter has produced since 2003. Here is a look at the top 10:
Even if Starling Marte’s infield hit percentage regresses to his career rate of 13.5%, that is still a very healthy percentage. League average is less than 7%. The bottom line is we can expect to continue to see a lot of “Marte Partays” in the infield as the Pirates make another playoff push.