|Marte with a perfect-form bunt. (US Presswire)|
Even though the Pirates are relevant as a team this year, for fantasy purposes their lineup is still mostly irrelevant. Outside of Andrew McCutchen and random fits of homers from Pedro Alvarez, the pickings are slim in Pittsburgh.
An easy target to blame for this is Jose Tabata, he of a .230 average and sub-.300 on base percentage. His bat seemingly oozing with fantasy potential after his rookie season in 2010—hitting .300 with five home runs and 19 steals in 100 games—Tabata has since oozed, for the most part, only outs from his bat.
On Monday, word came out that the Pirates are upset with Tabata’s performance and effort level this year, and are increasingly likely to send him to the minors to get his act together. A major reason the Pirates are willing to send down their starting right fielder is the presence of a talented outfielder in Triple-A named Starling Marte.
At 23 years-old against Triple-A pitchers, Marte has batted .284 with eight homers and 16 steals, demonstrating his decent pop and plus speed. Over a full season, Oliver projects Marte is capable of a .280 average, 11 homers, and 24 stolen bases. Not huge numbers, but for a fourth outfielder in a 14-team leagues, he can suffice.
Scouting reports also indicate Marte is a plus defender, making the choice to promote him easier. I don’t know who you’re running out in your outfield at the moment, but consider bidding around $2 to make Marte one of your options. Considering the Pirates lineup is fluctuating a lot, factor in that he may find himself batting first or second fairly quickly if he produces out of the gate.
This is all assuming Marte does get the call in the near future, meaning Tabata doesn’t miraculously turn his season around or Drew Sutton doesn’t fill the role of the place-holder for too long. If I’m putting my money somewhere though, it’s on Marte.