Thursday Thought: A small lineup change that could make a big difference

May 14, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Starling Marte (6) dives
May 14, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Starling Marte (6) dives / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets brought in Starling Marte this offseason because he is an all-around player at the top of the lineup. He was coming off of a 2021 split between Miami and Oakland where he led the league in steals, and the Mets, who were one of the worst baserunning teams in the league in 2021, wanted him to run wild.

The problem is, Marte hasn’t been able to run because he’s been hitting behind Brandon Nimmo, who is clogging the base paths in front of Marte.

Starling Marte needs to be hitting leadoff for the Mets.

Moving Marte up one spot to leadoff and sliding Nimmo one spot to the two hole opens up the bases for Marte. It’s still important to have Nimmo’s on-base skills at the top of the lineup, but since he’s a liability on the bases, it just makes sense to put Marte ahead of him.

Just to put into perspective how sharply his stolen base totals have dropped, he’s played 53 games with the Mets and stolen eight bases. Last season, he played 56 games with the Oakland A’s, and stole 25 bases. The other half of the season was played in Miami, where he stole 25 bases in 64 games.

Marte has averaged 30 stolen bases per year throughout his career. He’s not on pace to get there this year, and leading the league isn’t even in the conversation. He only has eight right now, and at 63 games played we’re a little more than a third of the way through the season, so he’s only on pace for about 22 steals this year.

His success rate has also fallen off a cliff. Last year, he only got caught five times over 120 games. This year he already leads the league in caught stealing with five in 52 games. He hasn’t lost any speed, as Baseball Savant tracks his sprint speed identically to last year at 28.4 ft/s.

When you have a guy like Marte who can be an elite base runner and stealer, leadoff singles essentially become doubles because there’s nothing and no one to stop him from running. This little change in the top of the Mets lineup could lead to a lot more run-scoring opportunities. 

Next. A sleeper prospect to watch. dark