Marte recognized for defensive excellence
Left fielder wins first Rawlings Gold Glove Award
PITTSBURGH -- Discussing his goals for the season with Pirates third-base coach Rick Sofield, Starling Marte didn't focus on his hitting, his power numbers or his baserunning. He wanted to be recognized for his defense in left field.
That recognition came Tuesday when Marte won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award, an honor cementing his status as the National League's best defensive left fielder.
"I think it's really important to him," said Sofield, who works with the Pirates' outfielders. "Marte has mentioned to me in our dialogue and goal-setting, what we're trying to accomplish, that a Gold Glove is important to him, something he wants to do."
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen and pitcher Gerrit Cole were also Gold Glove Award finalists but fell short. D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock finished ahead of McCutchen and Billy Hamilton, while Zack Greinke beat out Cole and Jake Arrieta.
Marte beat out the Padres' Justin Upton and the Marlins' Christian Yelich. He led all NL left fielders with a .995 fielding percentage, committing only one error while playing 1,186 1/3 innings at the position.
The Gold Glove Awards are voted on by Major League managers and coaches, and the SABR Defensive Index counts for approximately 25 percent of the overall selection total.
Marte's credentials were impressive, and this season was full of evidence supporting his case for the Gold Glove. The 27-year-old finished third among all Major League players with 24 defensive runs saved, behind only Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
All season, Marte punished opposing baserunners who attempted to advance an extra 90 feet against him. He led all NL outfielders with 16 assists, the most by a Pirates outfielder since Jose Guillen had 16 in 1998.
"He has tremendous arm speed. He's got tremendous arm strength. And the tool that he has that you can't find is unbelievable accuracy," Sofield said. "When you put those things together, you've got your hands full trying to take an extra base."
If players had to present awards submissions, a snapshot of their qualifications, Marte's would be the ninth inning of the Pirates' 5-4 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 31.
The Pirates led by one run, but the Reds had runners on first and second with one out. Todd Frazier lined a potentially game-tying single to left, but Marte wouldn't have it. Marte charged toward the ball and unleashed a quick, strong and accurate throw to catcher Francisco Cervelli, easily beating Brandon Phillips to the plate.
The next batter, Marlon Byrd, promptly smacked a line drive to left field. Marte wasn't having that, either. He moved quickly, dove headfirst and snagged the ball just before it hit the ground for the game's final out.
On the mound, closer Mark Melancon tipped his cap toward Marte. In center field, McCutchen doffed his cap as well. In the broadcast booth, Pirates play-by-play man Greg Brown exclaimed, "Starling Marte carried the team on his shoulders -- or his arm, in this case, and glove!"
Now, Marte's game-saving glove is golden.