Athletics

'Underrated' Marte giving A's something they've lacked

Athletics
Starling Marte

Manager Bob Melvin and Athletics players are running out of things to say about Starling Marte.

With each passing game, the 32-year-old outfielder does something to make his previous accomplishments pale in comparison, leaving his manager and teammates searching for new words to describe what he's doing.

In the A's 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers at the Coliseum on Sunday, Marte went 4-for-5 with a run scored, a run driven in and another stolen base.

"I wouldn't want to pitch to him," A's starting pitcher James Kaprielian told reporters on a video conference call after the game. "I'd say he's pretty underrated. The guy does it all, honestly. He's making plays on defense, he's a threat on the bases, he uses all of the field, he's got an unbelievable approach at the plate and he's just a weapon. You look at the guy, he's built like a big leaguer and I'm glad he's on our team. I think [the front office] did a great job of bringing him as an addition to this clubhouse and he fits right in."

In nine games with the A's since being acquired from the Miami Marlins for Jesús Luzardo on July 28, Marte is 17-for-40 with two doubles, two homers, five RBI and seven stolen bases.

"He's a pretty electric player when he's swinging the bat," A's outfielder Mark Canha told reporters. "When he gets on base, he's so fast, that's a tool itself and he's hitting right now too, just getting on base a ton and driving in runs, kinda doing it all, so he's been great. Really great."

 

Kaprielian allowed a run to the Rangers in the top of the first inning Sunday, but the A's responded in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of their own, and Marte was right in the middle of the action.

Marte reached on a bunt single, stole second base and scored two batters later when Jed Lowrie singled to left center.

Melvin explained after the game how Marte impacts the game and the rest of the team.

"Just all of the above, whether it's big hits, understanding going the other way, knowing when to steal, just creates all kinds of havoc on the bases for opposing managers, catchers, pitchers," Melvin said. "Just allows the hitters to get some better pitches too, and likely more fastballs. There's a lot of stuff to like about him."

Marte began the three-game series against the Rangers with a three-run walk-off homer on Friday night, just hours after Ramón Laureano was suspended 80 games by MLB for testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs.

A big reason why the A's haven't had a drop-off since Laureano's suspension has been Marte. In the three-game sweep, they scored 22 runs, and have scored 27 during their four-game winning streak.

NBC Sports California's Dallas Braden asked Lowrie what the cause of the offensive outburst has been, and the veteran second baseman naturally had a simple answer.

"It's pretty easy to point at Marte," Lowrie told Braden. "He's just been doing everything for us. A different element that we haven't had in our lineup and obviously a welcome addition."

For as talented as Luzardo is, he has a lot of work to do to reach his potential, and he likely wasn't helping the A's reach their goal this season. In his second start with the Marlins on Saturday, he allowed seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

In the long run, the A's might miss Luzardo if he puts it all together and becomes the Cy Young candidate most believe he can be. But in the here and now, Marte is the player Oakland needed, and he's exceeding every expectation they ever could have had for him.