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Marte is hot, but plate discipline an issue

| Sunday, April 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Starling Marte has been a superstar in April, providing sizzle atop a Pirates lineup that has mostly fizzled in 2013 while ranking 12th in the National League in runs scored. The 24-year-old left fielder is batting .333 through Friday's games, pacing the Pirates and placing in the top 10 among qualified NL hitters.

Marte is producing despite drawing few walks (two) and racking up plenty of strikeouts (19). In fact, he has one of the 10 lowest walk-to-strikeout ratios among NL batters this season.

Getting your hacks

Lowest BB/K ratio among NL hitters:

Player Team BB/K

Wellington Castillo Cubs 0.00

Carlos Gomez Brewers 0.00

A.J. Pollock D'backs 0.00

Mark Ellis Dodgers 0.10

Starling Marte Pirates 0.11

Pete Kozma Cardinals 0.11

Chris Heisey Reds 0.12

John Buck Mets 0.13

Wilin Rosario Rockies 0.13

Marlon Byrd Mets 0.13

Source: Fangraphs.com

Marte will have to improve his strike zone discipline to keep hitting for a high average. While he is stinging the ball, he also has benefited from a .465 batting average on balls in play — that's 170 points above the major league average. Once those seeing-eye singles stop falling, Marte will need to put the ball in play more often and do a better job of recognizing balls from strikes to bat .300-plus.

History suggests it's nearly impossible to hit for a high average while posting a Marte-like strikeout-to-walk ratio. Just a handful of players qualifying for the batting title have ever hit .300 or better in a season with a BB/K ratio below 0.2.

See ball, swing bat

Lowest BB/K in a season while hitting .300:

Player Year BB/K BAVG

Shawon Dunston 1997 0.11 .300

Benito Santiago 1987 0.14 .300

Alfonso Soriano 2002 0.15 .300

Jacque Jones 2003 0.2 .304

Garry Templeton 1979 0.2 .314

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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