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Stats Corner: Corner men Marte, Snider deliver punch

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte smiles while taking batting practice at spring training in Bradenton, Fla.

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By David Golebiewski
Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, 7:42 p.m.

Given Andrew McCutchen's first disabled list stint and Gregory Polanco's rough introduction to the majors, the Pirates' “Dream Outfield” easily could have turned nightmarish.

Yet entering Saturday, Pirates outfielders owned an .804 on-base plus slugging percentage since the All-Star break, trailing just the Miami Marlins (.807).

Through injury and rookie disappointment, the Pirates have prevailed because Starling Marte and Travis Snider started raking. Marte is connecting more often and lofting pitches, suggesting he's over his concussion issues, and Snider has rehabilitated his career by crushing breaking and off-speed stuff.

Before the Midsummer Classic, Marte posted a .708 OPS while striking out at a Pedro Alvarez-esque 27.7 percent clip. During the second half, however, he boasts the third-highest OPS among outfielders (minimum 100 plate appearances).

Turning it around

2nd-halfBatter Team OPS*

Adam Eaton White Sox 1.045

Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 1.026

Starling Marte Pirates 1.006

Justin Upton Braves .981

Jon Jay Cardinals .944

*Entering Saturday's games

Source: Fangraphs

Marte has cut his strikeout rate to 16.7 percent during the second half, and he's hitting far fewer ground balls since mid-July (38.2 percent of balls put in play) than before (52.2 percent). With four second-half homers, Marte almost has matched his first-half total (five) already.

A former top-10 prospect who slugged his way to the majors at age 20, Snider looked destined to be released this winter after putting up a .660 first-half OPS. But the pinch hitter turned starting right fielder has compiled an .881 OPS since the break and has belted six home runs. Among Pirates hitters, only Josh Harrison (seven) has gone deep more often during the second half.

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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