When the Oakland A’s acquired Starling Marte at the trade deadline, he looked like the perfect fit for their lineup. Somehow he’s turned out even better than that.
While his bat has been hot enough on its own, providing the potent table-setter they were looking for toward the top of the order, the most exciting thing is what he’s done after getting on base. Marte is running wild, stealing 20 bags already in 28 games for the A’s.
His 20 steals since the trade are by far the most in the majors, and they’re enough to tie him for fourth in the AL for the entire season. Only two players in AL or NL history have ever stolen more bases this quickly with a new team, per Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle. He’s still third in the NL too, with 22 as a member of the Miami Marlins earlier this year, so he currently ranks Top 4 in each league.
Add up those stints in the two leagues, and Marte started a new page in the MLB record books.
#Athletics Starling Marte is the first payer in MLB history to steal at least 20 bases in two different leagues during the same season.— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) August 30, 2021
Oakland wasn’t a complete stranger to aggressiveness on the bases, with Ramon Laureano, Elvis Andrus, and Mark Canha leading the charge and Tony Kemp causing his share of chaos, but this new set of wheels supercharged that dimension of the offense. The team ranked 16th in steals before he arrived, and they’re now up to 5th in the majors for the season, even despite the loss of Laureano to a suspension.
If it feels like Marte swipes a base every day, that’s not far from the truth. In his 28 games he’s run at least once in 16 of them, and one day he went three times. The last time the A’s had someone steal four games in a row was Jemile Weeks in 2012, per info manager Mike Selleck, but Marte has already done so twice — and one of them was five in a row, capped off with a two-steal day.
Even more amazing is that he’s yet to be caught in an Oakland uniform. In two instances he got lucky, once when the pitcher had him picked off but threw the ball away, and once when he was tagged out but the ump missed the call and the other team couldn’t challenge. But the box score says he’s 20-for-20, and the only player to start an A’s career with more consecutive successful attempts is Mitchell Page with 26 in 1977, per analyst Sarah Langs.
All of that running is earning the team more chances with runners in scoring position, which is exactly what they’ve needed more of all year. They haven’t always cashed in on those opportunities, but it seems like every time you look up, Marte is standing on second ready for somebody to knock him in.
The rest of the club is still chipping in too, including fellow new acquisition Josh Harrison. Outside of Marte they’re attempting steals about as often as they did before the trade, but since his arrival they’re succeeding more at a 14-for-16 clip, and their total of 34 swipes is only one off the MLB lead during that time span — and that’s mostly without Laureano.
And it’s not just stolen bases. The A’s speed and aggressiveness also show up when they force the opponent into an error like a run-scoring balk, or beat the throw to first on an important grounder to salvage an RBI.
With Marte on board, this is now a team that runs, and that aspect of their game is a weapon to be reckoned with. He’s the primary threat, but Andrus, Canha, Harrison, Kemp, or Seth Brown can get you too, and even both Matts have a steal this month. It’s a Marte Partay on the bases and everybody is invited, and nothing could be more fitting at Rickey Henderson Field.
Watching Marte run has to be somewhat similar to watching Ricky run… it’s truly incredible watching him do this on a daily basis.— Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419) August 22, 2021