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The resurgent Starling Marte has given the Mets a boost

After a slow start, Marte has been hitting very well for several weeks now.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When the Mets inked Starling Marte to a four-year, $78 million deal early in the offseason, it was an early sign that the team was going to be more competitive this year than it had been in 2021. The 33-year-old was coming off a stellar season that he had split between time with the Marlins and the A’s, finishing with a .310/.383/.458 line, a 134 wRC+, and 47 stolen bases in 52 attempts.

Marte doesn’t have to match that level of production to be well worth the deal to which he signed, but as is sometimes—perhaps often—the case, he struggled early in the 2022 season. Despite hitting his first home run for the Mets on April 15 and his second the next day. Marte hit just .225/.289/.315 with an 81 wRC+ and four stolen bases in seven attempts through May 1. While it wasn’t quite an alarming start to the year, it was a slow one.

From May 2 through the Mets’ win over the Nationals at Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon, however, Marte has been nothing short of excellent. In 103 plate appearances over that stretch, he’s hit .340/.359/.570 with four home runs, a 165 wRC+, and three stolen bases in four attempts. And he’s done that with a 2.9 percent walk rate, far lower than his career rate of 5.2 percent and lower than the 4.1 percent rate he had put up through May 1.

Add it all up, and Marte is up to a .286/.325/.450 line on the year with a 124 wRC+. Those stats seem like a pretty reasonable expectation for what the Mets might get from Marte over the course of a full season and into the next few years, as he totaled a 119 wRC+ in the 2018 through 2021 seasons, finishing below a 110 wRC+ only once—in the very short 2020 season with a 108. And the stolen base numbers still don’t look spectacular in terms of his success rate, with a total of seven in eleven attempts in 2022, but it’s encouraging that he’s more successful in his more recent attempts than he was earlier in the year.

It would be wildly optimistic to expect Marte to continue to produce at the plate like he has over the past month, but it seems entirely reasonable that he could maintain his overall level of production as a hitter, even if his Statcast percentile rankings are still on the lower side.

There’s room for improvement in his walk rate, even if it’s just getting it back to his career norms, and his .324 batting average on balls in play looks sustainable. For his career, he has a .343 BABIP, and his worst single season mark in BABIP was the .319 he had in both 2019 and 2020. And if Marte hits the ball harder more often and his Statcast metrics—exit velocity, in particular—return to the levels he’d shown in his most recent seasons leading up to this one, that would help him maintain or improve upon his .164 isolated slugging on the season.