Starling Marte leads A’s sweep vs. Rangers

When the A’s acquired outfielder Starling Marte for Jesus Luzardo, some were shocked to see the promising southpaw shipped away for a short-term rental.

But A’s general manager David Forst knew what he was getting in Marte.

Back on June 28, Forst told reporters he believed Marte was “the best position player that was out there on the market.”

It’s only been nine games, but Marte is making Forst look like a smart man these days. You’d be hard-pressed to find another trade deadline acquisition making such an instant impact with his new squad.

Marte went 4-for-5 in Sunday’s 6-3 sweep-securing win over the Texas Rangers, as his stellar series helped the A’s to their fourth straight win. Oakland is 7-2 since Marte joined the squad, and he’s slashing .425/.465/.625 with eight runs scored, two homers, six RBI and seven stolen bases.

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

Marte leads the league with his 29 stolen bases this year and plays a stellar brand of center field, softening the loss of Ramón Laureano who is lost for the rest of the year due to a PED suspension. Marte is 30 plate appearances shy of qualifying, but his .324 average would rank third in all of baseball.

“I wouldn’t want to pitch to [Marte],” said Sunday starter James Kaprielian, who tossed six sharp innings in his return from the IL. “I’d say he’s pretty underrated. The guy does it all. He’s making plays on defense, he’s a threat on the bases, he uses all the field. He’s got an unbelievable approach at the plate and he’s just a weapon. 

“You look at the guy and he’s built and he looks like a big leaguer. I’m glad he’s on our team. They did a great job of bringing his addition to this clubhouse. He fits right in.” 

The 32-year-old speedster brings a new element to the No. 2 spot in the A’s lineup, as he showcased his bunt skills on Sunday.

Marte then helped generate the A’s first run by stealing second and scoring on a Jed Lowrie single. Rickey Run, anyone? Marte also continued to show his superb contact hitting prowess and seems tough to pitch to at the moment.

Marte finished the Rangers series 8-for-15 (.533) with three runs scored, five RBIs, two stolen bases and Friday night’s 11th-inning walk-off homer.

Oh yeah, and Saturday’s show-stopping catch in center field.

Marte is a free agent this year and stands to make a pretty penny on the open market, so enjoy him while you can, A’s fans. The veteran seems like he’s having a lot of fun and made the Laureano suspension much easier to stomach.

Speaking of new guys, southpaw Andrew Chafin continued his stellar start with the A’s by turning in his sixth straight scoreless appearance. Josh Harrison flashed the leather on this diving play at second base.

Considering the solid contributions from Harrison and catcher Yan Gomes, Forst and front office have to be high-fiving going into Monday’s off-day, as the team’s acquisitions have paid major dividends already.