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Mark Madden

1-2 PUNCHLESS

 
1-2 PUNCHLESS
Posted October 10th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

Lots of Pirates had good playoffs. 3B Pedro Alvarez is at the top of that list: .300, three home runs and at least one RBI in every game. Alvarez excelled.

LF Starling Marte and 2B Neil Walker, not so much.

There's really zero blame to go around, not after such a great season and not after extending St. Louis to five games. But Marte and Walker went a combined 1-for-38 atop the order against the Cardinals. That didn’t help.

Walker had some decent at-bats. He battled better than most against Adam Wainwright last night. Wainwright threw just 107 pitches in nine innings; Walker forced him to throw 22. Walker got robbed of a hit by St. Louis SS Pete Kozma.

But Walker struck out five times during the NLDS, and 0-for-19 is 0-for-19.

One-for-19 is only marginally better. But Marte is miscast as a leadoff hitter.

Marte stole 41 bases and scored 83 runs. He is fleet of foot. He had 48 extra-base hits, so he's quite often in scoring position. Marte absorbed 24 HBPs.

But Marte walked just 25 times and struck out 138 times. His OBP of .343 ranked 25th in the National League. Not terrible, but you want better.

Marte hacks away like Manny Sanguillen used to. His plate discipline is minimal. He often swings at pitches outside the strike zone. Marte forced Wainwright to throw just 12 pitches. He had two three-pitch at-bats and a two-pitch AB. (To be fair, Wainwright threw Marte 11 strikes.)

Marte has got to move down the lineup. Marlon Byrd will likely leave via free agency. Perhaps Jose Tabata takes RF and the leadoff spot.

Walker, meantime, should ditch switch-hitting and bat exclusively left-handed. He was 18-for-80 (.225) with one extra-base hit (a double) from the right side of the plate this season. Walker hasn't hit a home run right-handed since 2011.



Photos Courtesy of Getty Images

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