Is There Any Hope for Andy Marte?
I was all set to write this big thing about Marte. But the more I looked at it, the more I think it's not that complicated, really. I think he simply reached his peak earlier than most players, which is not to say he can't still be useful. More on that in a second.
Marte's best attributes as a prospect were age-relative-to-league, power, and strike zone judgment. But he hasn't hit particularly well since leaving the Atlanta system, and has basically shown no signs of improvement at all in three years. From watching him play, he looks a little....heavier....than he did back in '04 or '05. By heavier I don't mean his actual weight necessarily, but rather that he seems to have lost some quickness, some lightness afoot if you will. His performance certainly has been rock-steady at Buffalo, .773 OPS in 2006 and .766 in 2007, slightly above league averages but not performance that will push him into a major league job by itself.
His current MLEs make him as a .240/.300/.430 hitter or so in the majors. That's a better line than his .201/.263/.356 major league mark in 278 at-bats, and I do think that if someone gave Marte 500 at-bats that he'd hit something like what the MLEs show, probably somewhat better, say .250/.320/.450 would be my guess. But that's obviously not great.
Marte is still just 24 years old, three or four years away from the theoretical peak. I think getting a fresh start in a new organization would help him. Things I have heard indicate that he's been pretty frustrated in Cleveland and keeps pressing, trying to hit seven-run homers every at-bat to force his way into a job. This dovetails well with scouting reports that he's become excessively power-conscious, trying to pull everything.
My guess is that Marte will get one more good chance somewhere, and still has a reasonable shot to develop into a useful, productive slugger. Given his age, it is too early to give up totally and condemn him to Triple-A sluggerdom. But even if he does turn things around, I no longer see him as a potential star player. Age-relative-to-league is important, but it's just one factor, and some players peak early. I think that's what happened here. He's better than he's looked in the majors, and he can beat what he's done in Buffalo. But his chance to be a star is gone I think.