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Starling Marte Expectations After “Core Surgery”

Nic Civale is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a former NCAA Division I Baseball player. He combines his knowledge of anatomy and physiology with that of baseball mechanics to provide expectations for injured players. Utilize The MLB Injury Report to make the most of your fantasy season.

Starling Marte Expectations After “Core Surgery”

Production Pre-Surgery

Starling Marte has the potential to be a stalwart for the New York Mets and your fantasy team in 2023. However, there are some valid concerns with his overall health, and ability to produce at an All-Star level throughout a 162-game season. Marte is coming off a 2021 season with solid production, tallying 76 runs, 16 homers, 63 RBI, and 18 steals in 118 games, slashing .292/.347/.468.  His 2021 was even more impressive with 89 runs, 12 homers, 55 RBI and 47 steals over 120 games, slashing .316/.359/.466. The 34-year-old speedster is likely past his athletic prime, but fantasy drafters and the New York Mets have shifted their attention to the latest news about the surgery Marte underwent this off-season.

The Surgery, Explained

It has been reported that Marte’s “core surgery” involved groin musculature on both legs. Although “core” and “groin” seem like two different body parts, there are multiple muscles that span both regions. This allows us to narrow down what exactly this operation entailed without seeing the actual surgical notes.

The adductors are a collection of muscles that we often refer to as the groin, but they are more accurately categorized as “inner thigh.” While the adductors span down the length of the inner thigh, reaching and even surpassing the knee joint, they originate up in the pelvis. Specifically, the pubic bone and the ischium. These two spots on the pelvis represent the likely site of surgical intervention for Marte. The intersection of the two regions (“core” and “groin”) leads us to this location.

On Field Implications

The adductor muscles function with adduction, or the motion of crossing one leg over another. They also assist with many other motions like hip internal and external rotation, flexion and extension. The brief version is, they do a bit of everything – much like Marte as a player. The adductors are stretched, contracted and utilized on almost every motion on the baseball field. In running, throwing, swinging, and sliding, the adductors play an important role in the coordination of the lower half.

What Could Go Wrong

The glass-half-empty approach towards this situation is clear; if the adductors had an issue significant enough to require surgery, Marte’s production early in the season may be limited. This concern is valid for someone who relies so heavily on speed for his production. Marte has regarded himself as an aggressive player, both on the base paths and in the field. The Mets may have an interesting decision to make come late March about where Marte is playing defensively, or if he gets to be part of the rotation at DH. Marte’s value as a speedy outfielder will have to be weighed with his value as a base stealer, and the Mets may have to prioritize one over the other until Starling has returned to 100%.

I would not be surprised if Marte’s exit velo, sprint speed, and outfield range are diminished to start the year. This may give us the false indication that he is aging rapidly as a mid-30s outfielder when in actuality he just needs more time to ramp up after surgery. For this reason, I believe Marte could be an excellent early-season trade target for managers who missed out on vital outfield roster spots. I do not believe this surgery is an indicator of a drastic slide in production for Marte or the beginning of the end.

What Could Go Right

The glass-half-full way to look at things is that Marte is going into this season having spent the last 3 months rehabbing and having his team of physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches likely working with him daily. That is a very valuable thing to have going into a long season. As Marte heals and he gets stronger and closer to 100%, he is likely to revert back to his aggressive self and take some chances on the base paths. For that reason, I anticipate a healthy Marte to produce somewhere in the 25-35 steals range, and maintain his excellent career batting average, while taking a slight dip in power, related to ball changes, adductor rehab, as well as age.

What I do believe is that despite what transpires, he will not be 100% by Opening Day 2023. That’s not to say he won’t be out in center field for the Mets, but he may still be returning to 100% well into April or early May.

Projections for 2023

81 Runs, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 27 Steals, .284/.344/.459 over 130 games

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