In the first installment of this series I covered the infield. Today we will dedicate the entire article just to Ketel Marte. For one, he is the best, and arguably most important player on the roster. How he recovers from the stress reaction in his back, and whether he can come close to duplicating his 2019 performance in 2020 and the years beyond are of paramount importance to this organization and the fan base.
Secondly, Ketel is a difficult guy to comp due to several factors:
1.) He is a switch hitter. Usually handedness is an important factor in the comparisons process for me, but there is simply a much smaller pool of players to compare to if using just switch hitters.
2.) He has played significant innings at SS, 2b, and CF.
51% at SS
33% at 2b
17% at CF
Who do I compare him to positionally? There aren’t many players with significant playing time at all three positions in the modern era. Furthermore, going forward what position are the DBacks most likely to play him at? We just don’t know.
3.) His breakout in 2019 so far exceeds anything that came before it. How much does that tilt things?
To deal with this, I’m just going to compare him from a couple of different angles .
A.) Since Expansion era (1961 through 2019)
B.) Through Age 25
C.) Played at least 5% of games at either SS, 2b, or CF
D.) Minimum 1676 PA, Maximum 2676 PA
E.) OPS+ between 104-112
F.) Minimum 1 dWAR (Plus defenders)
G.) Minimum 0.40 BB/K ratio
Note: * = Switch hitter
Well right away we see this is a pretty cool list. It’s a mixed bag, but contains some really great players. The headliners are of course Carlos Beltran, Dustin Pedroia, and Bernie Williams. Paul Blair was one of greatest defensive CF ever to play, and a pretty good hitter in earlier part of his career. Dickie Thon and Bobby Tolan were stars in 70’s & 80’s but their careers were ruined by injury. Asdrubal Cabrera and Denis Menke are two solid players, but neither are/were stars. Jorge Polanco is the same age as Marte
Here is what the players on the list did age 26-28. Solid, if unspectacular. This certainly looks like a reasonable FLOOR for Marte. And if he can avoid serious injury, he should easily surpass the average of this group.
Strongly suggest to click on that link , as it has quite comprehensive comparison info for this group of players. They are all switch hitters, and it is comparing their 4th and 5th seasons in MLB, with exception of Chipper Jones, who missed a full season due to broken leg, but it’s his age 24-25 seasons, which is same age Ketel Marte the last two years.
Here is abbreviated table:
This grouping is not to say that Marte is exactly like these players. There are some differences of course. Chipper Jones walked more. Lindor, Beltran, and Ramirez hit the ball in the air more frequently. Bernie Williams HR power hadn’t completely developed by this point. But overall, the output and performance levels of this group of players through similar stages of their careers is remarkably similar.
It’s also not to say that Marte will definitely reach the same career heights that some of these players have reached. But it’s still fun to contemplate
So what did this group AVERAGE over the next three seasons ?
*Note Lindor is same age Marte and hasn’t played subsequent seasons yet.
Ketel Marte’s breakout began in June of 2018, and he has posted numbers that compare very well to some of the best switch hitters of the last 25 years.
Whether one takes the more conservative view presented in the first group of comparisons, or the more euphoric, fanboy view presented in this second set, one should feel very good about the chances for Marte to continue to be a strong above average player capable of making an all star team at any time over the next several years. The only thing that would hold him back is injury it seems. Fingers crossed that stress reaction in his back fully heals