Age: Turned 28 hortly after the end of the season
2021 Stats: .318/.377/.532, 143 OPS+
2021 Earnings: $6 Million
2022 Status: Under contract for three more seasons, one of the hottest commodities on the trade market (pending end of lockout)
I still have access to the spreadsheets for these rankings going back to 2017. In those five years, the number one player has only been rated lower than 9 once, and that was David Peralta’s 8.98 back in 2018. I think it’s a combination of poor and shortened individual performances, as well as general apathy from the fanbase following a dismal season. Either way, Ketel Marte took home the top spot in our 2021 Rankings.
In 2019, Ketel Marte had a breakout season, hitting career highs in almost every category, finding his power, and finishing fourth in MVP voting. 2020 saw a big step back, with the power almost completely drying up, with only two home runs in 45 games. Like so many other players, he was looking to bounce back in 2021 and resume the career trajectory that it appeared he was on before the pandemic.
It looked like he was well on his way to start the season. He matched his 2020 home run totals in the first two games of the season, and after six games, was slashing .522/.560/.957. However, the seventh game of the season ended early for Marte, when he left the game in the sixth inning with a hamstring strain, an issue that would plague him for most of the season.
He was on the injured list for over a month, not returning until May 19th. He came back to a team that was eight games under .500 and was mired in what would be come a 13 game losing streak and what would become the league’s longest road losing streak. The remainder of May was not kind to him. He hit .244 for the month, and the power that seemed to be back was gone again, hitting just one home run in the month.
June saw his average and OBP rebound. Some of the power returned too, with him collecting eight doubles over the course of the month. The home runs still weren’t there, though. He only hit one during the month, looking more like what he was doing in 2020 than the first week. However, he did continue to hit the ball, just not over the fence, having an eight game hitting streak on June 26th, and a batting average for the season of .370.
His hamstring issue from May cropped back up at the end of the month, sending him back to the IL for the entire month of July. Once he returned on August 1st, he was an every day player for the rest of the season, and the hamstring seemed to be fully healed. The average went down, but over the 53 games he played in the rest of the way, he found his power again. 10 home runs, 16 doubles, and a triple was a better stretch than he had managed since 2019. The average went down a bit, but he still finished the season over .300, the only Diamondback player to do so by a large margin.
At the end of the day, he was easily the best hitter on the team this season. He was far an away the when it came to the rate statistics. His triple slash line was better than everyone, and despite missing over 70 games, he was near the top for all of the accumulation stats as well. He was top five in hits, runs, and RBI, while only Eduardo Escobar had more home runs than him. Much like his rating however, one has to ask if that was because of his accomplishments were better than everyone else, or if everyone else’s were worse than his.
If you Google Ketel Marte’s name, nearly every result that comes up are articles discussing how he is such a great fit for other teams. You’ll see the Marlins, Yankees, White Sox, Angels... basically articles talking about how great a fit he is for every team except the Diamondbacks. On a team that is clearly in the middle of a rebuild, whether they want to admit it or not, Marte is far and away the most valuable trade piece the Diamondbacks have. The question becomes if anyone will meet the price.
If he does, it seems that that it will be as the Diamondback’s second baseman. After spending the first 70-odd games in CF, Marte and Lovullo had a conversation that ended with Marte spending 14 of his final 15 starts in the infield. Hazen also implied that Marte would be a single position player, presumably at second.
Whether he’ll take the field for the Diamondbacks or for any of the multitude of other teams that are interested won’t be known until after the lock out is resolved, and perhaps not immediately then. Either way, Ketel Marte looks like he’ll be a mid-to-upper tier baseball player for a long time to come.