- Rating: 4.67
- 2022 stats: 137 G, 558 PA, .240/.321/.407, 12 HR, 52 RBI, .727 OPS, 106 OPS+, 1.5 bWAR
- Date of birth: October 12, 1993 (29 years old)
- 2022 earnings: $8.4 million
- 2023 status: On 40-man roster, Signed through 2027 with team option for 2028 (5 yr/$76 million guaranteed remaining)
Anytime a player can outperform his contract, especially an extension contract, while also producing above league average offense, it is generally a good thing. In 2022 that is what the Diamondbacks received from Ketel Marte. However, depending on your perspective, that either ignores or highlights just how incredibly mediocre Marte was in 2022. Once again, a combination of factors contributed to Marte failing to live up to the hype which prompted his being given an aggressive extension, that officially begins next season.
Entering the 2022 season, there was considerable hope that significant downtime and off-season conditioning would help Marte rediscover some of the dynamic athleticism that he displayed in his career year of 2019. Unfortunately for all parties involved, that was not to be the case. For the season, Ketel made it into 137 games, only 128 of those as a starter. On the surface, that really isn’t so bad, especially since Marte still accrued enough PA to qualify for the batting title. However, it was apparent to anyone watching, that even when Marte was actually playing, he was playing at less than 100% (or even 85-90%). This was the case for probably 25 games in addition to the 25 games he simply missed entirely.
By almost every measure, Marte was exceptionally average. Marte’s off-season workouts did not slim him down any. As a result, his base-running was valued at -1 runs for the season. He managed five swipes, but attempted only six. It felt like he rarely attempted to take an aggressive extra base - something that should not surprise, given his leg issues. In the field, Marte’s defence was improved from the butchery of 2021, but, with 38 games played as a DH in 2022, the -0.6 defensive WAR is still not getting the job done, so much as it is simply not sinking anything.
Finally, at the plate, Mare was only the slightest bit above average posting a 106 OPS+ / 102 wRC+. The surprise pop that Marte flashed in 2019 when he hit 32 home runs was almost nowhere to be seen. Yet, he did record a career high in doubles stroking a prodigious 42 of them, tying him for sixth in all of MLB. All told, the baserunning and defense took their small nibbles out of Marte’s modest batting numbers, resulting in a season that saw Marte post -0.3 WAA. When both on the field and healthy, Marte neither helped nor hurt the Diamondbacks. He simply filled a slot in the lineup in the most average ways possible.
At the tail end of the season, Marte started to show a bit more pop in his bat and to contribute a bit more. Of course, it was then, on 30 September that Marte headed to the IL with an undisclosed injury, ending his season in much the way it had gone all along, with a quiet, non-disruptive whimper.
If Ketel Marte was being looked to as the team’s sixth, seventh, or eighth best player, then his 2022 performance would have been perfectly acceptable. A repeat performance would be something to be excited about. Unfortunately, this Diamondbacks team has grander expectations for Marte in its blueprint for success. If Marte repeats in 2023 what he did in 2022, it will be a disappointment. Barring some sort of unforeseen trade, Marte is part of the everyday starting lineup in 2023. But given the recent acquisition of Kyle Lewis, it will currently be far more difficult for Torey Lovullo to hide Marte at DH for any significant portion of next season.
With that being the case, Ketel Marte is going to have to find some sort of conditioning that allows him to remain healthy enough that he can suit up at the keystone every day. Hopefully, that better health results in some better mobility, allowing him to maintain something resembling average defence or better. That way, his contributions at the plate can feed the team’s success.