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2024 Fangraphs Diamondbacks Projection: Second-base

Ketel Marte had his best year since 2019. Can he build on that?

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World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • Total production: 3.8 fWAR
  • Total MLB rank: 7th
  • Everyday player: Ketel Marte, 3.7 fWAR
  • Backups: Geraldo Perdomo, Jace Peterson, Kevin Newman

Fangraphs 2024 Projections: Second-base

Name PA BA OBP SLG wOBA Off BsR Def fWAR
Name PA BA OBP SLG wOBA Off BsR Def fWAR
Ketel Marte 637 .277 .353 .469 .353 16.8 -0.8 -3.1 3.7
Geraldo Perdomo 28 .241 .339 .349 .308 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.1
Jace Peterson 21 .234 .320 .353 .298 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Kevin Newman 14 .264 .311 .359 .293 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .274 .350 .459 .348 15.8 -0.8 -3.1 3.8

Ah, remember the time Arizona decided Marte was the teams everyday center fielder? Actually, timeS, for they moved him twice. The first time was in 2019, when he started 89 games there. Then, after largely returning him to second-base for the COVID curtailed 2020 season, they tried again in 2021, when he started 67 more times in center. What’s weird is, Marte’s bat exploded there. Over his career - and we’re now talking 168 total games playing CF, and 693 plate-appearances, so a respectable sample-size - Ketel hit .340 there, with an OPS of exactly 1.000. However, correlation is not causation, and I’m hard-pushed to think of why the move would increase his average by 68 points over the figure at second.

While all credit is due to Marte for doing his best to fill the team’s need at the position, the negatives were obvious. He rated -12 Defensive Runs Saved at the position, and also a suspicion that playing there was also injurious to Marte’s long-term health. Particularly in 2021, Ketel missed over two months after straining first his right hamstring, then his left one. Even before that, in 2019 Marte blamed the new playing surface in the outfield, saying “The artificial turf took a toll on me.” Since the end of 2021, he has played just three innings in center, all of those coming this year as late-inning changes, after Torey Lovullo had emptied his bench.

Certainly, Fangraphs does not expect anything except Ketel to be an everyday player there, with the only other playing time projected for him in 2024, being fourteen PA as Arizona’s designated hitter. There is fractionally more room here for others than at first, but we’re only talking 63 plate appearances. That’s a little more one-sided than the 103 PA given to non-Marte players at second in 2023. The lion’s share of those went to Gerardo Perdomo (76), with the now-departed Josh Rojas (22), Jace Peterson (4) and Buddy Kennedy (1) making up the balance. I imagine Perdomo will again be the main alternate, though to what extent may depend on what happens at shortstop.

I was a little surprised to see Marte considered a negative on the basepaths. He had eight stolen-bases in ten attempts last year, and is 16-3 there since the beginning of 2020. But there is more to baserunning, and he was extremely cautious elsewhere. He only took an extra base - so, going first to third on a single, for example - 31% of the time. That was well below the 41% MLB average, and still further below Marte’s career figure of 51% before last season. It was the lowest rate on the team by anyone with 150+ PA: even Evan Longoria was significantly higher, at 38%. [In case you’re wondering, Corbin Carroll led the team, and the National League, at an insane 72%, because of course he did]

Definitely reassuring to see Marte deliver his best season for a while. After signing the big contract extension just before Opening Day in 2022, his first season was a damp squib, worth only 1.5 fWAR/bWAR. More was definitely expected in 2023, Marte being the highest paid position player on the team. 4.9 bWAR/4.2 fWAR was much closer to what was wanted, and Ketel will again be our best-paid position player in 2024, his salary bumping up to $13.6 million. [The figure will trail two pitchers, with Eduardo Rodriguez and he who shall not be named both earning $14m] With Marte under control through 2027, and a mutual option for 2028, this is a position which should hopefully not require much thought for a while.