Ketel Marte is not an SSI Best Bet. You got that straight?
And Dr. D is not above clickbait titles as a small in-joke. Dr. D is just telling you about something new he saw last night. Thanks for sharing. No problem.
Yordano Ventura is that Royals kid who literally sits 98, 99 MPH in the first couple innings of any given start. Full-on Nolan Ryan mustard gas scenario, with masks and muddy trenches and all the trimmings.
Blowers emphasized, and accurately so, that the one thing a hitter doesn't want is to --- > get behind 1-2, and let Ventura throw his hook (when the batter Must defend the 98 MPH). Generally speaking the league was hitting only .141 off ANY of Ventura's curve balls, never mind with two strikes.
Blowers juuuuusssssssst baaarrreeeeely got that sentence out of his mouth, when Ventura rocked and fired an 87 curve ball on an 0-2 count. To the leadoff hitter of the game, Ketel Marte.
Marte peered carefully at the curve ball and then roped it into right field, the cleanest single you'll see all week. You know whose swing and timing he used? That of Ichiro Suzuki. Spitting image, I tell ya. Knees first, crisp short stroke, head starting and finishing that way, on top of the ball, everything. Except the 1.1 time down the first base line, maybe.
... Ventura, a few batters later, ventured the same sequence on Robinson Cano. Robby put a garbage swing on it, and walked back to the dugout exasperated. At the universe's audacity in asking him to hit the pitch. That's a little like running over Kam Chancellor in the flat. If you can do it to him, you can do it to anybody. Or can you ...
Second time up, Ventura threw Marte a 97 fastball. Marte casually lashed it into RIGHT field for a gorgeous base hit. ... Ichiro said that he would literally go to sleep at night and "dream of getting a hit." Well, those were two of Ichiro's happiest dreams.
Marte does not have Ichiro's legs and will not have his infield hits. And Marte is not an authentic baseball genius. But then, neither were Gwynn or Carew or Rose. Those three guys, along with Ketel Marte we hope, were just guys with special-class hand-eye coordination. Supposing you see the baseball perfectly, suppose you know exactly where and when the ball is going to be, then when you fire the bat, might the bat not "displace" one quarter inch below where you meant it to? Can you really hit a mosquito with a samurai sword?
Marte's contact rate is consistent, at least, with the sneaking suspicion that he's in the top 5% of major league players for hand-eye coordination.
At age 21:
||113 (and 95 the next year. Became "Carew" at age 23)
||Hit 107 and 105 at ages 22, 23. Became "Gwynn" at age 24
||No idea when he became "Ichiro." Maybe at age 14
||101 and 80 at ages 22, 23. Became "Rose" at age 24
In the batter's box, these players (with Marte) are most definitely in the same template. And factoring in the swings you have actually been watching, Marte's performance to date is exciting, is it not?
Roenis Elias started Wednesday's game "brightly." He took the sign with his CG lower, as a tiger loading up to spring. He looked in with loose, open, and welcoming hands. He rocked back confidently and drove at the area of conflict. He then immediately reached way in for the return throw from the catcher.
During the game, he threw that sharp curve and he threw it with Faith, going to it on a 3-2 count as Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels would. He'd follow with a HIGH fastball, the famous Kershaw / Koufax / Paxton whipsaw. The whole performance gave you a glimpse of Elias Grade A game, and it throttled the Royals.
There were only ever two things between Elias and (say) Chuck Finley. Number one, that he'd get behind 3-1 and then give in to the hitters with an INVITING fastball teed up.
Number two, that his curve was not disguised to come out of his hand like a fastball. (That's documented sabermetrically.) But! That is what you'd expect from a AA pitcher with explosive stuff, which is what Elias was in 2014 and again in 2015. It just falls under the category of "journeyman" as opposed to "master of his craft."
Last night, problem number two was solved, or solved for all practical purposes. That's the game within the game.