Q. So Dr. D won't back off his opinion that Ketel Marte is good for 7 WAR per season?
A. Dr. D has said that --- > as non-prospects go, Ketel Marte turned out to be a whale of a tough 21-year-old out. That's all he said. Drive home safely.
Slap me silly. Ketel Marte is a point of interest, in a non-interesting August. Nobody is selling Marte as an All-Star. SSI has not wheeled out the Best Bet sticker. What do I have to do, write it in blood?! ... wait ...
Q. Is it reasonable to cap Marte's ceiling at "backup"?
A. No, it is reasonable to install his floor there.
At age 21, Erick Aybar could not begin to cope with major league pitching. Most shortstops of Aybar's type couldn't OPS+ 80 and up until they were at least 24. What say we hold off on putting Marte's very upper scenario at "fringe." His worst case is fringe now, and he's 21.
Q. After 100 plate appearances, what does SSI see in Marte's game, though?
A. He unquestionably has a rare ability to cover the ball, timing-wise. He can cover a 95-MPH fastball, and he can stay back to cover a 72-MPH change curve, and everything in between. Look it up on Fangraphs > Pitch Type and you'll see he hits everything.
Look, don't go screaming into the night again :- ) but that's what the big stars do, the Trouts and Harpers. At age 20, 21, they can handle the strike zone back-to-front. They don't need to guess right. They don't actually think that much at all. Junior didn't. Ketel Marte just doesn't think that much up there.
So, it's not every day you see a 21-year-old slam into Safeco Field and just whack everything he sees. D.J. Petersen ain't doing it. So enjoy Marte's assault on Everest. It's goin' good at the moment.
Also, we're pleasantly surprised to see him drop his shoulder, load up, and sting the ball into the gaps when he sees his pitch early. He's not the Endy-est swinger we've ever seen, not by a long shot.
Q. The Mariners have had a lot of middle infielders who started hot - Ackley, Miller, Taylor, Franklin.
A. If you have a prospect who, at age 21, is where Dustin Ackley was at age 21, I recommend you hold on to him. Just because Ackley was one of the "aw, shucks" results, doesn't mean you do not want the #2 pick in the draft.
Ackley, Miller, Taylor, Franklin, that's one whale of a talented group of prospects. And the latter three have certainly not yet failed. It's a little odd how we, in Seattle, think that Justin Smoak-level prospects are something to avoid. :- ) Because we had Justin Smoak.
There's a story about a Hold 'Em superstar who had an amateur friend walk up to him crying. "Hey, man, the last three times in a row I had aces wired, I pushed them hard and then the flop shafted me. I'm going broke. What do I do with those blasted aces?!"
The superstar looked at him like he was something brown an' unpleasant and said, "Play them the same way." And walked off. ... teasing. But look, kiddies, if we can trade Roenis Elias for the next Dustin Ackley-level hitting prospect, I vote we do it.
What were we sayin'? ... oh, yeah. It's not a bad thing to rip up the American League in your first 100 AB's. Now is it.
Q. Is it reasonable to think that Marte might start drawing walks, after not having done so in the minors?
A. I don't expect Marte to bat .300 and also OBP .365, no. Agreed.
But the funny thing is, for 100 PA's he actually HAS changed his game. He's only swinging at 40% of all pitches, compared to the ML average of 50%. And that's despite the fact that they're throwing him 69% fastballs. Why has he suddenly tightened his zone so much? You tell me. But for 100 PA's, that's what he has in fact done.
Endy Chavez' walks don't go to zero because they center the pitch to him. What they do is, on 2-0 and 3-1 they throw Endy Chavez fastballs. Curves are harder to throw for a strike. When you want to risk a HR but rule out the BB, what you do is throw a fastball. Get it?, Got it, Good. The issue is the proportion of fastballs, of "giving in" because the man can't hurt you anyway.
They're doing this to Marte, giving him fastballs if and when they're behind. It's resulting in an EYE of .80 and his having an easy time dealing with the pitching.
That's "so far." Without a doubt, Marte's walk rate will drop in September, as will his BABIP. But he doesn't need walks or power in order to OPS+ 100. If he bats .290 solid, he will OPS+ 100. And that will make him Erick Aybar. Or Denard Span, or Ben Revere, or Nori Aoki, or whoever. Ketel Marte has a 70 HIT tool. Let's see where he goes with it.
Q. Might he become Jose Reyes, like the org said?
A. No idea how Ketel Marte would ever hit 18 homers or steal 75 bases, no.
Wouldn't want to go there, but ... there are a lot of places you CAN go from a plus-plus HIT tool at the age of 21.
Q. Leaving us where on Ketel Marte?
Maybe he'll be nothing. Or maybe he'll be an Altuve-level .320 hitter. Or maybe he'll keep swinging at 40% of pitches and be an OBP guy. Or maybe he'll learn to steal 40 bags. But in any case, it beats watching Casey Kotchman.