You remember what we told you about titles with question marks.
Mellow greetings, fellow citizen. What seems to be your boggle? In Sept. 2015, Dr. D's was --- > how a 21-year-old Ketel Marte could line up 96 fastballs and 75 curves in the same game. In the "HOF'ers Template" article, he ran the following mini-table of 21-year-olds with Marte's swing:
||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
Having watched Marte this year, Dr. D can confidently reply, "HUH?" because Marte's Sophomore Slump lasted 7 games. He's gone through three phases in 2016:
- Came out of ST overconfident and overswinging, batted .160 the first week
- Dialed it back and collected 7 singles in his next 7 games
- Back in synch, has batted .351/.368/.514 in the 18 games since
In the 18 games since April 23, Marte has 26 hits, with 9 extra-base hits (one every other game, which would make about 81 per season). In the 4-hit game he rocked two doubles down the LF line from the right side, then turned around and jacked a home run from the left side. This was in between making StatCast highlights for his dash home on a sac fly and stealing a base. He looked like Johnny Damon, the one who collected MVP votes in four or five different seasons. Damon was another see ball, hit ball player who could hit .280 with gap power from the age of 21.
CANO FOR MVP
During Marte's first week or two in 2016, Robinson Cano was walking around the clubhouse telling everybody to leave Marte alone to play every day. Special player, special hitter, special fielder, Cano will tell anybody within earshot.
We imagine you can translate this to your own workplace. If you're Teacher's Pet to the most powerful person there, you might have to deal with a little sour grapes from the incompetents. But it also relaxes you into your game REAL quick. Like, seven games quick. When you're Teacher's Pet, your mistakes don't cost you so dearly. If Robby Cano isn't here -- and isn't hitting 12 homers a month -- then the Pencil might have had Marte back to the bench if not back to AAA after a Horse Manure (TM) opening homestand.
Thank You, Robby. And Dr. D guesses you can take it from here, what effect this will have on the rest of Marte's 2016 season.
AND I-I-I-I ... WILL ALWAYS GLOOOOOVE YOUUU Dept.
John Dewan has Marte for +2 plays made above average MLB shortstop, which is like saying Joe Shlabotnik can run a little faster than the average NFL cornerback. Or like saying an ESPN poster is a little bit meaner than the average U.S. politician. Much more important than that is Marte's +4 plays to his right. This is the acid test.
Once again Dr. D, who is a little bit meaner than the average ESPN poster, wonders what scouts were talking about when they were saying Ketel Marte does not have the physical tools to play shortstop.
True, UZR hasn't caught up to reality yet, but Inside Edge Fielding has Marte as solid/above in every type of challenge: Routine, Likely, Even, etc. Far more important than any stat is the fact that SSI has moved on from this discussion. You know and I know that Marte is at least average now, and improving rapidly.
CAVEATS and QUID PRO QUO's
It's interesting that Marte's 2015 spike in BB rate has sagged back to his minor league levels. Why?
It isn't that pitchers are challenging him more, and it's not that he's chasing more (O-swing % not much higher). It's just that he's back to going after the first pitch he likes, with a swing rate back up to 50% from 43% last year.
Marte is just a baby and will go through many evolutions in his game as the patterns lock in and he anticipates better. Walks and homers are old players' skills. Speaking of which, do you fancy that Marte is filling out a little bit?
MARTE FOR HOF
So far what we have claimed is that --- > Ketel Marte has so far done nothing inconsistent with a Hall of Fame career. Granted, you can also say that about a can of Diet Coke. We're just fans having a bit of chat here. But right now it looks to Dr. D like Ketel Marte PROBABLY WILL hit as well as Johnny Damon did, which is to say a 115-118 OPS+ in his best years and 2,000-3,000 hits if he stays healthy and doesn't age early.
Coming into 2016, we said that Marte was just shy of Best Bet status. We haven't put him there yet because now it seems trite. But if there remains anybody on the other side of this issue, we'll be glad to cherrypick another Nate Karns for the SSI Best Bet wall. :- ) As with Karns, we need three dissenting opinions before we can sheepishly "adopt" him.
UND TAKE ZIS MIT YOU
Nori Aoki served a legitimate purpose when he was brought in. With Marte's ascendancy -- as well as Smith / Seager as backups for top of the lineup -- Aoki's function is no longer required. The M's lineup bicycle controls the zone now and can do so without the Aoki plate-discipline training wheels attached. DiPoto is free to upgrade left field.
That's free advice,