Think Tank on Ketel Marte
of ignitors and Claudell Washingtons


Editor's choice.

Diderot sez,


....  I'd like to move the comparison machine way back past Fernandez and Stennett to the hero shortstop of my youth...Luis Aparicio.  ... How can Marte--or anyone else--be compared to him?  Well, the guy (Aparicio) wasn't perfect:

  • Despite the eye, his career OBP was only 311 (compared to league-average 329).  He neither struck out NOR walked very much.
  • Career OPS+ was only 82...and exceeded 100 only once in 19 seasons.

Yes, Marte could exceed both of these last metrics.  Last year's performance was fueled by a high BABIP.  But neither contact nor hard contact indicated this was a total fluke.  

But still, how do these two guys EVER compare?

The answer lies in the highly discredited 'eye test'.  What Aparicio did was unnerve opponents.  If the current play against the M's is to keep from facing Cruz in key spots, for the White Sox of that era it was to keep Aparicio off the bases at all costs.  Because what he brought to that team (an AL team that went to the World Series instead of the Mantle/Berra/Skowron/Richardson/Kubek/Ford Yankees in 1959) was energy.  Confidence.  Spirit.  All the things that WAR can't figure out how to measure.

Could Marte be that igniter for the M's?  Well, it depends ...  No way to tell at this point.  But when you've got a fuse that's capable of igniting a team...don't play safe and pour water on it.  


Diderot goes back to LUIS APARICIO?  I knew there was some reason I liked him.  Now in the Think Tank AARP group we've got Dr. D, Moe, DaddyO, Diderot, and ... who've we missed.

There is one point of difference at SSI that can never be matched by any rival blog.  That is, of course, that we're decrepit.  We might not be able to out-do Rany Jazayerli in math, but ... what is 135 pitches x 2 teams x 150 games x 40 years?  That comes out to 1,620,000 pitches that Dr. D has viewed through the CF camera, most of which were after he started using the Bill James Template system.  

"Eye tests" are one thing for you kids - worthless - but another thing for human beings aged 50 and up.  There is just no way that a classical educumacation will ever be able to compete with a hole in the sofa the shape of your keister.  Ask any Aston Villa supporter.


So Diderot's grok is towards Marte as an ignitor.  Huh!  Hadn't thought of that.  But HQ does point out his 140 speed score.  That's an interesting permutation on his future.  One of many possible futures?  From his point of view?  I DON'T KNOW TECH STUFF.

In saber, the idea of a "lineup ignitor" is as passe' as rubber bracelets, Ja Rule and the American flag.  But the 116-win Mariners got it going every night with "an Ichi-ball up the middle," sez Bret Boone.  Jose Altuve may be passe', but there's still a place for him in baseball.


SABRMatt sez,


We had similar discussions about how Jose Lopez was destined for greatness because he was decent at a young age,  so I'm skeptical of such general commentary,  except to say it does help provide some template context. 


:: smile ::  I guess if you're going to encourage overreaction to your Lincecum and Pineda calls, you've got to accept overreaction when Jose Lopez hits the LO arc in his future possibilities.

We pointed out that with Lopez, as is true with Marte, that if you are an average-solid starter in the bigs at age 21-22, you have a 30% chance of becoming a great player, a Hall of Fame level player.  This is known as the Ryne Sandberg Axiom.  It's Bill James', not mine.

But Dr. D's math is still sharp enough to make some distinction between 30% and 100%.


Jose Lopez was an epic failure to capitalize on his early-20's results.  At age 22 he was an American League All-Star; at age 26 he slid into the abyss.  As James said of Claudell Washington and Edgar Renteria and Tony Conigliaro and Whitey Lockman and Buddy Lewis, "sometimes these seasons are platforms, and sometimes they're plateaus."  A lot of exceptional young players fizzle out early.

But that doesn't mean I don't want the third overall pick in the draft.  A baseball player who IS a quality major league player, at age 21-22, is a MUCH better lottery ticket than the #3 overall.  Either one can disappoint, of course.  As can Justin Verlander, or Steve Cishek, or anybody.  There are no guarantees.


Tacoma Rain gave his prediction for a modest 78 wins, but he's optimistic about these players:


Miley - pitchers' park and better defense behind him... I'm liking a monster first half of 2.5 and settling in for 3 for year

Cruz - I expect him to drop a few homers and maybe a few points of OBP and SLG, but still be over 3

Felix - he always seems to get rejuvenated by change... solid 4.8

Cano - I just have a feeling he has something to prove... solid 4.4

Marte / Taylor - squeamish, but getting over 2.5 SHOULD be doable by this pair

Clevenger - I'm with Doc, there is something here... maybe over 2 by himself.

Paxton - The kid has got to stay healthy at some point, and then reaching 2 should be easy

Montero - yes Montero, but it will probably be on another team as well...


Just for the record, if I'm a GM and you're dumping Chris Taylor, I'll take him. ... which, come to think of it, if DiPoto was down on Taylor, maybe he wouldn't have felt so empowered to let Brad Miller go to Tampa and become a 7-WAR player.


Dr D



The one quasi-structural issue with the M's, as they exist right now, is that we really only have one guy beyond Seager-Marte-Cano who has an IF glove:  Chris Taylor.  Well, OK.....O'Malley does, if we keep him up.  That's a B-I-G if.  So Taylor it is.

And I'm pretty good with that.

You guys remember Mark McLemore?  Huh?  Yes?  Does 115 OPS+ in '01 ring a bell?  No?  How about 110 in '02?  Was good for .280-.380-.400, wasn't he?

But did you know that in the 9 seasons before '01 he ran OPS+'s of 69-92-73-82-92-73-79-85-77.  For laughs, let's call that an average of 80.  He hit 32 homeruns over that span, but walked like a bandit, running a near 1/1 Eye.  You could generally figure on him for a .350-.360 OBP.  The guy played a bunch of positions and got on base, walking without any HR pop.

That's pretty close to the game Taylor's demonstrated at AAA.  Well, he's a .313-.394-.460 AAA hitter.  Last year was ugly in Seattle, but he's got a hitting pedigree and had a pretty good '14 (high BABIP) and in '15 he didn't actually hit LHP that badly.

Who is to say that he doesn't breakout in a utility role and look like an 85 OPS+, .350 OBP McLemore? That was the real McLemore, after all. CT is a better option than Luis Sardinas, also on the 40-Man. 

I like Taylor.  He'll do.



No reason why not, though.

Taylor covers the strike zone *so* well and waits on the ball *so* long it will surprise me quite a bit if he can't OPS+ 80 or 90 in the bigs.  Been wrong before once or twice, though :- )

If you're right Moe then Taylor could provide us a true WS-class benchie.  And the M's under Zduriencik didn't mind having Taylor compete with Miller in the same clubhouse...


I may be the oldest of all of you. I watched Aaron, Mathews, Spahn, Buhl, Burdette, & Co. in Milwaukee in the 50s, and then the SFGiants from 1958 on. Unfortunately, the only AL clubs I could watch were the Yankees on the games shown on Portland TV in the spring and fall, and the 1959 Go-Go Sox when they played in the World Series. But I certainly see the connection Diderot is making - the classic Latin SS profile starting with Carrasquel, Aparicio, and on. I might throw Pagan of the 60s Giants in there as maybe closer to Marte's expected skill level - which is not bad; he had a decent career and got MVP votes in '62, but he wasn't the wizard Aparicio was.


Ya, we knew you were a retiree, not in the Mr. Fredericksen sense but in the legendary sense.  But, wow, the Braves in the 1950s!

It's starting to become clearer to me why the comments sections at SSI are the best sports articles around...


BTW, my baseball goes back only to the 1972 Big Red Machine, which hit its end point exactly as the Seattle Mariners franchise was born.  Tough transition from Johnny Bench to Scrapiron Stinson. 


I was two when the Go Go Sox played the World Series. But I read all about that team as a youngster and Luis Aparicio was the first major league star I ever saw take the plate live, when the Pilots played the Chisox in their first home night game. Diego Segui vs. Luis Aparicio - for me it was "Welcome to the Bigs, kid." 


My Grandmother was a Braves season-ticket holder from the time they got to Milwaukee 'til she couldn't walk anymore (mid-1960s - she'd been born in the 1880s). She taught me to keep score when I had just learned to read, listening to Braves away games on radio in the store my grandparents owned near Fond du Lac.

By late '72, I was a 2nd class Electronics Technician (nuclear) in the Navy, starting my 1st sea tour (which ended in '78). That period was my time away from the game. (38 months underway around a 22-month refueling overhaul will do that).


Franklin is one of the guys people are not expecting to put up much WAR.

Let's review the bidding:

Player A: .272/.319/.566/.885

Player B: .281/.345/.535/.880

That's the results from 2013 through 2015 of 2 players on the Ms. A is Guti (in 316 ABs). B is Nelson Cruz. I think both have an opportunity to make the predictions look insanely regressed and conservative. If Guti gets 300 ABs (quite probable, since his platoon splits are not massive), he might give us 3.0 WAR with that hitting and his fielding; even with the lost step I'll bet the tracker shows his routes to be among the most efficient in MLB.

tjm's picture

I've been out of commission as a commenter the last couple months trying to finish a project which I've now got in its death throes. Yay, I won!  But I had no idea you guys were so old. I'm a mere pup. Saw my first MLB games in 1957 and Aparicio played in them, a Yankee-White Sox double header. So did Mantle, Minoso, Fox, Lollar, McDougal and a bunch of guys nobody ever heard of. Andy Carey anybody?  Berra caught both games of that double header and let a foul pop land behind hiom without ever getting out of the crouch.

Like Bat missed a few years in the late 60s early 70s due to overseas complications, but have been following the game ever since.

I'm both interested and apalled by Dipoto's offseason. Martin? Really? Love that he has an idea. Hates that he seems to be a true beleiver. True belief has caused more death and dismemberment and not just in the AL West than any other factor in human history. Not that I expect Dipoto to kill anybody, perhaps excepting me.

The project, by the way, is called Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception. due out from Pantheon either next fall or the following spring. It's a history of pitching told through a single game and a guy named Felix features in it prominently.


Well the first shortstop I ever saw was Ernie Banks, so maybe I can be forgiven for liking Ripken, Tejada, Jeter and ... Miller.

However, my first recollection of anything specific in baseball was at age 4 when my dad was furious at Chicago management for the trade of Lou Brock to the Cardinals of all the "blessed" teams as he would put it. My dad said even back then that the Cubs were bound to stay losers for years and years to come. 


...and the amazing thing at the time of that trade was that all the Chicago sportwriters mocked the Cardinals. "We got Ernie Broglio for Brock!?"

I guess some things never change...


What type of ignitor are we talking about? The classic for me is Henderson/Raines and I don't think he's in that speed range. Ichiro is mentioned and although it's Alvin Davis that had the AL rookie record for IBB (16) Ichiro accruing 10 tells a lot about how quickly he was respected. Nobody walked Henderson on purpose very often. Raines and Ichiro...The IBBs Ichiro has 31 more in 258 less PA career. Griffey is 6th with 246, Ichiro 27th with 179. uhh, count the 98 in Japan for Ichiro and he passes Griffey and gets within 20 of Aaron and Pujols. Then there's that guy that got more in 1 year than all but 83 players in thier career. I hope that rabbit hole was as interesting to you all, I'm appreciating Ichiro even more in this moment.

Looking at Aparicio by the numbers, he looks like Jose Reyes with just a bit less pep and pop. It seems that can be enough to be the best a franchise has ever had there:

Cico Carrasqual stole 31 bases over10 seasons. Don't think that's the offensive mold.

Jose Pagan...did you pick him because of moving off SS, lesser SB totals? The more I look at those stats. ..I thought Jose Lopez was an insult, geez. 46 SB in 15 years? I'm looking at these offensive stats thinking "Betancourt put up better numbers here".

Were you envisioning the defense with those comparisons or have you not tried the KoolAid?

Ketel has 100 MiL SB and I'm looking for an offensive profile that incorporates that. Doing a 7-degrees-of-most-similar-by-age isn't getting me anywhere. Ray Duhram with less pop (but at SS...)

Several dozens of players I've looked through now and I find Barry Larkin. Larkin without the pop? I'm not gonna claim he's that good, their pedigrees vary greatly to that point. Thier first cups are eerily similar though so let's check similarity score...Rewarded with:

Julio Franco
Rafael Furcal
Tony Fernandez who was listed in the previous chat by Tacoma Rain who also pushes Rennie Stennett.

All of them eventually clear the 10 HR plateau that Marte may not. But offensively he seems like he could fit in there somewhere. That list ranges from 75SB (Stennett) to 314 (Furcal).

Maybe I'm too hopeful still?


Actually the 1st two SS's I really remember included one guy who wasn't even really a SS:  '68 Series, Gibson's Cards vs. McLain's Tigers.

Tigers played MIckey Stanley at SS, after a career in CF.  OK, he did have a handful of SS starts near the end of that year, but he was basically a noob at the position.  Made sense, though:  Got Oyler's dismal bat out of the lineup and it let them go with Northrup in CF and Kaline-Horton on the corners.  Those guys OPS+'ed 129-146-165 that year~  Stanley was a hack, comparitively, at 102.  Oyler and Traceweski were 20 and 43!  Facing Gibson a possible 3 times would make you want to load up your offense.  I've always thought Mayo Smith's move of that year's Gold Glove CF'er to SS for the Series, to give him some more pop, was one of the neatest managing moves ever.  Detroit, of course, wins the Series, with Lolich whooping Gibson in the finale.  Good stuff!

The Cards had glove-ematician Dal Maxvill at SS, and his career 57 OPS.  He was a 91 guy in '68, however, his career year.  '68 was so pitcher dominated that Maxvill got to 91 with a combined 14 XB hits (one homer) out of his 116 total hits.  

One of the advantages to being a teacher's kid was that I could watch some of these games downstairs in the teachers' room at school.  Did the same in '69, a Series I remember even more well.

If the M's had made the Series in '01, could you imagine Lou moving his GG CF, Mike Cameron, to SS so he could get Stan Javier in the lineup?  Well, actually he would have just played McLemore at SS, but you get the idea.

Saw my first color TV sporting event in '68, as well: Late January:  Game of the Century, with Elvin Haye's Houston Cougars vs. Lew Alcindor's UCLA Bruins.  Super Bowl II was held just 6 days earlier, sometime in-between my dad had got our first color TV.  Pretty cool stuff!


Thanks for all the trips down memory lane, guys.

And apologies to all those to whom these memories mean little or nothing. I hope you can indulge us. All I can say is what older people have always told younger people: "Just wait, you'll do it too some day."


Just clarification.

And I do appreciate the perspectives. Rickey Henderson the ignitor is what got me in to baseball at a young age. I don't expect to see another on that level but I do hope he's a Mariner if it ever happens.

So about that offensive profile

@21 Marte .283/.351/.402 .753 113 OPS+ 247 PA 14 2B 3 3B 2 HR 8 SB 24 BB 43 K
@22 Larkin .283/.320/.403 .722 95 OPS+ 169 PA 4 2B 3 3B 3 HR 8 SB 9 BB 21 K

Keep in mind that Marte's MiL numbers are not his equal, though at a younger age.

I'm scared to be let down by any belief that comparison can lead to.


Barry Larkin had pretty good power, hit 33 dingers one year, and also walked 70 times a year.  But if you take his (pre-prime) age-24 season, that's what I'd be shooting for if I were Ketel Marte.

Maybe I'm way off track :- ) but for me, Ketel Marte just doesn't have the size to project to average-solid power.  Would love to hear dissenting opinions.


Paper route money. How funny that he had his best hitting season in the year of the pitcher. Maybe because he was the only NL shortstop who didn't have to face Gibson and his 1.12 ERA.  So funny that his offensive WAR doubled his defensive WAR that season (2.7 total, 2.4 O, 1.2 D). Maxvill played all seven games and never got a hit in that '68 series.

I loved the Cards, loved Brock, Gibson, Flood, McCarver. I stayed a Cards fan until the McGwire era because they became just another slugging team. Up til then it was pitching, defense, and speed, speed, marvelous speed, first on grass and later on the artificial turf.  


1958. Paper route money as well. Went to the NAS Alameda Navy Exchange with my $27 and got a MacGregor Gil McDougald personal model glove (best they had for an infielder). I still have and use the glove. I had it rebuilt by the Gloveman (who used to do a lot of MLB gloves -- while I was stationed at Mare Island in the 80s. Even today, I don't think I could find one that fits my hand better.

I still have my McDougald 1956-57-58-59 & 60 baseball cards, which I kept when I sold my baseball card collection (to fund some home improvements) after I retired from the Navy in 1995. Treasures of my youth.

For those who don't know, Gil McDougald was Zobrist for Casey Stengel before there was a Ben Zobrist (or Mark McLemore). Versatile, hard-nosed, and likeable, he was hard to dislike even if he was a Yankee. In fact, he retired after being picked by the Angels in the 1961 expansion draft because he didn't want to play for anyone else.


Listening to you elders talk makes me feel young -- but AARP keeps reminding me that I'm in their target demographic.  Nothing more encouraging than an organization representing senior and nearly senior citizens sending you a birthday card to remind you that you're old enough to join.  *grins* 


Started watching the Dodgers around 1970.  Dad started covering the M's at the very beginning and the M's and Dodgers shared space in my rooting interest before the M's took over pretty much completely in '84 with the arrival of Davis and Langston.

I do remember the vaunted Dodgers pitching of Sutton/Osteen and CF Willie Davis and guys like Wes Parker.  Dad was a Giant fan at that time.

SonicBOOM!'s picture

To calibrate... the first SS I saw live was Rico Petrocelli, so my parents tell me, sitting in Emil Sick's seats (first row, directly behind home plate) at the local ballyard. (We must have "moved down"- no insider connections, that I'm aware of.) The following year, Rico moved to Boston, and the Angels took over the Rainiers (which of course, they insisted upon calling the "Seattle Angels".) The first SS I saw on TV must have been either Maury Wills or Tony Kubek in the '63 series (the Yankees dropped that one in four.) And the first MLB shortstop I saw, live, would have been Ray ("Oil Can") Oyler, immortalized in Ball Four for his 305+1/4' home run to the left field corner of that same Sicks Seattle Stadium. 

Those Were the Days!

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