Ketel Marte is having fun again, and on FIRE
By Jake Oliver
Much was said about how Ketel Marte was struggling throughout the first few weeks of the season. Many said how Marte got the bag and now doesn't have to try anymore. Others said he wasn't worth that amount of money. I, and others, preached patience. Ketel started late in Spring Training due to an eye issue, then started slowly to start the season.
From Opening Day, April 7th, to April 28th, Ketel hit .135/.207/.203/.410 with a horrible BABIP of .182, Quite simply, that was not going to continue to be the case long-term. Ketel had 20 Ks to only 5 doubles and 5 walks over 92 plate appearances. There was worry that maybe Ketel was hurt or just what was going on.
Then came the St. Louis Cardinals series for Ketel Marte. On April 28th, Ketel would go 1-for-4. That finally got Marte going. From April 28th to today, a span of 12-games that would include a 9-game hitting streak, Marte would hit .372/.460/.721/1.181 with a super-high BABIP of .438. Now, that won't survive the season. However, Marte's luck started to turn, and his power came back. Since April 30th, Marte has had the 2nd-highest OPS in the MLB. He has 1 triple, 7 doubles, 2 HRs, 4 RBI, and 7 walks to only 9 Ks as his plate control returned.
The supporting stats support Marte. FanGraphs has Marte's average exit velocity this year at 90.4 which is the 2nd-highest in his career. The one big issue that's plaguing Marte is the fact he's hitting more fly-balls and fewer line drives. On the season, Ketel has hit a fly-ball 38.2% of the time while only hitting a line drive 15.7% of the time. Over the last 3-years of his career, Ketel has averaged around 22%-line drives and a 32% Fly-ball rate. That's the area that Ketel must turn around.
If he does, I see no reason why Ketel can't continue to be one of the best hitters in the MLB. Marte's proven he can do it before. The 28-year-old is already hitting more line drives of late.
Not only has his offense come back alive, but his defense is also once again strong at 2nd. He's making highlight plays again while looking like his old 2019-self at the keystone again. It took an adjustment period but he's doing just fine there now.
Ketel Marte is the Arizona Diamondbacks' best player currently. He's the engine that truly will determine how well this team does. If he starts really doing awful, that's one key bat that the club won't have. If he continues this hot streak, don't be surprised if he pushes for another All-Star appearance and the Diamondbacks continue to shock the MLB World in 2022.