When a guy starts the season like Ketel Marte (2B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) has — including last night’s 2-2 effort where he knocked a home run and a double with two runs, an RBI, and a walk — it’s time to learn a little bit about him and what he’s doing. For starters, I’ve been saying his name wrong for a solid two years now, assuming that it was either said like “kettle,” like the way they cook the crunchy potato chips, or “keh-TELL,” where my title about potato chips would still kind of work. Being a thorough, legitimate writer (I am none of those things, FYI), I always check the pronunciation guides before I settle on a pun for a title to make sure I’m not way off on how it’s said. While I am happy to know how he says his name, I am sad that I can’t use any of the potato chip references I have been brainstorming.
On a slightly more serious note, it’s worth trying to figure out how he already has seven home runs on the season when his career high is 14 (which he set last season). He’s off to a solid .263/.313/.525 start, and the last number in that line is what really stands out. On the surface, it appears that he’s becoming more aggressive at the plate, which can certainly lead to more power. He’s not swinging and missing more than usual, but he is chasing balls outside the zone more while also making more contact overall. That’s not necessarily bad, however; there’s a bit of a discrepancy between his actual results and his expected results per Statcast. Statcast, it turns out, still sees the old version of the 25-year-old in the batted-ball data, with an xBA of .251 and an xSLG of .426. That version of Marte, a version we’ve seen in the past, is a mildly useful middle infield option in 12-team leagues and is more of an injury replacement/streamer in 10-team formats with a slight bump in value in points leagues because of the low strikeout rate. Even though second base is arguably the weakest position outside of catcher, there’s still enough depth that a 20-home run, seven-stolen base season with a .265 batting average would be a very middling option outside of 15-team leagues. While I’m now a fan of Marte after watching a few videos about him (mostly to learn his name and also because he seems like a humble, respectable man), I can’t really give him a ringing fantasy endorsement.
Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) — 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. I don’t have a ton to add to my colleague Jim Chatterton’s write up of him in this piece this past Sunday (it’s an early candidate for article title of the year), but as Jim pointed out, the results aren’t fluky and we may be seeing something close to 80-90% of his 2017 breakout.
Adam Engel (OF, Chicago White Sox) — 3-4, 2 R, 3B, RBI. I liked Engel as a 15-team sleeper for his 20-stolen base upside, but he’s lost his grip on an everyday role in the outfield and strikes out too much to provide any ratio support. He’s worth mentioning for AL-only owners and 15-team players who need to speculate on steals, as he has zero on the year, and that is BOUND to change. But his lack of success has been a real bummer.
Danny Santana (OF, Texas Rangers) — 2-3, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. I talked about him a bit in the comments yesterday, but the short version is that we’ve seen Santana get hot before only to see him cool off into the replacement-level player he really is. He will stay up while he’s hot, but Ronald Guzman’s return will likely end any chance at regular playing time at the first sign of Santana turning back into, well, Danny Santana. You can stream him as a fifth outfielder in 12- and 15-team leagues, but don’t cut any healthy top 250 players to do it.
Rowdy Tellez (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) — 2-3, R, HR, RBI, BB. He’s a pretty classic trope for a young power hitter: limited patience, plenty of power. He’s an excellent hitter against righties thus far, with a 163 wRC+ in 117 plate appearances against them so far, making him a great DFS play against right-handed pitchers and an option in 12-team redraft leagues that require a corner infielder. He’s a tough play in points leagues, though, because of his high strikeout rate, and he’ll be a major drag in batting average and OBP in head-to-head categories and roto.
Randal Grichuk (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) — 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. The power has slowed down considerably after a fast start, but the Blue Jays continue to trot him out toward the top of the order, so he’s still a good back-end outfield power source in five-outfielder formats. If healthy (a significant “if”) for a full season, there’s still potential for 27 to 30 home runs with an OK batting average.
Raimel Tapia (OF, Colorado Rockies) — 1-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, SB. I want to be excited about the former prospect’s .264 batting average and .542 slugging percentage as part of the Rockies, but that pesky Statcast is showing me a .210 xBA and .345 xSLG. That, combined with the Rockies’ obsession with toying with young hitters, is reason enough to stay away outside of very deep leagues.
Jose Martinez (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) — 2-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He’s hitting the ball well, but I’m still worried that the Cardinals will get sick of his abysmal defense — only unlike 2018, there’s no chance of him getting slotted in at first base now that Paul Goldschmidt is on the roster. He’s a gamble but not an awful one because of his ability to make strong contact.
Oh, one last thing before you go: If you can think of a good Twitter handle using my easy-to-work-with last name (Chu), I’d really appreciate it! Just tweet it to me or drop it in the comments. Only rule is that it has to sound less stupid than spelling “ChusephEsquire” when I say it in a podcast.
(Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire)
I like this. It reflects the grumpiness that has been settling in with age.
This one is obvious.
This is actually my team name in every league I’m in.
“…there’s still enough depth that a 20-home run, seven-stolen base season with a .265 batting average would be a very middling option outside of 15-team leagues.”
Using Steamer, there’s only one other 2B in the league that would satisfy a .265-20-7 level of production.
Perhaps true, King, but there’s a bit more than just those three categories to overall value. Those numbers, in my opinion, are his ceiling, which would be similar to what we projected for Gleyber Torres coming into the year. By most projections, Torres was something like the #10 overall 2B. That’s Ketel’s ceiling. His most likely finish is probably between 12 and 17 at the position, even with this hto start. That’s still awfully good — I just can’t call him a starting 2B in shallow leagues yet, especially with Statcast indicating that he hasn’t changed as much as the actual results would lead us to believe.
I don’t know that that makes it much more valuable. Would you not be better off getting good production in one or two categories? Why not stream that production?
I would agree with that, theKraken. In a 10- or 12- team league, he’s worth keeping while he’s hot, but unless you have an MI spot, he’ll be tough to keep. In some roster constructions, the balanced production has value, but if your team build requires a rabbit (like Gordon or Peraza), batting average master (like LeMahieu or McNeil) or a masher (like Schoop or Shaw), Marte is unlikely to be what you’re looking for.
Was mildly excited to see my boy Katel photo and story today. Then after reading was puzzled. I’m in both a categories league and points league. I traded for Katel before the season in both leagues. Your opinion is your opinion, but still feel I got a steal with this kid. In categories league he is currently second only behind Albies. In points league he is fifth and ahead of Altuve. Maybe he doesn’t keep it up, but I’m much more happier than you are about my new snake!
Well Maris, I’m not going to say you’re wrong, I’m just going to say that the Statcast data doesn’t really support his current results. I think the power isn’t sustainable, and that’s what’s giving him that extra value boost. A 20 HR, 7-8 SB season is probably his ceiling, even with this start. While he is currently producing at a high level, my analysis is based on what I think it will be ROS. ROS, I think he’s comparable to Starlin Castro — decent batting average, 10-12 more HR, and 5-7 more steals. Preseason, I had Ketel Marte as something like my 20th overall second baseman. I don’t think I could put him above Baez, Altuve, Merrifield, Albies, Villar, Murphy, Moncada, or Shaw, and his ceiling is still probably lower than Torres, Odor, or Cano. That’s 11 guys right there, and we haven’t even started discussing Dee Gordon, Asdrubal Cabrera, Kike Hernandez, or Niko Goodrum.
I like him, but I don’t see any path to being a top 10 2B, and even top 15 won’t be easy with his limited power and speed.
I dig it.
I am surprised you left Jose Abreu off. I don’t know that anyone had a bigger day than him yesterday and I don’t think anyone has been hotter over the past week. Not much more than a week ago, he was the subject of “struggles” articles and he already has his AVG above .290. Baez had a good game yesterday as well.
Time was part of the concern, theKraken — I was running a bit behind and had to make a cut. I make a conscious effort to limit the number of top 50 hitters that I include in any given Batter’s Box to 1 or 2, and for this piece, and I’ll generally avoid commenting on a top 20 hitter entirely unless they’ve been slumping badly or if I’ve come across something particularly interesting.
For today’s piece, I chose to highlight Ozuna because it was faster and because I like to highlight work by my colleagues if I can. Had I had the time to include Abreu, I’d have discussed how Abreu certainly looks like the 2014-2017 version of himself so far, which is a very good thing for those who picked him up in drafts.
OOH nice! Stayed away from the obvious with this one.
I’ll stream Marte (if he’s available) every time the DBacks are facing at least 3 lefties in a week, sometimes even 2, (he mashes them,) depending on the other matchups involved. If he’s facing lefties and he’s at home, he’s a definite start. Other than that situation he seems a lot like the middling infielder his xStats show over the last couple seasons…
Although I think there’s a bit more potential there if you include the juiced ball into the equation. He was a GB machine in late ’16 and through ’17, the most recent juiced-ball period. He also wasn’t an every-day player for a lot of that time either. This season he’s hitting less GB’s and more FB’s then he has yet in the majors (they’re not great numbers or anything, but they’re better than usual.) I think a modest jump in production both through experience and the “enhanced” ball could be possible this season. It might not be what a lot of the really excited owners are hoping for, but I could see people who picked him up w/ low expectations as an injury replacement being quite happy with what they get from him – especially if they always start him vs. lefties and seriously consider matchups and his home/road splits vs righties.
Katel encore tonight? What a night. Forgot to mention, I traded for and drafted Marte in two different leagues before the season at a one dollar salary in both leagues. A happy boy I am.