2022 Pod Projections: Ketel Marte — A Review

Let’s get back to reviewing the preseason Pod Projection writeups I shared. Today, I’ll review Ketel Marte, who enjoyed a breakout 2019, disappointed during the short 2020 season, and then rebounded nicely in 2021 during an injury plagued year. Refresh your memory by rereading my original breakdown.

Plate Appearances: 616 Projected | 558 Actual

Once again, Marte missed time due to injury, this time small chunks here and there from a sore hand, hamstring issue, COVID-19, and an undisclosed malady that ended his season early. He also hit third most often of any lineup slots, so that reduced his PAs/game when he was in the lineup, as the original expectation was that he would bat second most of the year.

BB%: 8.6% Projected | 9.9% Actual

Marte posted the second highest walk rate of his career, and highest since half a season in 2017. He saw the highest rate of pitches per plate appearance and the fewest rate of strikes, both clearly driving that higher walk rate.

K%: 14.7% Projected | 18.1% Actual

Along with the walk rate spike, Marte also struck out at the highest rate of his career, as opposed to rebounding from the increased mark he posted in 2021. That higher strikeout rate was supported by the highest SwStk% of his career, so he simply lost some contact ability. Since his ISO declined, it doesn’t seem like a conscious decision to sacrifice contact for power.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 45.5% / 21.5% / 33% Projected | 42.3% / 18.7% / 39% Actual

Lots of career extremes here, as he posted his lowest GB% and LD%, while his highest FB%. Who could have predicted that?! That FB% would have paired really nicely with his 2019 HR/FB rate.

BABIP: .320 Projected | .276 Actual

Marte posted another career extreme, this time a career worst BABIP, immediately following a career best BABIP in 2021. Gotta love it when that happens, but just goes to show you how much BABIP bounces around from season to season. Surely, the career worst LD% and career high FB% played a large role here.

HR/FB Ratio: 16% Projected | 7.8% Actual

My gosh, he has become one of the most difficult players to project HR/FB rate! The trend has truly depicted a yo-yo, bouncing up and down, and up and down. Amazingly, his maxEV has been remarkably consistent through the years, but his Barrel% has greatly ranged and mostly correlates to how high his HR/FB will end up. It becomes impossible to project what he’ll do next year, aside from assuming his HR/FB rate will finish somewhere between the high single digits and mid-teens. That’s too big a range to really be useful, but coming off a poor fantasy season means that at least he’ll come cheap enough to speculate.

Runs and RBI: 86 and 80 Projected | 68 and 52 Actual

That RBI total is pretty shocking given how much time he spent batting third. The down power, second lowest OBP of his career, missed time, and a bottom tier offense that ranked 21st in baseball in wOBA, all conspired to drive down his stat counts.

SB: 5 Projected | 5 Actual

Hey, I actually nailed one! After swiping 10 bases in 12 attempts in 2019, he has only stolen eight bases since. It’s pretty clear that his path to fantasy relevance is through power now and the steals are just a bonus.

Below is a comparison of my projected hitting line, the other forecasting systems, and 2022 actuals:

Projections vs Actuals
Actual 2022 492 558 0.240 12 68 52 5 9.9% 18.1% 0.276
629 PA Pace 555 629 14 77 59 6
Pod 557 616 0.300 25 86 80 5 8.6% 14.7% 0.320
ZiPS DC 586 644 0.290 20 82 73 6 7.6% 15.5% 0.319
THE BAT X 553 615 0.289 23 83 84 5 8.5% 15.0% 0.310
THE BAT 554 615 0.289 22 83 83 5 8.3% 15.0% 0.311
ATC 557 615 0.292 22 84 78 5 7.7% 14.6% 0.313
FGDC 580 644 0.290 21 86 77 5 8.0% 15.0% 0.316
Steamer 595 667 0.290 23 94 83 5 8.4% 14.6% 0.313

Obviously, all the forecasting systems were wrong on the counting stats due to Marte’s missed time. I therefore decided to average out his PA projections from all the systems, excluding FGDC, since it’s merely an average of ZiPS and Steamer. I then paced out his counting stats over the 629 PA average to better compare.

Marte’s performance almost makes me want to get out of the forecasting business! We all missed his batting average, with the most pessimistic projection of .289 still being far above his .240 actual mark. That’s because of two reasons — Marte totally missed our BABIP projections, which were all at .310 and above, versus a .276 actual mark, and he struck out far more often than expected at 18.1%, versus between 14.6% and 15.5% projections.

Every single forecast projected at least 20 home runs, and yet he only paced for 14 over a similar number of PAs. Similarly, we overestimated his runs scored and RBI totals, which disappointed due to his down power and batting average.

The only stat we came close to was his steals! Nearly all of the systems nailed his actual total, but he may have stolen another base if he recorded the additional PAs we had forecasted. So maybe half a win for us?

Finally, his second highest walk rate caught all of us off guard, though I actually was closest, leading the pack with the highest projected walk rate.

Given Marte’s inconsistency, he’s a difficult one to project next year. His range of outcomes also means he could earn just replacement level value in shallow mixed leagues, or earn top five value at second base. I guess if his cost is cheap enough, and it may very well be, he seems like a pretty decent risk/reward buy.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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