2022 Pod Projections: Ketel Marte

The 2022 Pod Projections are now available and include over 550 player forecasts! As usual in my Pod Projection posts, I’ll dive into my projection methodology (detailed in Projecting X 2.0) by sharing my process on several hitters and pitchers.

2022 Pod Projection Index
Wander Franco
Logan Webb

Ketel Marte enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 after years of sitting in the replacement level pool in shallower mixed leagues. It wasn’t just a fantasy breakout that brought 32 homers, 10 steals, and a .329 batting average though. He also posted a sizzling .405 wOBA, so he actually stepped up his offense in a dramatic way. Obviously, it was understandable to question whether his newfound offense and specifically power, were sustainable. If you solely reviewed his 2020 performance, your answer would have been a clear no. His power vanished and he swiped just one base. So his price got knocked down as perhaps 2019 looked like the fluke.

What did he do in 2021? Exactly what was hoped for in 2020! It just came a year later. While his power didn’t nearly reach the heights of his 2019 season, he essentially finished in between his 2018 and 2019 seasons, which is convenient as that’s always the safe forecast when you’re not really sure how repeatable a breakout is. Now, fantasy owners are struggling to value him. In NFBC leagues drafting this month, he has been selected as early as 47th overall and as late as 106th overall, with an ADP rank of 72 overall. So how do we project him for 2022? Let’s find out together.

Plate Appearances: 616

Marte has struggled with injury and has recorded 600 PAs just once over his career. With no health questions at the moment, it would be silly to assume another injury costing him significant time, but his history has to be accounted for. So despite being expected to hit second in the lineup and earning the second most PA/G, the PA projection is just modestly over 600, rather than in the mid-to-high 600 range you would expect from a number two hitter whose locked into the spot and remains healthy all year.

BB%: 8.6%

This is higher than his last three seasons and above his career mark as well. Why? Because he actually just underperformed his xBB% by the highest rate of his career, while simultaneously posting his highest xBB% a well. So his walk skills actually increased last year, as he took the second highest rate of 3-0 counts of his career. Walk rate increases with age, and it typically also rises as players display more power (you know, those unintentional intentional walks when pitchers are being far more careful).

K%: 14.7%

Marte’s strikeout rate jumped last year to his highest mark since 2016. We often see that when a hitter increases his power as he needs to adjust his approach to tap into that power. It didn’t happen to Marte in 2019, but it did in 2021. The thing is, just like he underperformed his xBB%, he also underperformed his xK%. While his xK% did rise, it didn’t rise nearly as much as his actual mark. He also still makes excellent contact and has never posted a SwStk% over 8.0%. The fact he hasn’t had to give up contact for power is impressive.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 45.5% / 21.5% / 33%

Not much different than what he has been posting the past couple of seasons. He has become more of a fly ball hitter compared to his first two seasons as his power has increased. However, his FB% remains below the league average.

BABIP: .320

This is just barely above his career mark of .318. His xBABIP has remained above .300 every season except for the short 2020 one. He has now handily outperformed that xBABIP for three straight seasons, so he’s either on a luck string, or the equation is missing something. Keep in mind that my extra variables added to Statcast’s xBABIP boosted his Pod xBABIP in 2019 and 2020, and yet Marte still finished well ahead. My xBABIP was nearly the same as Statcast’s in 2021, but again he outperformed.

HR/FB Ratio: 16%

Here’s where it gets fun. With an 11% career HR/FB rate and a tiny 3.8% mark mixed in with his double digit marks, I would almost always project a slightly lower 2022 mark than posted in 2021. Given a 2021 mark of 15.6%, I might forecast a 14.5% or maaaaaybe 15% mark. Instead, I zagged and am projecting a slightly higher HR/FB rate in 2022. Why? Check this out:

Season HR/FB xHR/FB Diff
2017 7.9% 10.0% -2.1%
2018 10.9% 14.2% -3.3%
2019 19.0% 20.5% -1.5%
2020 3.8% 6.5% -2.7%
2021 15.6% 20.1% -4.6%

The first thing you might notice is man, he has underperformed his xHR/FB rate every year! That’s true, and like any equation, it’s likely that there are players that are doing, or not doing, something that isn’t captured, resulting in annual overperformance or underperformance. Whether it’s the park, the hitter, or a combination of the two, Marte might consistently underperform his xHR/FB rate. I’m not quite convinced of it just yet since the sample size doesn’t look quite large enough, but we’re getting close.

Next, let’s throw out 2020. It was a short season and he was bothered by a wrist injury that most likely affected his power. So now we see his 2019 and 2021 xHR/FB rates were almost identical! You just didn’t know because he underperformed his xHR/FB rate by the highest margin of his career. Since he’s now posted a 20%+ xHR/FB rate twice, it’s now far more believable than the first time he did it in 2019. So my HR/FB rate projection assumes the gap between his actual mark and xHR/FB rate will narrow, but also account for the possibly he can’t quite keep up this level of home run power skills.

Runs and RBI: 86 and 80

Despite batting second almost the entire season he was on the field last year, his runs per times on base (a Projecting X 2.0 formula) was far below the league average. Sure, his Sprint Speed took a hit last year and flipped to below average, but it still says a lot more about the Diamondbacks offense last year. I expect better, especially now with the DH.

His RBI rate, on the other hand, was actually high for a two-hole hitter last year. I expect some regression there but still a solid rate given his propensity to hit doubles.

SB: 5

Marte debuted looking like he would be a nice stolen base contributor and might pop the occasional homer. He has morphed into a nice home run contributor who might steal the occasional base. I’m projecting a marginal increase in stolen base rate, but given the aforementioned big decline in Sprint Speed, I don’t see double digit steals again.

Below is my final projected hitting line, along with the other systems for comparison:

Ketel Marte Projections
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
Yellow = most optimistic
Red = most pessimistic

This is how I hoped this comparison would turn out. As a reminder, I do not check other projection systems after I finish a forecast to see how mine compares, so this is actually the first time I have compared mine to the rest. After the long spiel on Marte’s xHR/FB rate, it would have been worthless if the other systems were as or more bullish as I was on his home run total! So this is a good example of being able to use a proprietary equation to differentiate my forecast. Of course, I could be wrong and look like the silly one. But the valuable projections are those that are different. There’s no advantage when all the projections are the same, as everyone will likely be drafting with the some forecasts in front of them regardless of which system they come from, and that’s no fun.

I am also slightly more bullish on his walk rate, which was fully explained as well. All these small differences result in a higher projected batting average (well, the higher BABIP drives that too) and make him a strong four-category contributor without losing his owners value in steals.

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.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 months ago

He was pretty clearly helped by the bouncy ball in 2019. A bunch of those homers turned into doubles last year, which is what I expect going forward.

8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

He’s underperformed his xHR/FB rate every year, as you’ve noted, and you also have no explanation.

The simplest answer is usually (not always) the correct one.

I’m a big believer that none of the x-projections are doing a good job accounting for the constantly changing ball.

I’m willing to be convinced, but few of the obvious “power gains out of nowhere in 2018-2019 that returned to their baseline in 2020 when the ball changed back” guys had power return in 2021: Bergman, Marte, Andujar, Torres, Bogaerts.

There are all sorts of other possible explanations for those guys, but I don’t know why you would just ignore the ball completely.

Joe Wilkeymember
8 months ago
Reply to  dl80

So I would assume the “bouncy ball” would show up in exit velocity, right? If this is the case, then we would expect Marte’s EV to be down from his 2018-2019 seasons. However, his EV on fly balls was up from ~91.0 over 2018-2019 combined to 93.6 in 2021. I don’t believe the modified ball is the culprit here.

While my numbers disagree with Mike’s for 2021, I chalk that up to Mike taking a more overall approach, where my system takes a more granular approach. I’m not as bullish on Marte for this year, but I still think his power will be closer to his 2019 mark than his 2020 mark. I think that 16% HR/FB projection is just about right.

8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wilkey

I believe the issue is partly the lower seams, making less air friction. So the ball flies farther, but the EV isn’t actually any higher.

8 months ago
Reply to  dl80

Then compare his EV to that of other sluggers with similar ranges. Easy. You’re arguing just to argue without considering all the data presented in the article. Letting other people present ideas and theories that you can then pick apart by changing your original claim (first the ball was bouncy but when that was debunked now it’s because of the seams) rather than laying out a real conclusion supported by data and facts of your own.

8 months ago
Reply to  dodgerbleu

Ok, fair enough. What’s your explanation for the two year power blip with a bunch of young hitters who had never shown that kind of power before, even in the minors?

Last edited 8 months ago by dl80
8 months ago
Reply to  dl80

EV and launch angle. The DJLM’s (not young but relevant) and Bregman’s of the world had very suspect EV during that time. Marte did not.