Sports Illustrated: Ketel Marte’s great month of June at the plate
As the Arizona Diamondbacks have re-emerged in June, it has been the offense leading the charge.
Paul Goldschmidt has rightfully received most of the headlines, but he has been receiving help from an unsung hero.
Ketel Marte really struggled the first two months of the season and had two outside factors, receiving a contract extension late in spring training as well as Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger’s success in Seattle hurt his perception.
Heading into June, Marte was slashing .216/.273/.309 and there weren’t too many positive signs. He was striking out twice as much as he was walking, and the D-backs’ season appeared to be spiraling out of control.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Beller broke down how Marte was able to turn around. There weren’t any mechanical adjustments in Marte’s stance, but there was a major adjustment in his approach at the plate.
Add up the nine boxes that comprise the strike zone, and you’ll get a 72.8% swing rate for April and May, and an 80.8% swing rate for June. What’s more, Marte is crushing pitches in the zone this month, hitting .429 with a .943 slugging percentage.
A more aggressive approach at the plate has served Marte very well. In this era of baseball that believes in working deep counts in order to drive up pitch counts, this strategy may have harmed Marte’s performance.
In 2017, Marte had a very respectable on-base percentage of .345. Heading into his second full season in the National League, pitchers were attacking Marte getting him into difficult counts. Being more aggressive has allowed Marte to re-emerge at the plate as well as hit for power.
He has balanced eight strikeouts with six walks, and has provided the Diamondbacks another powerful, reliable bat with A.J. Pollock on the DL. The .778 slugging percentage in June ranks fifth in the majors, behind Goldschmidt, Eduardo Escobar, Max Muncy and Eddie Rosario. Who is right behind Marte in slugging for the month? Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna.
As the offense continues to improve, it will remain important that Marte continue his offensive production as long as A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. remain out with injuries.