Where will D-backs All-Star Ketel Marte finish in the MVP race?
Somehow, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte has been overlooked this award season so far.
He did not win a Silver Slugger despite having the seventh-best OPS in baseball and third-best OPS among National League outfielders.
Maybe this is due to him playing 96 games in center field and 94 in the infield, but it is still hard to fathom a season of Marte’s caliber going unrewarded.
Perhaps he will get his attention in the MVP race. The AL and NL MVP will be announced on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Marte will not win the hardware, as he was not named a finalist by MLB. The three are Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) and Christian Yelich (Milwaukee Brewers).
But Marte has a great case to finish in the top five, a major accomplishment especially for a player who broke out this season.
Marte’s case against other hitters is simple.
He was a top-five batter in the National League basically all season, especially after the first month.
From the start of May through September, Marte hit .349 with an OPS of 1.032. Those are better numbers than Bellinger or Rendon had in that span.
There was essentially no sure way of getting Marte out.
As a switch hitter, he hit both lefties and righties incredibly well all season.
He was better against fastballs (.633 slugging), but still hit offspeed pitches very well.
According to Baseball Savant, he slugged .581 against breaking balls and .471 against change-ups. He even blasted a 482-foot home run off of a sinker.
Also, he was great with runners in scoring position (.936 OPS).
If you count just hitters for the NL MVP race then Marte is easily top five, probably at fourth.
Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña beat Marte for the outfield Silver Slugger, which can only be explained if the votes went against Marte for splitting time between multiple positions.
Acuña’s fWAR (wins Above replacement, according to fangraphs) is 1.5 games worse than Marte’s and his OPS was 98 points lower.
Defensively, Marte was the better overall fielder and superior outfielder according to FanGraphs, so there is no reason to vote Acuña over Marte in the MVP race unless team record is more important than individual performance.
What happens to his stock when you throw in pitchers?
No hurlers in the NL have a higher fWAR than Marte (7.1), but the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom is close (7.0).
deGrom is second in the NL in ERA, second in FIP, first in WHIP and first in strikeouts. He is the favorite to win the Cy Young, according to Vegas odds, and he could swipe the fourth-place finish from Marte.
Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer also had a tremendous season with 12.63 strikeouts per nine innings (best in NL) and a 2.45 FIP (best in MLB). His fWAR and bWAR (WAR according to Baseball Reference) are not up to Marte’s level, but the baseball writers could look at his other numbers and give him the votes.
Yelich and Bellinger are in a two-man race for the top spot as they are one and two in the NL in OPS, wRC+ and wOBA (weighted on-base average).
But, based on WAR, Marte should finish fourth in the MVP race right after Rendon.
Marte could finish fourth if deGrom and Scherzer split votes, but one of the two could easily surpass Marte. The D-back should not finish lower than sixth in the race, but fifth makes the most sense if one of the pitchers breaks into the top four.