Zoning in on Ketel Marte


Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Leonys Martin.

Ketel Marte was one of the most exciting players on the 2015 Mariners. The performance was good, definitely, but there was just something about the way he went about playing the game.

“I really like what I’ve seen and heard the guys in the office talk about Ketel Marte,” manager Scott Servais said heading into Spring Training. “Ketel plays with a lot of confidence. He’s got a little swag; that’s a good thing. I think you need to have that when you walk on the field.”

He had plenty of reason to play with confidence last year, with the output he had in 57 games following a call-up right at the trade deadline last year. Over the span of 257 plate appearances, he put up a .283/.351/.402 line and scored 25 runs while batting mostly towards the top of the lineup.

In terms of on-base ability, that .351 mark was the fourth-best ever for a Mariners rookie. It was also in the top 10, at eighth overall, for rookies last year—given a minimum 240 plate appearances. In other control-the-zone type metrics, Marte was also in the top 10 among rookies in walk rate (8th) and making contact when he swings (9th).

But last year is last year, and now it’s all about what 2016 holds. That was the message from a teammate, one who was as excited as Servais by what he saw in Marte—that being Marte’s partner on the other side of the second-base bag, Robinson Cano.

“I loved what I saw from him,” Cano told Greg Johns of Mariners.com. “But I told him he needs to go home and say, ‘Yeah, I did good in my first year in the big leagues, but the second one is the toughest one because now people have high expectations. You have to go home and keep working on your speed. I don’t care if you want to hit 30 homers. Your job is to get on base for us and when you do that, get on base and steal bases, people are going to talk more about you than if you just hit homers.'”

Going back to the skipper, Cano’s idea for Marte’s role fits in well with Servais’ vision for how the Mariners will play in 2016.

“To win those games late, it’s not usually a home run or double off the wall,’’ Servais said. “It’s getting a leadoff guy on, getting him over, creating some havoc.”

Marte has the potential to do just that.

Off the Field

As Marte’s drawn praise from Cano because of what he’s done on the field, the two have also built up a relationship off of it as well, going back to this time last year, when Cano was showing Marte the ropes—and even had him cut his hair.

“Just having him be from the Dominican Republic and being an All-Star and being around him,” Marte said of Cano in speaking with Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times this time last year. “I take his advice and try to soak up as much as I can from him.”

“I get stuff from him on the field,” Marte said. “If he sees me doing something wrong, he’ll correct me and he’ll tell me, ‘You should do it this way.’ But off the field, he’s told me how you should act in big-league camp … how you should do everything. That’s been a big help.”








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