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Ketel Marte Now Leads NL in Hits, Is He a Bona Fide MVP Candidate?

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in MLB Baseball

Jul 10, 2019 · 7:07 AM PDT

Ketel Marte of the Diamondbacks
Ketel leads the Diamondbacks in nearly every offensive category and is tied for the National League lead with 110 hits. Photo By Ian D'Andrea (Flickr)
  • Ketel Marte is now listed as an MVP candidate for the first time all season
  • Marte is the NL hits leader, but trails both Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich in nearly every other significant offensive category
  • Who is the best bet to win the NL MVP?

It didn’t take long for Ketel Marte to make Diamondbacks fans forget the name Paul Goldschmidt. After Goldschmidt was traded to St. Louis in the offseason, Arizona was left searching for a new face of the franchise and Marte has stepped in and filled that role admirably.

He’s on pace to reach career highs in every significant offensive category and is now a top six contender to win the NL MVP for the first time all season.

2019 National League MVP Odds

Player Odds
Cody Bellinger -125
Christian Yelich +160
Nolan Arenado +850
Anthony Redon +1400
Freddie Freeman +1400
Ketel Marte +1800
Pete Alonso +1800
Ronald Acuna Jr +1800
Josh Bell +2200
Javier Baez +2800

*Odds taken 07/09/19

His 2019 NL MVP odds are much longer than those of run-away favorites Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich, but you could argue he’s had just as big an impact on his team this season as they’ve had on theirs.

A Surprising Rise to Stardom

Prior to 2019, Martel had just two seasons with more than 225 at-bats. He’d never hit anywhere close to .300 and he averaged a home run every 63.6 at-bats.

This year, he leads the Diamondbacks in nearly every offensive category and is tied for the National League lead with 110 hits.

He’s fourth in the NL in WAR among positional players, sixth in average and tenth in slugging. He’s increased his slugging percentage by 132 points this season which has led to far more balls leaving the yard. After hitting just 22 home runs in 402 career games prior to this season, he now has 20 in 87 games in 2019.

Marte’s also made big improvements to his exit velocity meaning he’s making harder contact than ever before. His hard hit rate is up to 43% this season and more importantly his soft contact rate is down from 20.9% in 2018 to just 12.3% this season.

He’s a great story and the number one reason why the Diamondbacks are currently in the thick of the NL Wild Card hunt. Unfortunately, when it comes to his MVP prospects, he’s simply not in the same talent class as Bellinger and Yelich.

The NL MVP is a Two-Horse Race

The NL MVP race is going to come down to the wire. Both Bellinger and Yelich are lapping Marte and the rest of the field in nearly every major offensive category. Yelich may be a slight underdog in the betting market, but he’s actually outpacing Bellinger in home runs, OBP, slugging and OPS.

He’s put up better power numbers in fewer at-bats and has also stolen 19 bases compared to just eight by Bellinger. In a race this close I’ll gladly take the value that Yelich’s +160 odds present.

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