MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Cincinnati Reds on February 23, 2020 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Cincinnati Reds on February 23, 2020 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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Diamondbacks star Ketel Marte. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Diamondbacks star Ketel Marte. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

1. Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Once you get past the obvious suspects like Bellinger, Yelich, and Betts, Marte is the best bet to win his first batting title in 2020.

At age 26, he blossomed with the Diamondbacks in 2019.  Ketel Marte’s .3286 average nearly got the job done last year, finishing only about a half-point behind Yelich’s .3292. The difference amounted to one base-hit.

With a 28.3 percent chase rate, Marte doesn’t get himself out very often. He also had a 40 percent hard-hit percentage.

Perhaps most significantly, Marte’s game is on a severe uptick. His 89 mph exit velocity not only ranked among the game’s top one-third, but it was also a full mile per hour faster than in 2018. He improved his average by 69 percentage points from 2018 to 2019.

How did Marte do that? There was no one answer…in fact, the real answer may be balance. Marte batted .349 against fastballs, .310 against breaking stuff and .284 against offspeed. All three of those represented at least 30 percentage point improvements from 2018.

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While a first instinct might be to expect regression from those numbers toward the mean in 2020, what’s wrong with seeing them as growth? After all, Marte is only entering his age 26 season, a time when his game ought to be peaking. It looks like a strong peak.