Marte's sprint lights up Statcast measurements

Marte's sprint lights up Statcast measurements

NEW YORK -- Ketel Marte flashed his speed in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Yankees, catching everyone except Mariners third-base coach Manny Acta off guard when he scored all the way from first on a single to center by Robinson Cano for a key run in the fifth inning. But just how fast was Marte on the play?

According to Statcast™ measurements, the 22-year-old shortstop took just 8.9 seconds to run from first to home, which is the fastest recording of any baserunner in that situation in the Majors this season and the second-fastest since Statcast™ began tracking such things at the start of 2015.

Dee Gordon of the Marlins has the fastest Statcast-recorded time from first to home at 8.7 seconds last Sept. 9.

Marte's journey around three-quarters of the bases was swift for several reasons. He was running on the 2-2 pitch to start, which always is an advantage. He never broke stride, maintaining a high rate of speed the entire way. And he appeared to cut the bases and keep a straight line extremely well.

Thus, while Marte's maximum speed of 19.7 mph was fast, he was able to traverse the 270 feet from first to home quicker than many others who have hit higher max speeds. Gordon's max speed on his 8.7-second trek was 20.2 mph and there have been more than 90 players with higher top speeds, but slower first-to-home times during the Statcast™ era.

Marte's jumping throw

Credit Marte's all-out hustle from start to finish as well as his instincts and willingness to trust Acta without hesitation when the third-base coach waved him home.

"The nice thing about that play is he just didn't cruise into third," said manager Scott Servais. "He kept his head up and his eyes on Manny. Most guys kind of put their head down and cruise into third base there, looking over their shoulder. He didn't. He kept his eyes on Manny the whole time which allowed Manny to wave him home."

Said Marte: "I was a little surprised. But when Cano got the base hit, I was going to second base. I looked at Manny and he sent me and I just gave 100 percent. I just have to focus and look at Manny. If he sends me, I've got to go. But I was ready."

Acta said Mariners runners are coached to go full speed until told otherwise. And as he read the play in front of him on a ball to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Acta never hesitated either.

"The ball was to the side [of Ellsbury] and Marte runs very well," Acta said. "He [Ellsbury] doesn't have the strongest arm, obviously. So you have to challenge him. There are two outs, it's a very close game and Felix [Hernandez] is on the mound and we need to get on the board."

Marte has stolen nine bases in 67 games since being promoted from Triple-A on July 31 last year to become the starting shortstop, and the switch-hitter does run well.

"That is a big part of his game," Servais said. "He can cover a lot of ground defensively, and obviously when he gets on base, he can create some havoc and do those things."

Worth noting

• Right-handed setup man Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect eighth in Seattle's win Saturday in his first appearance in eight days due to a sore shoulder, but Servais said he likely won't use the 38-year-old in back-to-back situations just yet.

"I thought he looked good," Servais said. "He looked free and easy without any restrictions. He was getting after it. The changeup was good and the fastball had plenty of life. It was probably better than I thought it was going to be. He hadn't pitched in a while. But we'll be careful there. I'd like to give him some time. It's about the whole season."

Seth Smith has been limited mostly to DH duties as he recovers from a sore groin muscle, but the 33-year-old did play the final two innings in right field Saturday and made a critical play to cut off a line drive in the gap and hold Starlin Castro to a single in the ninth that helped closer Steve Cishek record his first save.

"He got to it quickly and got it in quickly, which was a big point in the game," Servais said. "It looks like he's moving around better and feeling more comfortable with the groin issue. But playing right field here is a little different than playing right field in Safeco. Just less ground to cover, the fence is a little closer. That weighed into my decision."

Nelson Cruz made his eighth start in right field in Sunday's series finale, while Smith has started just once in the outfield in the first 12 games.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.