Photo: Rick Ulerich/Icon Sportswire

Today we named Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho and Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien as our Defensive Players of the Month. If it had been the Defensive Duo of the Month, we would have gone in another direction.

Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker and second baseman Ketel Marte were each worthy on their own of being given the top honor. Together, the Diamondbacks right side of the infield was terrific, even if the team sputtered to a 14-18 start.

The Diamondbacks have had more ground balls and bunts hit from the first base line out from home plate at an angle that roughly replicates the midpoint between home plate and second base. They’ve been the 2nd-best team at turning those balls into outs.

Both Walker and Marte have 8 Defensive Runs Saved this season. Walker, a 2-time Fielding Bible Award winner, easily leads first basemen in Runs Saved. Marte is second to Semien at second base.

Christian Walker

You know how it’s said that the best players make the routine plays routinely?

Walker has had 52 opportunities to make plays with an out probability of at least 64%. He’s completed 51 of them, the lone one he didn’t was because Brandon Pfaadt dropped Walker’s throw at first base (Walker still gets credit for successfully fielding the ball). Those “routine” plays account for 5 of Walker’s 8 Runs Saved.

Walker has also made the tough plays when needed, like this one.

Ketel Marte

Marte has usually been a good defensive second baseman, though he’s only played more than 100 games in a season at the position twice. He’s averaged about 6 Runs Saved per 1,000 innings, which is a solid total. He’s totaled as many as 14 Runs Saved in a season though he had only 2 last season.

What’s separated Marte through the first 15 to 20% of the season is that he’s minimized his mistakes in a way that runs counter to the last 2 seasons.

Season Innings Misplays & Errors Misplays & Errors Per 1,000 Innings
2022 806 1/3 18 22.3
2023 1,210 1/3 28 23.1
2024 228 2 8.8

And he’s sprinkled in a few nice plays too.


That the Diamondbacks entered Thursday ranked 4th in Runs Saved as a team is basically entirely the duo’s doing. The rest of the Arizona team has a combined 3 Runs Saved.

What they’ve done on defense has basically mirrored what they’ve done on offense. Marte and Walker lead the Diamondbacks in the batting runs component of Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement too. They’re legit MVP candidates for multiple reasons.