Quilvio Veras. Luis Castillo (twice). Juan Pierre. Dee Strange-Gordon (twice). And now, Jon Berti.
Berti, the speedy 32-year-old super-utility player, has become just the fifth player in Miami Marlins franchise history to win the MLB stolen base title. He stole 42 bases over 102 games. The Baltimore Orioles’ Jorge Mateo was the next closest with 35 stolen bases. The St. Louis Cardinals’ Tommy Edman, who stole 32 bases, was second in the National League.
“Speed has always kind of been there for me, especially through college and pro ball,” Berti said, “but the development of getting good reads and jumps and understanding what pitchers are trying to do in game situations and stuff like that has definitely taken some steps.”
Overall, he is just the 10th Marlins player to record at least 40 stolen bases in the season. Jose Reyes (2012), Emilio Bonifacio (2011), Hanley Ramirez (2006 and 2007), Edgar Renteria (1998) and Chuck Carr (1993) also accomplished the feat in addition to Veras (1995), Castillo (1999, 200 and 2002), Pierre (2003-2005) and Strange-Gordon (2015 and 2017).
The bulk of that came in June, when he was the Marlins’ primary third baseman with both Joey Wendle and Brian Anderson on the injured list. Berti started 26 games that month and stole 19 bases while only being caught once.
Berti on multiple occasions has credited first base coach Keith Johnson for his success on the basepaths this season.
“He does a great job with having video and different things prepared for us,” Berti said, “so I feel a lot more prepared that way and able to be a little more aggressive earlier in situations that maybe I wouldn’t have been able to in the past.”
And while Berti is happy with the results of his season, he admits he didn’t set his expectations this high heading into the year.
That’s understandable, considering his 2021 season ended with a concussion and his role was never that of an everyday starter since joining the Marlins in 2019.
But then the success came. In addition to the steals, Berti finished with a .240 batting average, .662 on-base-plus-slugging mark, 24 extra-base hits (17 doubles, three triples, four home runs) and 47 runs scored.