Troy native Jon Berti leads MLB in stolen bases

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published July 27, 2022

 The Miami Marlins’ Jon Berti leads Major League Baseball in steals and had 28 stolen bases entering the All-Star Break last week.

The Miami Marlins’ Jon Berti leads Major League Baseball in steals and had 28 stolen bases entering the All-Star Break last week.

Photo provided by Pam Tassoni


TROY — Father Time has a difficult task when catching up with Miami Marlins third baseman Jon Berti, as Berti has shown time and time again this year.

Leading all of Major League Baseball third basemen in sprint speed with 29.9 feet per second last season, Berti, 32, decided that he’d take control of a different category this year.

While on pace for career highs in every offensive category, Berti led MLB in stolen bases with 28 in just 58 games as baseball reached the All-Star break last week. The Baltimore Orioles’ Jorge Mateo was second at the break with 22. The season resumed July 21.

“It’s definitely really cool to be leading the major leagues in any category, but I just try to take it one game at a time,” Berti said.

Berti’s base running was a viral sensation last year when he stole second, third and home against the New York Mets on Aug. 25, 2021, to become the first Marlins player to ever steal three bases in one inning.

Jomboy Media, a media company with over 1.62 million subscribers on YouTube, did a breakdown on Berti’s base stealing trifecta that has earned more than 1.8 million views. Berti has seen the video.

“I actually did; it was pretty awesome,” Berti said when asked about it. “In the moment, it was, ‘Don’t fall flat on your face.’”

In 197 games over the last three years, Berti stole 34 bags, with his highest total being 17 in 2019.

Berti, who played baseball at Troy High School, has asserted himself as an everyday player for the Marlins, hitting .271 with a .365 on-base percentage this season.

“For me, it’s just about hunting pitches in the area you want and being aggressive to get those pitches, and laying off the stuff that’s not in there,” Berti said. “It’s about being disciplined in your area.”

Berti signed a $1.2 million contract with the Marlins in March to avoid arbitration and has been a key factor in the lineup as the Marlins sit 5 1/2 games back of a wild card spot in the National League.

Aside from his elite-level base running, Berti’s defensive versatility has served as a calling card for him throughout his career.

“I just tell myself I’ve had success at this position before,” Berti said. “Obviously, the longer you play, the more comfortable you get at every position.”

The Marlins have penciled him in at second base, third base, shortstop, left field and center field this season, with Berti playing the most games at second (23) and third (25).

Berti was a dual-sport athlete at Troy High School, playing both hockey and baseball up to his senior year.

“From March until August, it was baseball, and from September till March, it was hockey,” Berti said. “Baseball was always my first love.”

Tom Berti, Jon’s father, said Jon’s hockey career played a huge factor in his son’s baseball career.

“I really think being a goalie and all that hockey practice really gave him the strength in his lower body to play in the infield and lead the MLB in stolen bases at this time,” Tom Berti said.

Berti chose to focus primarily on baseball his senior year, and it paid off as he earned all-state Dream Team honors and was runner-up for Mr. Baseball in 2008, hitting .467 his senior year.

Berti set single-season school records in hits (66), runs scored (66), stolen bases (40-of-42) and triples (8) during his senior year.

Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 36th round of the 2008 MLB Draft, Berti chose to enroll at Bowling Green University.

Berti led Bowling Green to a Mid-American Conference regular season title in his first year, when he hit .368, which was the highest average for a Bowling Green freshman since 1976.

His sophomore year showcased his full potential, as Berti set school records in average (.423) and hits (93) in 2010.

Berti decided to forgo his senior year after hitting .356 as a junior, and he was selected in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It was definitely a day I won’t forget,” Berti said.

Berti would spend seven years in the minors and was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game in 2014 during his time with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Berti stole 40 bags in 136 games in 2014.

Tom Berti played Single-A minor league baseball in the Detroit Tigers organization at Lakeland, Florida, from 1978 to 1979. He said he had one message that he repeated to his son continuously.

“The first thing I learned was there’s a lot, a lot, a lot of games,” Tom Berti said. “There’s 162 games, and you pretty much play every day; you have to have a short memory.

“You can’t carry anything over; you have to be in the moment, in the present, and continue on.”

Jon Berti bounced between New Hampshire and the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons before the Blue Jays called his number on Sept. 26, 2018, as he was immediately placed into the starting lineup.

Electing free agency after the 2018 season, Berti signed with the Marlins on a minor league contract in December of 2018.

Berti opened the 2019 season on the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes but was promptly called up after hitting .290 with a .930 on-base plus slugging.

Berti finished his 2019 campaign hitting .273 with 17 stolen bases in 73 games and has been a consistent contributor for the Marlins since. His first career home run came on May 6, 2019, at Wrigley Field against Chicago Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels.

Berti didn’t have to wait long to get his milestone ball back.

“That’s the beauty of Wrigley Field; they threw the ball right back onto the field,” Berti said.

Berti will look to become the second Marlins player to lead the MLB in stolen bases since infielder Dee Gordon swiped 60 bags in 2017.