Monday, June 23, 2014

The case for Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez being the real deal

There has been a tendency for Tigers' fans to get ahead of themselves with players new to the team, who get off to fast starts.
The three classic examples are Chris Shelton in 2006, Brennan Boesch in 2010 and Quintin Berry in 2012.
Now J.D. Martinez, a former member of the Houston Astros, has arrived from Triple-A Toledo to give the Tigers a much-needed lift. The last week, he has an OPS of 1.438 with three home runs and a key run-producing double at Cleveland Sunday. He has an OPS above 1.000 the last four weeks. He is a right-handed hitter destroying right-handed pitching. Martinez has been solid defensively.
This from a castoff, whose signing drew little notice.
But Martinez compares favorably to the above-mentioned players from the Tigers' not-too-distant past and there is a chance he will have the staying power they lacked.
J.D. Martinez: Has bat, will rake
Martinez vs. Chris Shelton - Shelton's red hot start was very important for the Tigers in 2006. He helped turn around their program, but it was unsustainable for him. He didn't have a quick bat. He was marginal athlete, at best, for an MLB player, and didn't really have a position. Also, his bat wasn't live enough that Shelton could drive the ball without perfectly centering it. Martinez, on the other hand, is a good athlete. He is an adequate MLB corner outfielder and he has a very live bat. He has hit a couple home runs recently in which didn't center the ball perfectly. He won't be 27 until August. Shelton was the same age in '06.
Martinez vs. Boesch - Boesch possesses adequate speed. He tends to be wildly inconsistent defensively, and we'll see if Martinez can maintain his play defensively over the long haul. Boesch has power, but was a one-trick pony. Once pitchers stopped throwing him first-pitch fastballs for strikes, he struggled. Martinez does seem to be a more fluid athlete with a better approach as a hitter than Boesch, and has more raw power. Bosech was 25 during the 2010 season, his MLB debut. But he was older than Martinez when  he made his MLB debut just shy of his 24th birthday.
Martinez vs. Berry - Berry is a specialist. He is an outstanding base stealer. He decidedly lacks as a hitter with virtually no power. He is also a minus outfielder. Martinez doesn't have Berry's speed and isn't a center fielder by any measure, but is better at tracking a fly ball from the corner OF spots.. Berry was 27 when he made his MLB debut with the Tigers, and turned 28 just after the season. The Sabermetrics stat WAR is a cumulative number that swings up and down based on performance. Berry had a WAR of 0.4 in '12. Martinez is at 0.8 already.
It was be difficult to keep Martinez out of the lineup. The Tigers may have to make a decision when both Torii Hunter and Andy Dirks return. Hunter is having a poor season statistically.
Martinez is not making the decision easy for manager Brad Ausmus.

My column. Why it's no coincidence the Tigers are back in the driver's seat in the AL Central:

My column. Reports of soccer's "arrival" in USA being greatly exaggerated again:

My column. Finally much-needed joy for Detroit Tigers, Brad Ausmus:


Blogger spencersteel said...

Martinez is a better player than Torii Hunter at this point, but with a .364 BABIP and 7 walks, 31 strikeouts in just 113 AB, he's in for a whole lot of regression.

4:42 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Pat, good post, didn't know Shelton had a long swing, I thought the scouts got him. Martinez is never going to win a gold glove but he is better in the field then Thames or Young was. He seems to hit the fastball and doesn't chase too many sliders. Martinez did say is changed the way he hits by watching Miggy and therefore his pitch recognition is better and hits to right field should be more.

12:18 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home