Tag: Victor Martinez

Victor Martinez Becomes 280th Player with 1,000 Career RBI

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez recorded the 1,000th RBI of his career during Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals, and it made him the 280th player to reach the milestone, per Baseball-Reference.com.

After fouling out and flying out in his first two plate appearances of the contest, Martinez came to bat in the top of the sixth inning with two outs and runners on first and second.

With the count knotted up at 2-2, he smacked a line-drive single to left-center field, putting the ball just out of the reach of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.

The RBI single gave Detroit a 2-0 lead that would eventually stretch to 3-0 before the Royals rallied with a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Though he finished his night with just one hit in four at-bats, the 37-year-old Martinez has thus far bounced back strong from a poor 2015 campaign, as he owns a .263 batting average, .349 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage through 13 games.

Furthermore, he’s just the fifth Venezuelan-born player to record 1,000 career RBI. He joins Andres Galarraga, Bobby Abreu, Magglio Ordonez and, of course, teammate Miguel Cabrera, per ESPN Stats & Info.

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Cold Hard Fact for Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fact: Victor Martinez is the fifth Venezuelan-born player in MLB history with 1,000 RBI. He joins Miguel Cabrera, Andres Galarraga, Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

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Victor Martinez Injury: Updates on Tigers Star’s Knee and Return

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with inflammation in his left knee.  

Continue for updates.

Martinez Heads to DL with Knee Inflammation

Tuesday, May 19

The Tigers’ official PR Twitter feed reported that Martinez was placed on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his left knee.

Currently there is no timeline for Martinez to return, per James Schmehl of MLive.com. Manager Brad Ausmus further discussed the injury, per Jason Beck of MLB.com:”Victor Martinez had a cortisone shot Thursday. Felt good running Monday, but hitting obviously wasn’t any better.”

Ausmus added that Martinez did not want to go on the DL, and the decision wasn’t up to him, per Matthew B. Mowery

Martinez is one of the best pure hitters in baseball, and the Tigers can ill afford to lose him for an extended period of time. He hit .335 during the 2014 season with 32 home runs, 103 RBI and a .409 on-base percentage.

Martinez finished second in the American League MVP voting and won the Silver Slugger award for American League designated hitters.

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post noted why a slugger like Martinez is even more valuable in today’s game with dominant pitching:

But there’s a more wide-angle reason the Tigers are making that commitment to a player headed into his late 30s who just set career highs in homers, on-base percentage and slugging percentage (by more than 50 points). Look at offense throughout baseball, at how it’s dwindling away, and consider where a player of Martinez’s abilities and accomplishments fits now. Heck, consider where he might fit four years from now, even if his abilities diminish some with age.

Martinez is a source of production in the middle of the lineup that is nearly impossible to replace, from his ability to get on base to the power and the run-scoring opportunities he generates. What’s more, he provides protection for Miguel Cabrera by hitting behind him in the lineup, which forces opposing pitchers to pick their poison.

Detroit has title aspirations this season, but the one-two punch of Cabrera and Martinez is a major reason why. If Martinez is not in the lineup, players such as Yoenis Cespedes or J.D. Martinez will have to increase their production to provide that protection for Cabrera and cash in on RBI opportunities that would have otherwise gone to the 36-year-old.

Detroit’s strong pitching staff will be under more pressure as well if the offense struggles without Martinez as an anchor.

Martinez is one of the most important players on the Tigers roster, and any championship hopes they have may depend on his ability to return to full health.

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Detroit Tigers: Top 5 Takeaways from Spring Training

The Detroit Tigers have now completed more than half of their 2015 spring training schedule. It has been a largely unsuccessful March for Detroit if you only consider its record (7-14). However, wins and losses mean precious little during this stage of the year.

What matters most is players getting in their reps and optimizing their preparation for a minimum six-month-long season.

With the exception of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, most of Detroit’s regular players have spent ample time on the diamond. The aforementioned sluggers began their seasons on March 22 after injuries kept them sidelined for most of spring training. Their return is a crucial development for the club.

Spring has also provided an opportunity for youngsters to make an impression and audition for a roster spot. James McCann, Anthony Gose and Hernan Perez have seemingly booked their tickets to Motown based on their performances to date.

Others, such as Daniel Fields and Jose Valdez, have laid down markers through their strong performances. In contrast, some prospects (e.g., Steven Moya) have failed to impress in the early going.

The ensuing top five spring takeaways are ranked according to their importance to the team as it looks ahead to Opening Day on April 6.

Begin Slideshow

Tigers Need One of Their Young Bats to Step Up as Uncertainty Lingers

Uncertainty surrounds the Detroit Tigers

It has since the end of their virtually nonexistent postseason run last October when they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles, and it became more prevalent as the offseason saw their offensive stars, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, go under the knife. And just because spring training is off and running, the question marks will not subside.

However, while the murkiness might start with the health and performance of veterans, including pitchers David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander, it does not end there. It ends with, and could be cleared up by, some of the team’s youth performing throughout the lineup.

While J.D. Martinez provided that boost last season, this year the Tigers are looking to players like Jose Iglesias, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Gose and possibly Steven Moya. Even Yoenis Cespedes could be a surprise contributor if he becomes more than just a bopper.

Whoever it might be, the Tigers need at least one of them to prove he is a major league offensive force to alleviate any potential health or production concerns that seem inevitable for this club, not to mention the loss of pitcher Max Scherzer in free agency and Rick Porcello as part of the trade that landed Cespedes from the Boston Red Sox.

Aside from Martinez, this spring has given Gose an early stage to shine. And while we are only about a week into games, what he has done is still impressive.

In 14 Grapefruit League at-bats, Gose has eight hits, a double, a triple, two walks and is 3-for-3 stealing bases. He has also created havoc on the bases with his speed, drawing errant pickoff throws and forcing errors while running the bases when the ball is in play.

While this is promising for a player who is expected to be a platooning center fielder when the season starts, Gose, 24, understands about not getting too high on spring training results or seeing himself as the full-time guy out there.

“It’s spring training,” Gose told The Detroit NewsChris McCosky. “It’s been four days. If I’m doing this at the All-Star break, then come talk to me.”

Gose is a long way from that point, especially when you consider he has had a full season’s worth of plate appearances in the big leagues—616 spread over three years—and produced a .234/.301/.332 line. All of those appearances came while with the Toronto Blue Jays before the Tigers traded for him in November.

The other man the Tigers are counting on this season, and to fill a much more prominent and permanent role, is 25-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias. As a 23-year-old second-year player with the Red Sox and Tigers in 2013, Iglesias showed a ton of promise by hitting .303/.349/.386 over 382 plate appearances, most of them with Boston when he hit .330/.376/.409 in 63 games.

He was traded at the deadline of that season in the three-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. But since that half-season with the Tigers, Iglesias has not played a single inning. He missed all of last season with stress fractures in both shins, and, of course, the Tigers felt his pain as their shortstops hit a league-worst .223 and played poor defense.

Hope for Iglesias is once again prevalent this spring as he is healthy—he had a minor scare last week when he was hit by a batting-practice line drive in, of all places, his shin—and expects to be productive.

“He doesn’t look like he’s missed a year of baseball,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown last week. “I really don’t think missing a year is going to be an issue.”

If it is not, and Iglesias can return to being a .300 hitter and the kind of threat who gets on base nearly 38 percent of the time, he will go a long way in easing any time Cabrera or Martinez might miss.

While Moya, 23, probably will head to the minors for some more seasoning, another 23-year-old, Castellanos, is around to stay as long as he is reasonably productive. Last year, in his first full season in the majors, he was about that with a 93 OPS-plus, although he was worth a minus-1.5 WAR (Baseball-Reference) because of shoddy defense.

The Tigers need more from him this year. While ZiPS projects him to again be awful defensively—minus-12 runs saved—it also believes he can reach 17 home runs, 77 RBIs, with a .335 weighted OBA and a 108 OPS-plus. If he can give them at least that kind of production and outdo his low defensive projections, he will become a solid contributor in a lineup that needs every piece of certainty it can get going forward.

For all their injury concerns, potential declines and regression, and future uncertainty—Price, the ace, can be a free agent after this season—the Tigers remain the favorites in the American League Central for 2015. That would give them a fifth consecutive division title, but the gap between them and the rest is closing.

The Chicago White Sox improved. The Cleveland Indians might have the best rotation in baseball. The Kansas City Royals will be defending their pennant after missing a World Series title by one mighty whack of the bat. Even the Minnesota Twins should be slightly better than they were last season, if nothing else.

That kind of competition means the Tigers will no longer roll through the Central, and it will require one of the aforementioned young players to become a significant contributor this summer. They might not need to do the heavy lifting, but they will have to at least carry their own weight.

If the Tigers get that production from one or more of them, a fifth straight postseason ticket will undoubtedly be punched.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Previewing the Hottest Questions of 2015 Spring Training, 2 Weeks out

Spring training is just around the corner, with pitchers and catchers set to report to camp sometime between Feb. 19 and 23, depending on the team, and position players arriving the following week.

But even though the start of the season draws closer every day, there are still several unanswered questions that, once answered, are sure to have a major impact on the 2015 season.


Who will sign Yoan Moncada?

The sweepstakes for Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada intensified this week after the 19-year-old was cleared to negotiate and sign with any big league club.

When he signs, Moncada is expected to receive roughly $40 million, a would-be record under the international bonus pool system. His new team will face a 100 percent tax on the pool overage, so basically an additional $40 million.

Earlier this week, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com highlighted the five teams he believes have the best chances of signing Moncada: the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers. Of those teams, Sanchez views the Yankees as the favorites to land the Cuban prospect:

The Yanks have a long history in the international market and were the first team to blow past their international bonus pools by signing several top prospects on July 2. That number is now close to 30, but none would be bigger than Moncada. The Yankees were among the first teams to watch him in a private workout, and they have been considered the favorites for several months.

Meanwhile, Buster Olney of ESPN thinks it makes sense for the Dodgers to pursue Moncada, citing the team’s deep pockets as well as its current lack of a long-term second baseman. However, it might not be worth Moncada‘s final cost plus the international signing restrictions the team will face in the following two years, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.

Whether it’s the Yankees, Dodgers or another team that ultimately invests in Moncada’s future, it’s clear that there are plenty of teams that believe he’s worth it.


How will the Tigers replace Victor Martinez?

On Thursday, we learned Victor Martinez has a torn medial meniscus in his left knee and that he’s set to undergo surgery Tuesday.

Martinez finished second to Mike Trout for the American League MVP Award in 2014 after batting .335 with 32 home runs. The Tigers re-signed the 36-year-old designated hitter to a four-year, $68 million contract back in November.

He suffered the injury during a recent workout, and it’s his second major offseason knee injury in the last four years.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Tigers, as there was already concern about whether Miguel Cabrera would be fully healthy for spring training due to a stress fracture in his left foot.

ESPN.com’s Christina Kahrl notes the Tigers offense could be in serious trouble if V-Mart misses significant time:

Baseball Prospectus projects Detroit to score more than 20 fewer runs than last year’s 757, while analyst Clay Davenport pegged them even more harshly, losing more than 50 runs—five wins in the standings if you work with that simple 10 runs equals a win formula. And that was before V-Mart got hurt.

The Tigers won’t have an exact timetable for Martinez’s return until he has surgery next week. The severity of the injury is likely to determine the length of his recovery, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com:

A clean-out typically requires four to six weeks of recovery. Because Martinez has had previous surgeries, including a repair of his meniscus in 2012 after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, he could be more cautious, missing six to eight weeks. A reattachment, Dr. Khabie said, requires up to six months of recovery.

The early speculation is the Tigers will look for answers within their system, according to Beck. Minor leaguers Jordan Lennerton and Aaron Westlake appear to be the best options, and both players are now expected to receive extended playing time during spring training.


Who will sign James Shields?

Free agent James Shields has multiple offers on the table and is expected to sign before the end of the weekend, tweets Jon Morosi of Fox Sports (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). Beyond that, it’s mostly speculation concerning which teams are legitimately in play for the right-hander.

Jim Bowden of ESPN recently noted that Shields is highly unlikely to receive the five-year, $100 million contract he sought heading into the offseason, and certainly not a fifth year:

As a former general manager, I can tell you that when a player gets to the first week of February unsigned, there’s usually a good reason. If something were going to happen, it would have by then. Now Shields is looking at a four-year deal in the $70-$80 million range as the best possible result, and the price tag could be even lower than that. 

On Thursday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported the San Diego Padres might be the front-runner to land Shields, “Who makes his home in the San Diego area and is himself said to prefer to play on the West Coast after spending the first part of his career in Tampa Bay and Kansas City.”

ESPN’s Buster Olney has also heard increased buzz about the possibility of Shields landing in San Diego:

That the Toronto Blue Jays are said to have some interest in the 33-year-old Shields is surprising to Heyman:

One of those teams is said to be the Blue Jays, who are said to be ‘kicking the tires’ on Shields in something of a surprise since their obvious financial restrictions have inhibited them from going hard after a closer, which would seem to be a need. The Blue Jays made their signing of star catcher Russell Martin for $82 million possible by backloading the contract.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are also “kicking the tires” on Shields, according to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com, and the team could become even more interested should his price tag continue to fall.

Stay tuned, as it might not be long until we learn where Big Game James will pitch in 2015.

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Victor Martinez’s Knee Injury Could Ruin Tigers’ 2015 Season Before It Starts

The 2015 Detroit Tigers didn’t come into this week short on things worth worrying about, but at least they had Victor Martinez. The 2014 American League MVP runner-up was just fine, thank you.

But the key word there is “was.” And for the Tigers, that has the potential to be devastating.

As the Tigers announced on Thursday, Martinez has a left knee injury that’s going to require him to go under the knife:

Not mentioned is how long Martinez’s recovery is going to take, but these tweets from Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports cast doubt on the possibility of him being ready for Opening Day:

In other words: No, this is not a minor thing. If the odds of the switch-hitting 36-year-old repeating his league-leading .974 OPS and career-high 32 home runs from last season weren’t already long enough, Martinez now has to worry about making a full recovery and getting on track without the benefit of spring training.

The Tigers can hope for the best, but they need to plan for the worst. And in this case, the worst could be pretty bad.

Earlier this week, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said, via MLB.com, that his roster for 2015 is “basically set.” Since that pretty much goes for the league’s other 29 rosters, now’s a safe time to look at what each team has and project how they could perform in 2015.

And for that, we have actual projections.

The good news is that Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs have the Tigers pegged as the top team in the AL Central. The bad news is that it’s not by much. Both systems barely place them ahead of the Cleveland Indians and not that far ahead of the other teams in the division. And overall, Detroit’s projected record is the worst among baseball’s projected division champs.

This sounds silly based on the Tigers’ recent history as the dominant team in the AL Central, but anyone with objectivity will know the projections have a gripe. As we said at the outset, the Tigers came into the week with plenty of things worth worrying about.

Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello are gone and have been replaced by Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene. Justin Verlander is coming off a year that screamed “Decline!” Miguel Cabrera appears to be damaged goods. J.D Martinez is a huge regression candidate. And as per usual, the Tigers bullpen stinks.

In the middle of all this were two pieces that looked solid. One was David Price, and the other was Martinez. And even with the latter unlikely to repeat his other-worldly 2014, both BP’s and FanGraphs‘ projections were taking it for granted that he would be one of Detroit’s more productive hitters in 2015.

And in fairness, there is a chance he will be. Maybe he can make a quick and strong recovery, step into the box on Opening Day and go from there.

We have good reasons, however, not to take that possibility for granted.

For starters, there’s the reality that Martinez is a 36-year-old former catcher. It’s not advised to expect quick and strong recoveries from players like that. Throw in how Martinez missed the entire 2012 season with a left knee injury, and a quick and strong recovery seems all the more unlikely.

This is not to say he can’t be ready by Opening Day or shortly thereafter, mind you. Really, the bigger question is the one that Jon Morosi posed:

To this end, there isn’t a whole lot of precedent we can turn to. But one particularly scary example is Joey Votto.

In 2012, Votto was on an absolutely roll with a .342 average and a .604 slugging percentage through 86 games. But then he went in for medial meniscus surgery on his own left knee, and he returned to hit just .316 with a .421 slugging percentage. That’s a huge loss of power, one that Votto hasn’t yet fully recovered from.

There’s one example of a hitter brought low by the kind of injury Martinez is dealing with, and he himself doesn’t have the most encouraging history with recovering from serious knee injuries.

When Martinez came back from his year off in 2013, he never really got his power going. As FanGraphs can show, even as he increased his batting average by over 100 points from the first half to the second half, his Isolated Slugging (slugging percentage minus singles) only improved by 17 points.

As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince put it, Martinez’s power was compromised because he was still working to “get his legs back into playing shape.” And throughout the year, it’s not surprising that his power was slightly worse from the left side of the plate. When batting lefty, his surgically repaired left leg wasn’t exactly a sturdy foundation from which to draw power.

Granted, Martinez’s latest knee injury isn’t as serious as the torn ACL that robbed him of his 2012 season. But there could very well end up being a sizable gap between the time when Martinez is healthy and the time when he’s in real playing shape. Those two are different things, after all.

If the price for that is a notable loss of power, a guy who was the Tigers’ most dangerous hitter in 2014 is going to be rendered ordinary for a solid chunk of 2015. In light of the lack of talent separation between them and the rest of the AL Central, that could be a deal-breaker for their entire season.

What could brighten the mood would be Dombrowski pulling a rabbit out of his hat like when he responded to Martinez’s 2012 injury by signing Prince Fielder. That ended up having the desired effect, as Fielder easily replaced Martinez’s production.

But don’t count on this happening. There are no hitters even close to Fielder’s caliber on the free-agent market, and the Tigers are short on the payroll flexibility and the expendable assets they would need to acquire a star-level hitter in a trade.

So what the Tigers should be doing right now is wishing, hoping and/or praying that Martinez can shrug this injury off and immediately start hitting like it never happened.

Because right now, it looks like a season that hasn’t even begun yet has been dealt a killing blow.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Victor Martinez Injury: Updates on Tigers Star’s Knee Surgery and Recovery

Tigers slugger Victor Martinez will undergo surgery for a torn meniscus, which could see the star hitter miss the start of the regular season. 

Continue for updates.

Martinez Out at Least 4-6 Weeks

Friday, Feb. 6

Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press talked to the surgeon performing surgery on Victor Martinez, who said that the slugger would miss a minimum of four to six weeks but could miss up to 16 weeks depending on the extent of the damage.  


Martinez to Undergo Surgery on Meniscus 

Thursday, Feb. 5 

Detroit Tigers star Victor Martinez’s status for spring training and the regular season is uncertain, as the slugger will have to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

According to a statement the Tigers released on Twitter, Martinez will have surgery February 10 after injuring the knee during an offseason workout:

This is the second time in three years that Martinez has suffered an injury to his left knee in the offseason. In January 2012, he tore his ACL and missed the entire season. 

Martinez, who finished second in American League MVP voting last year, is coming off the best season of his career. He set career highs in home runs (32), average (.335), on-base percentage (.409) and slugging percentage (.565). 

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski talked about Martinez’s injury and what the club plans to do to replace him, according to Gabe Lacques of USA Today:

The Tigers rewarded Martinez’s efforts with a four-year contract extension worth $68 million in November. If Martinez can’t go on Opening Day, the Tigers lack a ready-made replacement for him at designated hitter. While first baseman Miguel Cabrera is a logical choice, the team was already thin on bench power. Either way, the Tigers would be adding a light-hitting bat to the lineup.

Given what he did last year, not to mention how Max Scherzer’s departure has weakened Detroit’s pitching staff, losing an All-Star hitter would put a huge dent in the team’s hopes of making the playoffs in 2015—even if Martinez isn’t able to replicate last year’s form.  

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Detroit Tigers: Don’t Discount the Tigers Making a Big Offseason Move

With their most important bit of offseason business (re-signing Victor Martinez) wrapped up, the Detroit Tigers can now turn their attention to other needs. These needs used to include adding an outfielder, but Anthony Gose’s acquisition seems to have satisfied that. Re-signing the rehabbing Joel Hanrahan will help strengthen the bullpen, which was and still is another need, if the former Pittsburgh closer is healthy. Still, more bullpen additions can be expected.

If the team does sign free agents to fill the need, or goes after trade targets to achieve the same purpose, it wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. But history tells us that the Tigers general manager makes transactions that shock just about anyone—generally making deals to acquire premium players at positions where an upgrade isn’t necessary. Past examples include signing Ivan Rodriguez and dealing for Miguel Cabrera and David Price.

After re-signing Victor Martinez and handing out arbitration raises to standout performers like Price and J.D. Martinez, the Tigers will have little wiggle room financially. This shouldn’t dissuade any thoughts of Detroit making a big move.

In December of 2009, Dombrowski sent Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson packing in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks to avoid giving them hefty raises and to alleviate pressure on the salary cap. The deal allowed the Tigers the room to sign lockdown closer Jose Valverde. The trade also brought Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer to Motown. The moral of the story is that Dave Dombrowski knows how to make impact moves on a tight budget.

Detroit’s general manager is already helped by the fact that the collective salaries of Torii Hunter, Don Kelly, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain have come off the books, thus giving him some wiggle room. While a percentage of that money was likely allocated to Victor Martinez and saved for arbitration rises, it still creates cash.

Dombrowski knows how to make his team younger, with the Granderson/Scherzer deal serving as a chief example. He has already acquired a young, controllable player with considerable upside in Gose and may not be done dealing.

Already, rumors are swirling about potential Tigers moves. The latest involves listening to trade offers for catcher Alex Avila. Dealing Avila would seem unconventional for a couple of reasons, one being the fact that Avila works well with Detroit’s starting pitchers. A second is that defensively the catcher grades out positively, while bringing power to the lineup as a left-handed hitter. Thirdly, the next catchers in line for the Tigers are backup Bryan Holaday and prospect James McCann.

Dealing Avila would mean that Detroit either has another deal lined up/in the works for a cheaper catcher they feel is an upgrade or that they feel McCann is ready to take the next step and start full-time.

Despite all the potential negatives, sending Avila to another team comes with benefits. The first would be wiping his salary from the books—Avila will make $5.4 million next season. The second would mean that the team could move on from a player who has been seriously affected by injuries.

Avila is still a starting catcher in the major leagues and certainly brings positive attributes to the table, but he isn’t what he once was. His finest hour came in 2011, when he posted an .895 OPS and drove in 82 runs. Injures soon ran rampant on Avila’s offensive production. Starting with the 2011 postseason, where he hit .063 against New York in and .080 against Texas.  The catcher has hit a combined .235 since 2011.

With surprise moves becoming the norm this offseason, (thanks to the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller trade and the Mets signing of Michael Cuddyer), it wouldn’t be a shock to see the baseball landscape rocked by an unlikely Dombrowski trade. He’s turned potential salary cap burdens into, among others, a Cy Young winner (Max Scherzer) and a player used to acquire yet another player with a Cy Young on his resume (David Price).

It’s unknown if Alex Avila’s name will appear in the transactions logs due to a trade, but it wouldn’t be surprising. Neither would be a conceivable, cost-cutting trade of a player like Rajai Davis. The bottom line is that Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers front office know what they are doing, and with the offseason in full swing (pun!), the ball is in their court.


All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted. 

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Victor Martinez Quietly Having Amazing Season in Revamped Tigers Lineup

When baseball fans think of the Detroit Tigers, names like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera are quickly associated with one of baseball’s best teams. For some reason, designated hitter Victor Martinez is lost in the shuffle and allowed to quietly go about his business.

Over a 12-year career, Martinez has been in the business of hitting—and business has been good. Prior to the start of the 2014 season, the former Indians and Red Sox catcher owned 157 home runs and an OPS+ mark of 121. 

Thus far in 2014, the 35-year-old switch-hitter has taken his game to another level. In the process, Martinez has helped Detroit offset the trade of first baseman Prince Fielder. Through 40 games, the Tigers have scored 193 runs, good for an average of over 4.8 per game. Last year, the team scored 796 total runs, good for just over 4.9 per game.

Thanks to the efforts of Martinez, Detroit hasn’t missed a beat despite trading away one of baseball’s top sluggers in Prince Fielder.

After blasting his 11th home run of the season in a series-opening game with Cleveland, Martinez takes a .329/.379/.605 slash line into play on May 20. While an AL-leading slugging percentage should be enough to generate headlines in Detroit, another aspect of Martinez’s season is equally eye-opening and deserving of attention: strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Home runs and runs batted in will get the attention of casual baseball fans, but Martinez’s approach at the plate and throwback style should resonate across generations. After he hit his latest home run off Indians starter Corey Kluber, Martinez now has more home runs (11) than strikeouts (nine) for the season.  

Furthermore, Martinez has walked 14 times in 152 plate appearances, giving him five more walks than strikeouts for the season. Although the season is still young, it’s reached the quarter mark. With that comes merit and distinction for statistics.

According to ESPN’s updated projections, Martinez has established a pace that will yield the following 2014 statistics: 45 home runs, 57 walks, 36 strikeouts. Even if those kind of numbers look unsustainable, the baseline for special performance has been set by Detroit’s star early this season.

In the history of baseball, only seven individual seasons of 40-plus homers and 40 or fewer strikeouts have been recorded. With the rise in strikeouts across the years, not one of those seasons has occurred since 1955.  

Over the last 20 years (1994-2013), only two players—Barry Bonds and Moises Alou—posted seasons of 30-plus home runs and 45 or fewer strikeouts, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required). Barring an unlikely meteoric late-career rise, Martinez will never be mentioned in the same breath as Bonds, but parallels to the underrated Alou (career 128 OPS+) are fair.

To put Martinez’s season in perspective, consider that his current wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) of 160 was exceeded by only three hitters—Cabrera, Mike Trout and Chris Davis—over the course of the 2013 season. Martinez is raking like the top three finishers in the last AL MVP vote. 

Although an excellent career and special 2014 season has flown under the radar, one of baseball’s best and most visible players has noticed.

Cabrera, the AL’s reigning MVP, didn’t mince words when asked to describe the prowess of the hitter tasked with protecting him in the lineup, per Terry Foster of The Detroit News: “He is one of the best hitters I have ever seen in my life…He does not take anything for granted.”

Based on the first 40 games of this season and an underrated career since 2002, it’s hard to argue with Cabrera. Right now, Martinez is performing at a unique and special level. 

Martinez certainly has the talent to perform at a high level for an extended period. After all, he did just hit .330 in 540 at-bats in 2011. His ability to switch-hit will provide excellent protection for Cabrera, as teams cannot pitch around him with V-Mart crushing lefties this season.

If it continues, the Tigers will ride the coattails of a once-in-a-generation season all the way to October baseball and a shot at the World Series.


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Statistics are from Baseball-Reference.comESPN and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Roster breakdowns via MLBDepthCharts.com.

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