For Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez, the path to being a prominent player in Detroit has been surprising, to say the least. Originally a 20th round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2009, Martinez began his big league career as an Astro in 2011. His first three years in the majors were spent with Houston, where he compiled a .251 average, with 24 homers and 126 RBI’s.
Just before the beginning of the 2014 season, Martinez was released by the Astros, who had finished the previous season with an atrocious 51-111 record. With an outfield already consisting of Robbie Grossman, Dexter Fowler, L.J. Hoes, and Marc Krauss (who has since been released by two other teams, including the Tigers), plus up-and-coming outfield prospect George Springer, the Astros didn’t see any reason to keep Martinez around.
Two days later, Martinez was signed to a minor league deal by the Tigers. With Andy Dirks just having had back surgery, it was initially thought of as a depth move to give the team more options until Dirks recovered from the operation. Martinez played 17 games in Toledo, where he batted .308 in 71 plate appearances, with 10 home runs and 22 RBI’s.
On April 21, 2014, former Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen was placed on the disabled list, and Martinez received the call up to the main roster. Let’s say it seems as though the team made the right call. He remained in Detroit for the rest of the season, batting .315 with 23 homers and 76 RBI’s. He was also named as the MLB Player of the Week late in June of 2014.
This year, having been with the big club for the entire season, we have seen plenty more of the same. Sure, his .289 average is a tad lower than what he had last year. But his 34 big flies and 87 RBI’s, which both lead the team by a wide margin, have made up for it.
Martinez was named as the Player of the Week for the week of July 5th this season, and was named to his first career All-Star team this season, as well.
His offensive production this season has been comparable to outfielders across the league who have been tagged as “super-stars”. Here is a comparison between JD and some of the more notable outfielders in baseball:
With 2015 being the last year in his current contract, Martinez is arbitration eligible at the end of this season. While it’s hard to say what number he will be looking for in the salary department, it’s safe to say that he will get a raise on from his current $3 million salary.
In an early career scouting report by the Astros, Martinez was described as a player who “might become a bench player in the big leagues who can pinch hit and chip in a little as a first baseman/left fielder.” With his 144 strikeouts so far this season, you could say Martinez strikes out a bit more than you would like. But, it appears that nobody struck out on J.D. Martinez more than the Houston Astros.
(Featured Image: Alyssa Blayney/DSN)