The Detroit Tigers could be a pennant contender this year in the American League if it wasn’t for two glaring problems. The bullpen and Victor Martinez.
But a glaring issue remains. The middle of the line-up is filled with aging veterans, one of which can’t run the base-paths anymore. By all accounts Victor Martinez is off to a decent start. However hidden in the stats is his station to station base-running that makes it nearly impossible for the faster players behind him to grab the extra base.
Line-drives in the corner or in the gap are nothing more than long singles when V-Mart limps out of the batters box. He jumped out to a solid start in 2017 but his OPS quickly dropped to a mere .719! That is more than one-hundred points below his career mark. (.831) It is very safe to say the Victor Martinez is on the downside of his career.
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Clogging the Base-paths
Despite his obvious decline, Detroit Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus almost refuses to drop V-Mart down in the line-up. Even with the paltry power numbers and a sluggish slugging percentage (.377). Make no mistake, Martinez is still respected by opposing pitchers but his influence is waning the longer he stays in the clean-up spot.
The Other Martinez
With J.D. Martinez on a tear hitting 4 home runs in just 12 at-bats after his season debut this week, it is almost unforgivable for Ausmus to hit him in the sixth spot. Especially considering V-Mart’s continued struggles. The Tigers would be best served with J.D.’s power bat in the middle of the line-up. V-Mart would be far more effective in the sixth hole where his lack dwindling power and speed won’t be as exposed.
Old School Respect
In today’s baseball world of advanced stats and analytics, Brad Ausmus is extending Victor Martinez old school respect. There is no doubt the V-Mart is a leader in the locker room. An unhappy Martinez would be bad for the team. In his fourth year as Tigers manager, Ausmus still doesn’t have the clout necessary to demote an established veteran player, even if it is the best move for the team. Fans must wait for Victor Martinez to voluntarily bat further down in the order before this problem is resolved.