There were a few things about Russell Martin that were unsurprising last year. He turned in a solid walk rate of 10.5%, which was obviously good, but just short of his career rate of 11.5%. Martin also provided solid defense behind the plate. Those are two things we’ve definitely come to expect from Russell in his career. There was one thing that caught us by surprise, and that was his power. Martin turned in 18 homers, just one short of his career high of 19 (2007), and a .170 Iso also second to his 2007 mark (.176).
As the season went on, though, we saw Martin’s power drop (predictably). He went from .293 in March/April to .147 in May, to .056 in June, to .050 in July. It shot way back up to .325 in August, but then fell to .107 in September/October. All told, Martin had just as many atrocious power months as he did great ones. Was Martin’s power an illusion? Well, no. He’s shown the ability to hit for some pop before, so perhaps it was just a reemergence of a skill he displayed earlier in his career. But, is it something that we can reasonably rely on going forward? Probably not.
The projections that are out right now–ZiPs, Bill James, and the FanGraphs fan projections–peg Martin for the following Iso marks: ZiPS: .133; Bill James: .144; Fans: .139 (full disclosure, I turned in one of those fan projections last week). Those numbers sound about right. Aside from Iso, we should also pay attention to the HR/FB% Martin ends up with. Last year (15.9), he beat his career high rate by 3.7% (12.7) and his career rate (10%) by 5.9%. Was this brought on by playing his home games in the Bronx instead of spacious Chavez Ravine? Not really. Martin hit 8 homers at home, but 10 on the road and had a near equal HR/FB rate in home (15.4%) and away (16.4%) games.
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