After an 0-3 performance during the May 2nd loss to the O’s, Russell Martin‘s batting line was a measly .150/.320/.267/.587. In the next two games, he went 5-8 with a double and a homer. From May 3rd on, he’s hitting .261/.369/.545. The walks, which were the only part of his game early on have stuck around, and some of his hits have started falling. His batting line now sits at .216/.348/.432, the latter two checking in higher than his season ending totals last year (.324/.408). Including yesterday’s game, Martin’s wOBA, .347, is also much higher than last year’s (.325) and his wRC+ is now 116 (110 last year). Considering how poorly he played early on in the year, this is a great accomplishment. Since the Oakland game on May 25, Martin has reached base in ten out of twelve games played with 12 hits (four doubles, four homers) and five walks.
One nice improvement has been the downtick in weak contact for Martin. In April, his infield fly ball rate was an unfathomable 20%. In May, he cut that down to 4.8% and he’s yet to hit an infield fly ball in June. Progress. His line drive rate ticked up a bit as the month turned, and he’s been stinging the ball in June with a 40% line drive rate and a 66% HR/FB rate. Obviously, those rates are unsustainable, but it’s nice to see the Russ Buss putting some force behind his once feeble drives.
Russell Martin is never going to be Jorge Posada with the bat. He’s not going to give the Yankees and extreme advantage over the average hitting catcher, but he’s certainly give them an advantage. As of Friday, he had a 103 OPS+ compared to other catchers. And while he’s not likely to hit for the power he’s been hitting for, he’s still very likely to work pitchers and take walks while playing good defense. So long as he keeps up a .340 OBP and keeps framing pitches well , the Yankees will be in good shape at the catcher’s spot.
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