What Went Right: Russell Martin’s final 62 games

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Torii Hunter
Report: Yankees have interest in David Ross
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

As we discussed earlier, Russell Martin‘s first 100 games of the season were a nightmare offensively. He hit .182/.300/.364 in his first 283 plate appearances and the Yankees were sliding in the standings. The trade deadline brought no catching help, so any improvement down the stretch was going to have to come from Martin himself. It was easy to have no confidence in him.

Instead of continued to falter, Russ turned things around. He went 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks in Game 101 and 8-for-22 (.364) with four walks in the next seven games. He doubled in his next game, homered a week after that, and homered again a few days later. On September 5th, the team’s 136th game of the season, Martin went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer to raise his season battling line to .202/.305/.376. It was very late in the season, but he was above the Mendoza Line for good.

Along with deadline pickup Ichiro Suzuki, Martin was arguably the Yankees’ very best hitter in the final month of the season. He hit .277/.355/.578 with seven homers in the club’s final 28 games of the year, including .375/.500/1.000 (!) with runners in scoring position. Russ hit walk-off homer against the Athletics (video) on September 21st, and three of those seven homers either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead. Martin didn’t hit a lick in the postseason like most of his teammates, but he did hit the game-winning homer off Jim Johnson in Game One of the ALDS. That was enormous.

Despite all those late-season homers, the 62-game hot streak to close the season was fueled by a BABIP return to normalcy…

As I wrote this morning, you would expect Martin to have a low-ish BABIP because of the type of hitter he is, but anything below .200 is venturing into massively unlikely territory for any player. He enjoyed a .271 BABIP in the final 62 games of the season, which is right around his true talent level based on recent years. That raised his season line up to  .211/.311/.403, a 95 wRC+ that was a bit below the league average overall but actually identical to the MLB average for the position. Catchers get a little slack.

If there’s one thing we learned about Martin offensively these last two years, it’s that he can be very streaky. The downs are longer and more frequent than the ups, but the ups are power-filled stretches with a lot of clutch hits. Martin always seems to put quality at-bats together as well, even when he’s struggling, and he never seems to take his problems with the bat out to the field defensively. He’s no Jorge Posada, especially at the plate, but Russ has been serviceable if not solid for the Yankees at the catcher position these last two years and especially down the stretch in 2012.

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Torii Hunter
Report: Yankees have interest in David Ross
  • HyShai

    “He’s no Jorge Posada, especially at the plate…”

    Isn’t he better than Jorge at every other aspect other than at the plate?

    • Knoxvillain

      I think he is probably referring to Posada’s leadership and other things like that.

      • hyshai

        Yeah, but then probably should be “He’s noT Jorge Posada…”

    • Murderers’ Row Boat

      Jorge Posada would routinely hit homeruns into the bleachers that cured the aliments of those people the ball it. Martin can’t do that.

  • Jersey Joe


  • Eddard

    He’s no Jorge Posada, indeed. Jorgie is going to have his number retired and have a statue out there in monument park someday, along with the rest of the Core 4. Martin will be lucky to be here another year. They should not give him a raise and I don’t think you can just cherry pick games and say that he’s a great hitter that should be re-signed to a multi-year deal. He hit .200 for the year which was awful. Look to the Giants for the example of how important a hitting catcher is, just ask Jorge.

    • Murderers’ Row Boat

      Nunez for Catcher!

    • Get Phelps Up

      The Giants catcher didn’t really hit in the playoffs – which is seemingly all you care about.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…(I believe that children are our future)

    Umm, it’d be helpful if you included his triple slash for those final 62 gaes rather than piece mealing it.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    This should be a fun comment section.

    “He did nuthin right. Ya shoold send him to da Jersey Shore to hand out supplies but he might miss and trow da stuff back in da watah….”

    • Cris Pengiucci

      See Eddard’s comments above. Anybody who’s number won’t be retired isn’t worth a thing.


      • Robinson Tilapia

        Did you see my restaurant recommendations in the open thread last night?

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Yes! Thanks! BTW, need a good place for Cuban sandwiches. The wife is Colombian and loves them.

          Back on topic: I’d take Martin back for a year, not sure about 2. Ross seems to be interesting if they can’t work things out with Martin.

          • Johnny Damon’s noodle arm

            Bogota in park slope, nice little joint

            • Robinson Tilapia

              HA! The owners are actually really good friends of mine. They would really love the shout-out you just gave them.

              I second the recommendation.

              If you’re looking for a good Cuban sandwich in the area near which you’re staying, though, El Castillo de Jagua on Rivington and Essex does a solid cheap one.

              I *think* there’s a Sophie’s Cuban somewhere in Tribeca. Not a huge fan.

              Beware of faux-Cuban places in NYC. There are plenty of them.

              • Cris Pengiucci

                Thanks. A trip to Brooklyn may be in order.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  A trip to the neighborhood of Robinson Tilapia and Ben Kabak is always a good idea.

      • Winter

        Teams should only sign catchers who are as good as Buster Posey.


        • jjyank

          Eduardo Nunez is the father of my child.


  • RetroRob

    What were his stats over the last 62 games?

    • Nigel Incubator-Jones


      One of the cooler Baseball-reference features. Go to game log and you can highlight any stretch of games and it gives you the totals/averages

    • Steve (different one)


      • RetroRob

        Thanks Nigel and Steve.

  • Got Heeeeeeem

    I like his attitude, even when he isn’t hitting well. Great to see in a player. There are many facets to the game of baseball, don’t let temporary mediocrity in one effect what you’re good at.

  • vicki

    surely he’s a selling point for hirok.