Victor Martinez just continues to produce for the Tigers. After a solid bounce back in 2016, can fantasy owners trust him this season?
The term “professional hitter” gets thrown around a lot in MLB, but few in baseball match that description the same way Victor Martinez does. After a down season in 2015 thanks to a knee injury, he bounced back in a big way in 2016. But, can owners believe in him again moving forward?
Martinez will be entering his 15th season in 2017. He is building an illustrious resume, and will get some Hall of Fame consideration when things are said and done. But, heading into 2017, fantasy owners will have to be impressed with what they saw last season.
He quietly finished the season with a .289/27 HR/86 RBI/.826 OPS line. He rarely gets the fantasy love he deserves, but he once again turned in another great season. Even though his K-rate was a career high, he still has not posted a 100 K season his entire career.
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The biggest bugaboo with Martinez’s fantasy value is that he does not qualify for any other position except the UTIL spot. He lost his C eligibility and rarely gets any first base starts. He has also lost basically two seasons to knee injuries over the five years, so the inherent risk with the near 40-year-old is clear.
However, he just keeps producing. He has an ample sample size when it comes to his batted ball totals. His 2015 season was largely a waste because of the offseason knee surgery he never seemed to recover from. Therefore, it would be better to compare his last season totals with that of his tremendous 2014 season, where he posted a .335/32 HR/103 RBI line.
In 2014, his batted ball data read as followed, 21% LD, 41% GB, 38% FB, 51% Med, and 39% Hard contact rates.
In 2016, his batted ball data read as followed, 23% LD, 37% GB, 39% FB, 45% Med, and 39% Hard contact rates.
It is clear to see that when healthy, he can still hit with the best of them and his consistency is ridiculous. His contact rate dipped thanks to the K uptick, but he is still squaring the ball up just as good as ever. In 2014 he averaged 388 ft. per homer. Even though he had five fewer homers last season, he averaged 393 ft. per homer, the pop is still there.
Another solid reason for taking Martinez is that the Tigers’ lineup is still great for his counting stats. With a hopefully healthy J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, he should once again be a candidate for 100 RBI. The AVG may not sit in the .300s anymore, but he should roll out of bed and be able to bat .270.
Look for Martinez to once again post a .280/20 HR/100 RBI type of line, and fantasy owners should not bat an eye to drafting him as a mid-rounder and slotting him in the UTIL role.