Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's Wrong With Russell Martin?

posted by Jon Williams
Russell Martin is a player that usually gets drafted a bit higher than he should. That is obviously because he has been one of the better fantasy catchers available. But this year his power and even his batting average seem to have completely evaporated. But it is very rare for a 26-year old to degrade this quickly. So it must be something that can be fixed.

Martin's walk rate is about the same as always hovering around 14 percent. His strikeout rate is slightly elevated at 19.6 percent, which is high when compared to his career average of 15.7 percent. While his BABIP is okay at .298, it is low for Martin whose career BABIP of .312 is fitting for a player with his speed and plate discipline. His GB/LD/FB rates look almost exactly the same as previous seasons.

It is worth noting that his power began to evaporate in the second half of the 2008 season. After the All-Star Break, Martin hit just .260/.371/.336 in 223 at-bats. That line looks an awful lot like this season's .239/.348/.282 slash.



Steiner Sports Los Angeles Dodgers Joe Torre Autographed Baseball

This looks like a combination of horrible luck and some mental issues. He is not doing anything dramatically different. Scouts, including fantasy expert Jason Grey, have noted that he doesn't seem to be swinging the bat with authority. I think rather than looking at video, or taking extra reps in the batting cage, Martin needs someone to kick him in the ass and motivate him. Joe Torre probably isn't that guy. Maybe Don Mattingly could get to him.

This spring a lot of sites picked up on this Globe and Mail quote:
"Martin, 26, has big plans for himself and the Dodgers, who are waiting patiently for Manny Ramirez before declaring themselves favorites in the NL West. One of them involves a calmer approach. He's added yoga to his training regimen. He's resolved to sleep better and eat more carefully. He's settled down with a steady girlfriend, and while babies aren't in the picture, 'We are practicing a lot,' he says, smiling."
I've played enough sports to know that calm only seems like a good thing. Most athletes need to get fired up and excited in order to play at their highest levels. It is the reason behind the fist pumps, the celebration dances and the high fives. This is just my opinion but taking Martin out for a bacon cheeseburger, some greasy onion rings, and a drunken fat chick might be the best thing for him.

But more seriously, I don't think Martin has lost any skill or that there is anything physically wrong with him. Unfortunately, I think Martin has lost some of his motivation to play the game, which does not bode well for fantasy leaguers. I would be very willing to trade Martin if I owned him. I would not acquire Martin unless I were receiving a very good deal.

What's Wrong with Russell Martin?



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