by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The news broke yesterday that the Detroit Tigers had re-signed Victor Martinez to a four year, $68 million contract. It’s not a complete surprise, especially after the year he posted in 2014, but that’s a long commitment and a lot of money for a 35-year old (he’ll be 36 before the start of the 2015 season) who is virtually a DH at this stage of his career. Yes, he could see some time at first base but that’s going to be Miguel Cabrera’s spot on most days.
From Detroit’s perspective they needed to bring him back to compete in 2015. The question for fantasy owners is if he can replicate what was a career season?
Martinez is coming off a year where he hit .335 with 32 HR and 103 RBI. A career .306 hitter, he’s hit over .300 in five straight seasons that he’s played (remember, he missed all of 2012) and eight of the past nine. We can argue that he can’t maintain that type of mark, especially given his 6.6% strikeout rate, but this this the least of our concerns.
We all know Martinez can hit for a strong average and, even at his age, there’s no reason to think anything is going to change.
Obviously the big question hanging over him is his power, especially playing half his games in Comerica Park. Prior to last season he had never hit more than 25 HR in a year and that came back in 2007. While getting out from behind the plate could have helped keep him strong (though he only had 11 HR after the All-Star Break), it’s not like it added a significant number of AB. Martinez had 561 AB last season, the eighth time in his career he’s had at least 520 AB.
Last season he posted a HR/FB of 16.0%, by far a career best (career mark of 10.7%). Considering the ballpark he plays in, his split is interesting:
- Home – 15 HR (15.3% HR/FB)
- Road – 17 HR (16.7% HR/FB)
In 2013 he hit just 7 HR at home and 7 HR on the road. In 2014 his average distance on non-groundballs was 274.798, up from 269.675 in 2013. Does a 5 foot increase really justify such a dramatic increase in home runs? It seems like a little too big of a jump, given the numbers, history and home ballpark.
Obviously from a fantasy perspective the contract dollars and length are meaningless, but valuing him based on 2014 (like the Tigers clearly did), and more so his first half when he hit 21 HR, would be a mistake. Look for a regression, meaning someone else will likely overpay. I’m not planning on owning Martinez in any league in 2015 and I’d recommend you do the same.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps
*** Make sure to pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, complete with projections of over 500 players, expended rankings, sleepers, Top 50 prospects and so much more (including constant updates up until opening day). For just $5 (through November, then the cost will increase to $6) you will get everything you need to dominate your fantasy league! For more information and to place your order, click here. ***