Well, we all sort of knew that a player such as Russell Martin wouldn’t be held down for the entire season. Fortunately for the New York Yankees, Martin’s bat has been very much alive since September and has become a prominent force in this line-up as he batted .256 for the month, which seems like .350 when compared to his Mendoza-line hovering for much of the season. September was by far Martin’s biggest month and perhaps his most productive as he added six home runs and 16 RBIs. Martin’s on-base percentage was .348, the highest out of any month in 2012 contributed by 11 walks. Martin also stole two bases in September. Catchers stealing bases, crazy concept right? Martin has definitely turned it around for the Yanks and at no better time.
While people may scoff at Martin’s .210 batting average when the season is over, Yankees’ fans will remember that his September far outweighed his April through August. Does it necessarily justify his season long slump? No, but for him to produce in this line-up that is lately reliant upon Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Ichiro Suzuki, is huge. Three players can’t do all the work, but four can certainly start to make a difference. That’s where Martin factors in.
His work in September was amazing and if we shorten the period in the past week Martin has three home runs, five RBI and scored three runs. For this line-up, Martin adds power to the bottom of the order and with the Baltimore Orioles on the Yankees’ tail for the AL East title his ability to drive the ball relieves pressure on the middle of the lineup.
Sure, catchers aren’t the greatest of hitters and Martin is by far from being the exception to the rule, but what he has given us is hope in him. The role of catcher is 80% defense, 20% hitting. Okay, perhaps my made up percentages don’t exactly portray an accurate description, but in plain English, catching is a defensive role, not an offensive one. That’s what a lot of people forgot about Martin, me included.
When Martin was signed to play for the Yankees, most felt it was because of his defensive play. Being a recipient of a Gold Glove Award in 2007, Martin was by no means a slouch behind the plate. Even in 2007, Martin’s bat earned him a Silver Slugger Award. Now we flash-forward to five years later in 2012. Martin’s defense may not be as sharp as it was four or five years ago, but he’s committed only six errors in 2012 whereas he committed 10 last year and in 2010. Now to balance that out, Martin is also on the down trend in throwing guys out.
Last year, Martin threw out 40 runners out of a total of 95 which translated into a caught stealing rate of .296%. In 2012, Martin has only thrown out 19 of 61 runners and has a caught stealing percentage of .238%. To say that Martin has begun the declining process is absolutely asinine, but he just wasn’t as sharp this year. Regardless, Martin’s defense is a reason why the front office decided to keep him this year and possibly even into next year where we might (and I stress might) see Austin Romine depending on how well he bounces back from injury.
So, for Martin, the majority of his season has been incredibly strained offensively, but his recent surge with the bat has helped keep the Yankees afloat. We knew Martin had to snap out of this at sometime and fortunately it was now. As the old saying goes “it’s better late than never.”