Bounceback, rebound, comeback, return to form: these are the sort of terms in use when people discuss Russell Martin following a 2009 that was offensively disappointing, to the tune of a .680 OPS (the table below totals to a .681 OPS, but that is due to rounding errors), including an incredibly low .329 slugging percentage. To put that slugging percentage in perspective, David Eckstein and former Dodger Juan Pierre each had full-season slugging percentages that low, once, just once.
This power loss started in the second half of 2008, when the man with three middle names (Nathan Coltrane Jeanson) slugged a similarly low .336. In the off-season that followed, the answer was supposed to be yoga, but as stated above, the power outage continued. This off-season, the answer became muscle mass, along with a diet change. For a catcher being pummeled by foul tips, pitches in the dirt, and the occasional runner barreling home, building your body to be "like a linebacker" might not be a bad idea. The jury is still out, however. The groin injury that Martin suffered at the beginning of spring training has kept his bat mostly hidden from obvious view, so there have been limited reports on how he has looked hitting.
A glance at some of Martin's statistics suggests that strength may have played a part in his 2009 slump; his home run to fly ball ratio was a low 5.4% after posting ratios between 9.3% and 12.2% during his career. There may also have been some bad luck involved as he had a career-low .284 BABIP - his BABIP through 2008 was .311 - despite a career-high line-drive percentage of 20.5%.
Russell Martin has been a fan favorite since he was the first of the Jacksonville 5ive - check out that roster - to seize an everyday job at the major-league level and not let go. The fans are probably still firmly in Martin's corner, but they would surely like to see at least some offensive rebound from him in 2010.
Did you know that before the Dodgers drafted Russell Martin in the 17th round of the 2002 draft as an infielder, the Montreal Expos of his native Quebec also drafted him as an infielder in the 35th round of the 2000 draft?
Martin signed a one-year contract this off-season for $5.05 million, plus $50,000 incentives for reaching 550 and 600 plate appearances. He has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining.
|2010 Projections - Age 27 Season|
What are your predictions for Russell Martin (BA/OBP/SLG and Plate Appearances)? Also guess the number of starts at catcher for Martin.
(Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com)