Ever since Russell Martin burst upon the Dodger public to take the place of the injured Dioner Navarro in 2006 he has been one of the best players on the team, and a fan favorite due to his skills and enthusiasm for the game. By the all - star game of 2008 it appeared we had the best player at a position in the NL and that hasn't happened often for the Dodgers in this century. I enjoyed his game so much I probably put him on to high of a pedestal.
During the spring of 2008 I mentioned that I thought Russell Martin could be a leading candidate for the MVP. My rational was that Martin was loved by the media, the best player on the Dodgers, and that the Dodgers might win the pennant. At the all-star game Martin was holding up his end of the bargain and I wrote this story about the great tradition of Dodger catchers after watching Martin display his all around skills in the all star game by catching 10 innings in the epic battle.
At the end of July my boy Martin had a triple slash line of 297/393/428 good for a 821 OPS. He had the average, the excellent OB skills, and just enough power to be dangerous. When you throw in the stolen bases he was looking very much like the brilliant young catcher Jason Kendall of 1999. Since that time this is what Russel Martin has done with the bat.
That is not the all - star Russell Martin that garnered the nickname the Golden God over at Dodger Thoughts. He has had 13 XBH in 300 plate appearances. Many thought he simply wore down in 2008 and that was why his XBHs stopped showing up, but is that really the problem? Many have pointed out that he's still valuable because of his plate discipline but other then Sept where is that plate discipline? We snicker at Brad Ausmus but Brad Ausmus could provide just as much offense as Russell Martin has provided over the last 300 plate appearances.
Jason Kendall was the best young catcher in baseball in 1999 when he broke his ankle on July 4th. Many think that was the end of his dominance but he came back from the injury in 2000 to have another great season. Unfortunately for Kendall and his fans it was his last great season. At the tender age of 27 Jason Kendall was done as an elite offensive catcher.
I sure as hell hope this is just a blimp on Martin's journey and not a sign of things to come. When a player is in a deep slump I used to say the deeper the slump the better the munch when they break out. I'm crossing my fingers that Martin will be eating well in the coming weeks.