Think Blue

Obsessing over the Dodgers' minor league system so you don't have to.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Season Preview - Russell Martin

Since Spring Training is about to begin, I thought I might look ahead to what Dodger fans can expect out of the 2010 season. I figured I'd start with the backstop, since his career hasn't shaped up to what fans have expected.


Russell Martin has seen his production at the plate dwindle over the past 3 seasons. In 2007, Martin was an all star, a gold glover and a silver slugger. He collected 19 home runs, stole 21 bases (a single season record for a Dodger catcher), and posted an .843 OPS. It seemed like Russ had a very bright career ahead of him, having achieved such accolades at the ripe old age of 24.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been all beer and skittles for number 55. His HR totals have dropped each of the past 2 years, and his OPS has plummeted, dipping below .700 in 2009.

Looking at his batted ball data, Russell has continually posted heavy groundball ratios. Nearly half his balls in play are on the ground. And his HR/FB (home runs per flyball) have dropped from 12.2% in 2007 to just 5.4% in 2009. Now, luck has something to do with his decline, as his BABIP has dropped each of the past 3 years, but I think the main area of concern is his decline in production on fastballs. Bear with me, as the following delves into the sabermetric study of converting batted balls into runs.

In 2007, per every 100 fastballs Martin saw, he produced 1.69 runs above average, placing him 27th in the league (of qualified batters). In 2009, his number was -0.07, which was 135th. More simply, Russell has gone from a very good fastball hitter to a very bad fastball hitter.

What to Expect

It's not all doom and gloom for Martin, who did suffer from some bad luck in 2009. His BABIP was just .284, in spite of a 20.5% line drive rate and heavy groundball tendencies. According to Hit F/X, he was one of the unluckiest batters in the month of April. So his performance should pick up simply by regressing, or in his case progressing, to the mean.

Still, I think his approach to these offensive downfalls is backwards. Instead of relying on his strengths (getting on base and spraying line drives), he's gained 20 pounds since last season and, presumably, believes he'll be a better power hitter this year. The sooner he realizes he's a natural #2 hitter and not a #4 hitter, the better.


  • At 4:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I can see the weight/strength gain working both ways. But a good analysis. Here's your cookie.


  • At 1:47 PM , Blogger mark said...


    E-mail me your contact info - I'd like to discuss something with you.

  • At 5:06 PM , Blogger Jared said...

    You can email me at


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