The Chef's table: Time To Trust The Other Martinez?
See Why the Fantasy Chef Thinks It Is Safe To Put Your Trust Back in J.D. Martinez
If you made it big in the restaurant business, you got a Chef’s Table.
At Fantasy Alarm we have one too. Expect here you don’t need a reservation. Or a fat stack to pay for it.
The best part about the Chef’s Table is that you get to watch the preparation of your food from start to finish. Seeing every intricate detail that goes into your dish while enjoying the company of family and friends. Well, that’s what I’m gonna give you here.
Each week I will profile a player based on increased street cred throughout the industry. Whether because of a recent hot streak, increased playing time or a promotion because of an injury. From there I will break down the recipe for that player’s success and determine if he is just a flash in the pan or someone who is gonna bring home the bacon.
Today’s Special: J.D. Martinez
After three mediocre seasons with the Houston Astros, the team decided to cut ties with Martinez just days before the start of the 2014 season, following a year in which he totals just seven home runs and 36 RBI through 296 at-bats. It was shortly after his termination that it appeared he would be a long shot to make it back to the big leagues, especially with a legitimate contender, but that has certainly not been the case.
The Tigers decided to sign Martinez to a minor league contract just shortly after the Astros decided to release him, and is now a major contributor in the team’s offense. Following a 10 home run performance through 65 at-bats for Triple-A Toledo, he has little to prove at the minor league level, earning a promotion to the big leagues in late April. Although he did not warrant many at-bats in the early going, he has since taken the league by storm filling in for the injured Torii Hunter in right field.
Through 113 at-bats, Martinez has gone yard seven times while driving in 27 RBI, with the majority of his production coming in the month of June (5 HR, 16 RBI through 56 AB). Prior to Hunter going down with a hamstring injury, Martinez found himself getting at-bats in left field against right-handed starters, with Rajai Davis’ struggles continuing in that department (.257 BA). However, now that Martinez has proved he can get the job done, it is hard to imagine he won’t get enough at-bats to stay fantasy relevant even with a healthy Hunter back in the mix.
One of the reasons for his recent success is his revamped swing that he worked on this past off-season in the Venezuelan League, knowing that there would be a lot of fresh blood to compete with once camp opened in February. Although his 2014 sample size is still on the small side, it appears whatever changes he has make to his swing have worked, now hitting more fly balls while improving upon both his AB/HR and BB/K rate along the way. Not to mention he is now slugging a career-best .593, which is a direct result of his increased power production.
It is amazing to think that after being released by the Astros this past March that he is now coming off of player of the week honors, having been a major contributor in the Tigers lineup of late. His success has started to lead to increased ownership throughout the major fantasy providers, which is now sitting around 30 percent in most formats. Although we have yet to see how at-bats will be dispersed once the Tigers outfield is back to 100 percent health, there are plenty of reason’s now is the time to start realizing that he isn’t just a flash in the pan.
For starters, he has now smacked 17 home runs between Triple-A and the big leagues and that is through only through 178 at-bats, which gives him a 10.4 AB/HR rate. If all of his at-bats were in the majors, that would rank him ahead of all the top sluggers throughout the league. Second, he will continue to get plenty of at-bats with runners on base as the Tigers own the fourth-best on-base percentage in the American League at a.318 mark. And last but not least, he has most recently been slotted behind both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the Tigers lineup which has and will continue to lead to better pitches to hit and more RBI production.
On the downside, Martinez still has his fair share of issues with the strikeout. Despite the adjustments he made this past off-season, he is still sporting a rather high strikeout rate, which is sitting at 26.9 percent between both levels of play. Not to mention he has just 10 walks through 178 total at-bats. With that said, it is unlikely he will be able to maintain a .300 batting average with a return to the mean (.258 BA) a more reasonable expectation before it is all said and done.
After breaking down this top performer of late, it is clear that the good outweighs the bad and as long as he continues to see regular at-bats. Those who are in need of both home run and RBI production will want to give him a strong look because if his recent trends continue much longer, there is no way he lasts on the waiver wire into the month of July. Outside of shallow league formats he is a must-own while seeing regular playing time in one of the better offenses in all of baseball.