Victor Martinez flashing surprising power
Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez is quickly becoming one of the more valuable players in fantasy, but my favorite stat on him is this: In an era of ridiculous strikeout totals by hitters, Martinez has actually homered more times than he has struck out. Think about how unlikely that is! Martinez finished off Detroit’s ninth-inning comeback Tuesday with his ninth home run of the season, and he has fanned only eight times. The only qualified hitters to finish a season having hit more home runs than times struck out over the past 50 seasons are George Brett in 1980 and Barry Bonds in 2004. Perhaps Martinez won’t make it, but to even be ahead of the pace after six weeks is still incredible.
The underrated Martinez is good enough to end up a clear top-10 first baseman this season, and few realize it. Now 35, the switch-hitter is owned in all leagues and Tuesday played in his ninth game at first base, leaving him one short of adding this critical eligibility. Being eligible at first base isn’t quite like catcher or shortstop, but still, having the flexibility to move anyone out of the DH/utility slot is a big deal. Ask David Ortiz owners. Martinez also has homered four times in the past week and he’s hitting .336 for the season, torching left-handed pitchers (.452 batting average) while handling right-handers as well, as he did with his mammoth blast off Baltimore Orioles closer Tommy Hunter Tuesday. The batting average might not be so surprising, because Martinez has hit better than .300 in every season of his career except one, but he’s also on pace for 42 home runs. Considering he hit 14 in 159 games last season, 12 in 2011 -- he missed 2012 -- and his career high is 25, this also is mighty impressive.