Blue Jays: Can Russell Martin rebound in 2018?
Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin struggled offensively in 2017, however, the backstop also battled an array of injuries throughout the course of the season which contributed to his below career norms statistically.
Russell Martin will be 35-years old before Opening Day next season and is signed through 2019. The 2017 campaign was a struggle for the Canadian as he made two trips to the disabled list for a shoulder irritation in which he missed a couple of weeks as well as a late-season oblique injury that cost him a month. Martin also battled a minor neck injury sandwiched between the DL trips in June.
As a result, Martin slashed .221/.343/.388 with 13 home runs and 83 strikeouts in 91 games. It is the lowest total number of games Martin has played in a season in his entire 12-year career. Martin also accumulated a 1.5 WAR which was also the lowest of his career as the injuries took their toll on Canada’s catcher.
Defensively Martin threw out baserunners at a 20% clip hosing 12 out of a would be 60 base stealers. The major league average in 2017 for catchers was 27%. In 2016, Martin hovered at 15% a far cry from his 44% success rate in 2015.
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Manager John Gibbons also employed Martin at third base on 10 occasions, a move that was surely two-fold due to all the injuries and to alleviate the day to day pounding on Martin and get him out of the tools of ignorance every now and then.
Regardless of the numbers, Martin brings intangibles that cannot be measured statistically to a ball club on the day to day as you can’t measure the effect the backstop has had on the likes of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.
The Jays front office will be compelled to find the aging starter a reliable backup as the revolving door was not effective last season. Gibby scrawled Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Luke Maile, Miguel Montero, Rafael Lopez and Mike Ohlman on the lineup card at various points throughout the season when Martin was unavailable.
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Don’t bet against Martin in 2018 as the sure money would be on the savvy veteran to rebound and once again hit the 20 homer plateau and contribute like times of old. Father Time can’t even keep this gamer down, well at least not yet anyway.