Blue Jays: Good, Bad, & the Ugly- Russell Martin

BOSTON, MA - JULY 20: Russell Martin
BOSTON, MA - JULY 20: Russell Martin /

Jays Journal takes a look at the year that was for the Toronto Blue Jays roster, with today’s edition featuring catcher, Russell Martin.

Russell Martin will be entering the 4th year of the five-year deal he signed with the Blue Jays back in the offseason of 2014. The 34-year old will turn 35 before Opening Day and is poised to earn $20 million per season for the remainder of the pact.

Regardless of what Martin accomplishes with the bat, if the backstop can stay healthy then he will provide the team and most importantly the pitching staff with a plethora of intangibles that we cannot measure in a box score or analytically.

I would do the 5-year deal all over again in a heartbeat, Martin is a hard-nosed, leave it all on the field type gamer who on top of it all is from our home and native land. Ok, on to the year in review.

The Good

Russell Martin was limited to just 91 games this past season due to an oblique injury, a shoulder irritation, and a nagging neck injury. However, Martin still managed to lead the American League with 50 walks among catchers and would have surely eclipsed the 20-homer plateau for the third consecutive had he been healthy.

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The backstop still connected for 13 round trippers in 365 plate appearances and was also used at third base on 10 occasions by Manager John Gibbons in 2017. The assortment of injuries was an anomaly last season and should not linger into 2018. Martin is renowned for notorious conditioning and undoubtedly will show up to spring training in Dunedin in the best shape of his life poised to put 2017 behind him.

As I mentioned earlier, you can’t measure the intangibles that Martin brings to a team and a pitching staff. It’s not a coincidence last season was the first time the catcher has missed the postseason since breaking into the league in 2006. He comes to play and he comes to win.

The Bad

Last season was the second lowest batting average Martin has ever accumulated in the majors. The .221 clip was only better than his than his 2012 season with the Yankees where he batted .211. That season Martin did also pound out 21 homers to offset the drop in average.

Martin also struggled versus division rivals last season especially the Boston Red Sox. The Canuck hit .083/.244/.206 with one home run and 11 whiffs in 41 plate appearances versus Boston. Those numbers coupled with his .165/.295/.162 line versus the Orioles in 44 plate appearances negates some much-needed offensive thump in those all-important divisional contests.

Obviously, teams like the Red Sox with dominant southpaws can inflict punishment as Martin only hit .154 in  80 plate appearances versus lefties in 2017.

The Ugly

The biggest concern for me may very well be the decrease in effectiveness throwing runners out, that also falls on the respective hurler, however, Martin is nowhere near previous years numbers throwing runners out. In 2017, Martin only managed to throw out 12 of a would be 60 baserunners and 2016 was much of the same throwing out 11 of 72 runners.

The last two seasons are a far cry from his incredible 2015 statistics where he hosed 32 of 72 would be base stealers. Hopefully, Martin can re-establish the cannon and spark fear in base runners as in years past.

Next: Minor League Free Agents worth the gamble in 2018

The ability to remain healthy and take the least amount of pounding behind the dish will be paramount to the return of Russ. Don’t bet against this guy, he is something special and will prove naysayers wrong just when you think he won’t.

Look for a bounce-back campaign season in 2018.