Jays From the Couch will look at projections made for Toronto Blue Jays catcher, Russell Martin‘s 2016 season
2015 saw Russell Martin come close to producing a career year at the plate. He was derailed late in the summer thanks to an issue with his thumb from catching the knuckleball. As well, he was dealing with a back issue. Many have applauded his work behind the dish before he came to Toronto and he didn’t disappoint, throwing out a league leading 44% of potential base stealers.
Martin posted 23 bombs to go along with 77 RBI in his first season at ‘home’. Both of these were career highs thanks to the first ISO mark of his career over .200 at .218. You might think that that power was helped out by hitting in Rogers Centre, and it sort of was. He had a .234 ISO at home vs .202 on the road.
Perhaps the one aspect of his game that went unheralded, both before he got to Toronto and during his first year, was his ability to hit with men on base. When the bases were empty, Martin hit for a .210 average. With runners on, it jumped up to .283 (.284 with runners in scoring position).
He saw the bulk of his time hitting 6th in the lineup with 268 of his 507 plate appearances in that spot. But when he hit in the 5th spot (he had the next most PA there), his average was .284. This will be worth keeping in mind since the Blue Jays have a potent lineup that will rely heavily on the heart of the order. However, his high OBP (career .352 mark) might make him a good candidate to leadoff. Though, this is unlikely.
Aside from his performance on the field, Martin appears made for playing in Toronto. The Canadian brought a no nonsense work ethic to the club that rubbed off on his teammates. Of the personalities lining the clubhouse, Martin might be the one who epitomizes the “strong, silent type”. But, make no mistake, the 33 yr old put in his time to work with the pitching staff. And, with quite a few young arms in the fold, it was a blessing.
This coming season, the Blue Jays will look for more of the same. Despite “playoff experience” under their belt, the club’s pitching staff is going to need guidance. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna are the jewels of the organization and Martin will be charged with their care.
Here’s a look at Martin’s 2016 projections from ZiPS, Steamer, Fans (via Fangraphs.com) and Marcel (via BaseballReference.com)
While projections like Steamer can be traditionally conservative, they may not be that far off in this case. Considering all of the above projections are close to each other, they paint a good idea of what we can expect from Martin’s sophomore season in Toronto. I think the home run estimations might be a bit low, but everything else seems right. And, we can all live with that kind of production from our backstop.
I’m going to say 21 HR, 65 RBI and a .245/.345/.420 line. Admittedly, the slash line was an arbitrary guess of an approximation of where he’ll land. Don’t hold me to it.
The real determining factor is how much he’ll play. As it stands right now, Josh Thole will be called upon to catch R.A. Dickey, which means that Martin will sit at least every 5th day. That’s 32 (~120 AB) games that Martin will get to rest. If he can avoid injuries, he is poised to once again lead the Blue Jays toward the playoffs.
Despite the numbers (projected or otherwise), the one thing that former GM, Alex Anthopoulos, paid a premium for when he signed him to the 5yr $85M deal was his leadership and winning approach. Everywhere Martin goes, the playoffs are sure to follow. Here’s to another year!
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0 – Image cropped from original
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