Detroit Tigers 2016 Review: J.D. Martinez

Instead of looking forward at whether or not J.D. Martinez will be with the Detroit Tigers in 2017, let’s look at what the favorite right fielder did in 2016.

It is clear that J.D. Martinez is a true asset to the Detroit Tigers. In his short time with the team, he has become a beloved player and by all accounts, he has earned it.

Unfortunately, Martinez only played in 120 games in 2016 due to the non-displaced fracture in his elbow that he received during a game against the Kansas City Royals on June 16. He didn’t return to the game until August 3.

The Tigers and the fans definitely missed Martinez and his return on August 3 was proof. No one had a bigger 2016 moment in Detroit than Martinez when he hit the pinch-hit, first-pitch home run off of Chris Sale. For your enjoyment:

J.D. Martinez: By the Numbers

But what about the rest of the Martinez moments? Was he as good in 2016 as has was in 2015? Remember, Martinez was awarded his first and only (so far) All-Star-Game invitation, Silver Slugger award, and MVP votes? The short answer is yes.

Martinez’s offensive numbers were better. In 2015, J.D. had a slugging percentage of .535 and an OBP of .344. In 2016, he had the same slugging percentage, but his OBP was .373. Since moving to the Tigers in 2014, Martinez has had an average slugging percentage of .540. If he can keep it up, he could land in the top 100 for all-time slugging percentage. With the Tigers, his average OBP is .357, which is equal to Darryl Strawberry’s career OBP and a tiny fraction above Ichiro Suzuki’s career OBP of .356. Clearly, Martinez has had three special years in Detroit.

His other offensive numbers were impressive, too. Even though he missed 40 games, he still managed to hit 22 home runs, 35 doubles, and 2 triples. In 2015, he hit the same number of doubles and triples, but he hit 38 home runs. He walked 53 times in 2015 and 49 times in 2016.

Martinez as a Two-Hole Hitter

Despite the impressive offensive numbers, Martinez did show one clear weakness at the plate. The weakness was batting second. In the previous two years, J.D. Martinez showed that he and Victor Martinez were a powerful one-two punch in the middle of the lineup. In May, Brad Ausmus put J.D. in the two-hole batting ahead of Miguel Cabrera while Cameron Maybin was on the DL.

While he batted second in 33 games and 133 at-bats, he had a .519 slugging percentage, a .302 OBP, and an OPS of .821.  He hit nine home runs and scored 21 runs. For the rest of the season when he hit fourth or fifth, he had a .580 slugging percentage, a .418 OBP, and a .999 OPS. He scored 40 runs in 68 games and 255 at-bats. Batting second is not for J.D. Martinez.

Even though there were plenty of impressive offensive numbers in 2016, J.D.’s WAR wasn’t great. Overall, he ended the season with a 1.8, which is significantly lower than the 5.0 he finished with 2015. In 2015, he finished in first place in the AL with a fielding percentage of .993. In 2016, that number dropped to .971. His range factor per nine innings dropped from 1.93 in 2015 to 1.79 in 2016. And, his UZR/150 in 2016 was -21.5, but in 2015 it was 8.0.

It is clear that J.D. Martinez was an asset, offensively, for the Detroit Tigers in 2016. His numbers before and after his injury were typical and had he been able to play the entire season, it is safe to assume that the Tigers could have won more games. Had he and Nick Castellanos not been injured back-to-back, the Tigers would have had significantly more runs and more wins. And, as a big J.D. Martinez fan, I’m going to say that his run with the Tigers was certainly fun. He will be missed.

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