Detroit Tigers: Time to Rest Victor Martinez

On a team loaded with kids under 30, Victor Martinez is one Detroit Tigers player who looks like he needs a little break. Just a game or two. Or three.

As the Detroit Tigers are vying for a playoff spot, this Martinez is currently doing more harm than good.

On August 10, he reached a month-high batting average of .305 (he reached it again on August 27) and since then he’s been making his way down into the .290s. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing for most hitters, but for a professional hitter like V-Mart, it is not like him to fall so far so quickly.

What About Those Numbers?

From August 12 until today, V-Mart’s numbers haven’t been terrible. They just haven’t been quite right. In those 20 games, he has a batting average of .244 in 78 at-bats. He has grounded into two double plays and has 13 strikeouts and 6 walks.

Aug 23, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) hits a home run against the Minnesota Twins in the seventh inning at Target Field. The Tigers win 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In the 20 games prior to August 10, he had a batting average of .319 with 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. He also grounded into two double plays in 72 at bats. These numbers are more Victor-like.

The biggest difference in the post-August-10 games is the number of strikeouts. Over the years, Martinez is almost as likely to walk as he is to strike out. In 2014, Martinez walked 70 times and only struck out 42 times. In most of his other years, the numbers were close – like 2009 when he walked 75 times and K’d 74 times.

He’s Still One Competitive Guy

Baseball season is long and tiring, especially for players who are closer to 40 than 30. And just because Victor is getting close to 38 doesn’t mean he isn’t competitive anymore. He is just as competitive, if not more so. This season, Martinez has only missed five games – which is quite an accomplishment for any player – especially one who has so many injuries under his belt.

This season, Martinez has only missed five games – which quite an accomplishment for him. In his 130 games, he has 521 plate appearances. He has gotten hits in the last 20 games, but his slowness makes him a difficult player to score. In the last eight games, he has not scored a run and his last RBI was on August 25 against the Minnesota Twins. This is highly unusual for him. 

Bringing Back the Mojo

We’ve all heard about the good things that can happen to players after a day or two off. Take Justin Upton for example. In the 13 games since his little break in August, he has 15 RBIs and 6 home runs. His slash is an impressive .333/.407/.771 with an OPS of 1.178 in 54 plate appearances. He has walked six times and struck out only 12 times.

Even Miguel Cabrera has had a day off to get his mojo back. After a slump in late June, Miggy was given a day off in the July series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The very next day, he went two for four. While the day off wasn’t as transformational as Upton’s was, it was still a necessity that helped more than it hurt.

The biggest sign that Martinez needs a day off was the last series against the White Sox. Martinez is usually a force to be reckoned with against the Sox. But in the last three games against them at the end of August, he only had 2 hits in 12 plate appearances. In fact, in the last 24 at-bats, he has only gotten 3 hits (.125 batting average). That is certainly not the V-Mart we all know and love. He needs a day off – soon.

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