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On Russell Martin

April 17, 2015

This came up in the chatbox the other night when it was working: DAVID stood by his autumn assertion that the Jays overpaid Russell Martin (this desk agrees), but claimed that Martin was a stud real-life baseball player for his defence.

Yeah well, no.

Look, I’ve got a lot of emotions about Martin. I think he should have stayed in Pittsburgh for another contract and become a Stargell or a Parker. I don’t think last year’s .832 OPS can ever be repeated because his BABIP was off the charts. I do think the Jays overpaid (5/$82M) because I don’t think he’ll catch for all five seasons–and I think the Jays are a better team with Navarro catching and, say, Nelson Cruz in left.

Martin happens to be off to a slow start (one hit in 28 PA) however we all know he raked last year.

But DAVID’s valuing Martin for his defense as a “real life” baseball player is exaggerated. Here’s his baseball-reference page:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/martiru01.shtml

Scroll down to “PlayerValue–Batters” (second table) and look at Martin’s dWAR: 13.2 over ten seasons through 2014. That sounds great until you hover over what dWAR means (red abbreviation at top of column: here “replacement” is considered to be “league average”. Complicating matters, over a third of that came in the last two years at Pittsburgh. Unlike in Toronto, the Pirates neither work fast (Buehrle) nor hold guys on (Dickey)–offering any catcher with a pulse lots of chances to throw people out.

So Martin is a slightly above average catcher defensively: 13.2 in 1163 games. Dioner Navarro isn’t quite as good (4.0 in 864 games) but still above average. Yadier Molina (18.7 in 1328) is well better. Jose Molina could more than keep up with his brother for pace defensively (9 dWAR in 743 games) but of course couldn’t hit a lick.

We still think Martin can hit.

He’s an above average defensive catcher, but not the stud DAVID thinks he is.

5/$82M? It’s not a Vernon Wells contract, but it’s not great either.

Extra Bags, Chat Edition:  If and when Yahoo gets the chatbox working again, please join in. Along the top bar, far right, just left of Fantasy, clickl the speech bubble. Select our league. Chat away.

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