Victor Martinez went 1-3 with a walk in Friday’s 8-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels to raise his batting average to .196 on the season. That average is nowhere close to good, but batting average alone doesn’t tell the whole story.
Martinez’s walk on Friday was his tenth of the season. That’s a notable figure because it’s already half of the walk total that Delmon Young accumulated a season ago. Walks, of course, aren’t everything when it comes to hitting, but they have allowed Martinez to maintain a .313 OBP even though very few of his batted balls are falling in for hits. Young didn’t walk hardly at all and managed only a .297 OBP last year even though his batting average was a better-than-league-average .267.
Martinez’s .313 OBP isn’t necessarily very good — last year the MLB average for non-pitchers was .324 — but it’s allowing him provide even marginal value at the plate while he waits for his hitting fortunes to turn. And we can expect them to. His batting average on balls in play is a very low .212 — a number that will trend north toward his career line of .314.
He’ll start to see balls in play drop for hits and his total batting line will take big jump toward the positive. If we took his current .196/.313/.214 slash line and adjusted his BABIP from .212 to .300, his OBP would soar above .380. And more hits would mean more extra-base hits which would put his OPS well into the mid-to-upper .700′s.
Victor isn’t really finding success at the dish right now, but his plate discipline and excellent eye are allowing him to scrape together some value, and, once the hits come, will allow him to return to being an extremely valuable hitter similar to how he was in 2011.