Detroit Tigers fans and employees alike will be hoping for a strong, bounce-back season from Victor Martinez. The veteran designated hitter could be the key to Detroit thriving in 2016.
Detroit Tigers observers weren’t exactly sure what they had in aging designated hitter Victor Martinez after a recent slew of nagging injuries. Although he played through them, his numbers on the field were clearly affected last season. So far this season, Martinez looks poised to help the Tigers in whatever way he can.
The designated hitter Victor Martinez had an interesting year in 2015 . Coming off career year in 2014 at the age of 35, Martinez was rewarded before last season with a four-year, $68 million dollar contract. Expectations weren’t that he would necessarily exceed the 32 home run, 103 RBI, .409 OBP of 2014, however things got off to a rough start when Martinez hurt his knee during offseason workouts.
Fortunately, it wasnt a repeat of 2012, when Martinez missed the entire season. This time, it was a quick recovery and he painfully hobbled through the first month and a half of the season. It was sad to watch at times, as fly balls that would previously clear the outfield wall were coming up short of the warning track. Finally he hit the DL in mid-May after hitting only one home run and batting .216 overall.
V-Mart missed exactly a month and returned to slightly better results. He hit ten more home runs and raised his batting average to .245 by the time the season was over, which were both career lows when appearing in at least 120 games. Things were already looking bleak just one year into the fully guaranteed four-year contract, which is almost untradable since Martinez can no longer catch and can barely play first base. His only value going forward is hitting.
2016 being year two of the contract meant a $6 million pay increase and a much-anticipated rebound for Martinez, and so far he has delivered. Although it’s barely over a week into the season, the power Martinez has shown from both sides of the plate so far is a sigh of relief for Tigers fans. Not getting injured during the offseason helps of course, but now at the age of 37, a slow start combined with an obvious lack of power would have been a tough pill to swallow for the organization.
Having Victor Martinez batting behind one of the games all-time best hitters in Miguel Cabrera is something this team absolutely must rely on in order to make a run at a World Series. As the Tigers are already one of the older teams in baseball, the window to win the World Series is closing quickly.
Miguel is going to be the anchor of this franchise for many more years, however the key for the Tigers this season is making sure Victor Martinez remains healthy. If he can stay in the lineup and knock in over 100 runs, the Tigers will make the playoffs with ease and compete for another World Championship.