At 37 years of age, Detroit Tigers switch-hitter Victor Martinez cranked out three home runs against the strong pitching Kansas City Royals. He continues on his tear through pitchers in the MLB. This begs the question: Is he the best switch hitter of all time?
There have been some unbelievable hitters who could bat from either side, but how many of them have stats that are comparable to VMarts?
Some of the top switch hitters in history include men like Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones. All of these men were naturally right-handed. Where does VMart rank with this legendary group of baseball players?
The first thing to consider with Martinez is the number of time he finished the season with a batting average over .300. In his 13 years of baseball (this is his 14th), he hit over .300 in 9 of those years. He is currently batting over .300 in 2016. In 69% of his seasons, he batted over .300.
The Mick played 18 seasons and he batted over .300 in 10 of his seasons (55%). Charlie Hustle batted over .300 in 16 of his 24 years (67%). Chipper Jones batter over .300 in 10 of his 19 years (53%). Steady Eddie batted over .300 in 7 of his 21 years (33%).
When it comes to other comparisons between the five switch-hitters, it is easy to see why Martinez can be included in a conversation with them. Consider this chart, keeping in mind that VMart is an active player (as long as his legs can still carry him):
In 2016 alone, Martinez has batted from the right side (29) half as many times as he has batted from the left (59). He has four home runs from the right and eight from the left. Last night against the Royals, he hit two from the left and one from the right. In 2014, he hit 32 home runs with 20 of them coming from the left side. VMart has hit 34% of his home runs from the right side.
Mickey Mantle hit 30% of his home runs from the right side, he was more powerful on the left. Jones hit 34% of his home run from his right side. Murray his 28% from the right. Pete Rose hit 26% of his home runs from the right side.
When it comes to hitting, these five men were some of the best. The fact that they all could hit from both sides of the plate makes them even more of a spectacle. Martinez does have some catching up to do through his next few years in the MLB. Hopefully, his knees will last as long as his contract with the Tigers lasts.
But, when looking at the percentages – which is the only fair way to analyze the hitting similarities of these five switch hitters – it is safe to say that Victor Martinez is one of the best switch hitters in baseball today, if not in history. And, keep in mind, Martinez’s stats include his horrible 2015 season. While he is not the best in every statistical category yet, time will tell if he can reach the status of best switch hitter ever.