Detroit Tigers: What’s the Deal with J.D. Martinez?

Apr 19, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez has been missing in action for so long that it’s becoming easy to forget about him.

With the Detroit Tigers replacement outfielders getting solid hits and providing average defense, it’s kind of like he’s still there.

So, what’s the latest with Martinez? Will we (the fans) see him in 2017?

Yesterday, The Oakland Press‘s Matthew B. Mowery provided an update on Martinez via Brad Ausmus:

Detroit Tigers
Mar 12, 2017; Lakeland, FL, USA;Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) runs to first base on a double to center during the third inning of an MLB spring training baseball game against the New York Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

"“Really, as soon as something new happens with J.D., I’ll tell you, but there’s nothing new. There’s no schedule for him to go out on rehab. It’s when J.D. feels like he’s able to play and run — on the bases and in the outfield — he’ll play."

Martinez’s problem began on March 18 when he sprained the Lisfranc ligament on his right foot. This injury has proven to be rather stubborn. The early prognosis was that Martinez would be back on the field within a month, but the seventh week is rapidly approaching. Unfortunately for Martinez and the Tigers, the injury may take even longer to heal.

According to, Lisfranc injuries can be long lasting and slow to heal, especially if the injury does not require surgery. It is not uncommon for athletes to miss at least eight weeks or more.

Currently, Martinez is participating in extended spring training games in Lakeland, Florida. He’s been hitting as a DH because he cannot run in any defensive positions yet. This is the trouble with the Lisfranc injury. He has done some running, but not enough without discomfort to play defense. At this point, he will not return to the Tigers until he can run in the outfield and be completely pain-free.

Meanwhile, he replacement players have been filling in well. The players who have taken his spot in right field include both Mikie Mahtook, Jim Adduci, and Tyler Collins. After JaCoby Jones was hit in the face, Ausmus moved Collins to center field. And, Adduci has been so efficient in the outfield and at the plate that he has seen serious playing time since he was called up when Collins had to move to center field. Both Collins and Adduci bat from the left side, which is something in short supply with the Tigers.

Adduci’s current slash is .323/.362/.484 with an OPS of .848. Collins has a slash of .284/.346/.405 with an OPS of .751 that includes two home runs. With only nine games under his belt, Adduci is recording a 0.3 WAR. In his 13 games, Collins’ WAR is -0.3. In 2016, Martinez finished the season with a slash of .307/.373/.535 and an OPS of .908 with a WAR of 1.9. In 2015, his WAR was an impressive 4.9.

Of the current active 25-man roster, Adduci and Collins are in the second and third spots respectively regarding their batting averages. Alex Avila continues to lead the Tigers with his unbelievable performances at the plate. All three men have come through in clutch situations, and their stats show it.

Mahtook hasn’t been on the field in quite some time, so it is difficult to evaluate his full performance. However, he has come through in some tight situations and he look more than capable when manning right field. Unfortunately, his .182/.270/.333 with a .604 OPS cannot compete with Collins and Adduci. And, Mahtook doesn’t come with the desirable left-handed bat, either.

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On defense, Collins and Adduci have performed as expected. It’s no secret that center field is sprawling, so it is easy to make an occasional error and Collins has done just that. He has errors in both right and center. Adduci is error-free. In 2016, Martinez made six errors in right field and his dWAR was actually a negative number: -2.7, which was the lowest in his career. Adduci has not played long enough to have enough information to evaluate regarding defensive WAR. However, Collins has and his 2016 dWAR was better than Martinez’s with a -0.6. Collins played in 56 games in 2017 and Martinez played in 120. Had Collins played in more games, his WAR numbers might be more like Martinez’s than not. They are both average outfielders and many experts consider them to be sub-par at playing right field.

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I’m a Martinez fan and would love to see him get up to the plate sometime soon. However, his ability to play the whole game is the most important part of his recovery. If his healing goes as predicted, he should be able to return within the next two to three weeks.