Hey, we can dream, right? This is a wish list after all.
In all honesty, there is a reason for optimism surrounding V-Mart heading into his 16th big league season.
Why it could happen
Martinez posted nearly identical walk and strikeout percentages in 2017 as he did in 2016. Additionally, his hard-hit rate and medium-hit rate increased while his soft-hit rate went down between 2016 and 2017.
So Martinez’s walk numbers and strikeout numbers were the same and he was hitting the ball harder in 2017 than in 2016. Yet the results look backwards.
In 2016, Martinez hit .289 with 27 home runs and a 119 wRC+. However, things went south in 2017, where Martinez hit a career-low .255 with only 10 home runs and a career-low 85 wRC+.
Some key differences may have been a product of bad luck for V-Mart.
For starters, Martinez had a BABIP of .303 in 2016. That dropped down to .280 in 2017. His career mark is .309.
Speed plays a big factor in BABIP, and Martinez has slowed down considerably in his later years. It doesn’t seem likely he will every see that .309 mark again, but .280 is the second-lowest mark of his career, and as long as he is still hitting the ball hard he should see that number improve in 2018. If those numbers climb back around the .295 range, V-Mart should hit closer to .275.
With his 8.5% walk-rate, his OBP should climb back into the .350 range.
Power was a big problem for Martinez in 2017. While his hard-hit rate actually improved, he was not getting the ball up in the air enough to generate any home runs. His fly-ball percentage was over 38% three years in a row before dropping to 34.2% in 2017. His ground-ball rate jumped up to 42.1%, his highest since 2011.
Decreasing speed and a higher rate of ground balls is not a recipe for success for Martinez, and it showed last season.
However, a small adjustment to a more fly-ball conducive swing (factoring in the ever popular launch angle) could work wonders for V-Mart next year.
His age and declining bat speed mean he is unlikely to be a star again, but returning to .270 with over 20 home runs and a .350 OBP would be a great bonus for a rebuilding Tigers team.
The Tigers owe Victor Martinez $18MM dollars next year. Unless they trade him or he retires (neither are very likely) he will be in the lineup on a regular basis at designated hitter. It benefits the Tigers tremendously if he is able to regain some of his power and have a strong (likely final) season in Detroit.
Next up is Adam McIntosh’s wish: The Tigers sign Tim Lincecum to a deal.