Detroit Tigers: A look at Victor Martinez’s Swan Song
By Andy Patton
With the season drawing to a close, we are going to provide year-end grades to each Detroit Tigers player who donned the Olde English D in 2018.
The Detroit Tigers have nearly completed the first year of what looks to be a multi-year rebuilding process. While the team was hard to watch at times, there is still plenty to evaluate from this season as we look ahead to the next few years.
As with any team, there were a lot of excellent performances, surprise performances, and of course disappointing performances. Here at Motor City Bengals, we are going to be evaluating each player who suited up for the Detroit Tigers this season. We will analyze how they performed, what their future holds in the Motor City, and we will provide them a grade.
Note: the grade will be relative to what was expected of them. So a player who performed well above expectations may earn a B or an A, even if their actual season numbers are not that elite. If you disagree, feel free to drop us a comment. We would love to have discussions about these!
Injuries cut short the seasons of Michael Fulmer (discussed here) John Hicks (here) and Jose Iglesias (here) allowing us to provide them with postseason grades a bit early. Our next grade goes to a player who finished his season early as well, although it was not for an injury.
2014 and 2016 were two of Martinez’s best seasons, while 2015 and 2017 represented significant steps backward. It gave some fans hope that perhaps Martinez had some ‘even-year magic’ in him, and that he would finish his career in 2018 on a high note.
Alas, that did not happen. Martinez remained a mainstay in Detroit’s lineup this season, serving as the designated hitter and batting either fourth or fifth in nearly every one of this starts. He mustered a lowly .251/.297/.353 slash with nine home runs, a 74 wRC+ and a -1.6 fWAR.
Martinez was in the final year of his gargantuan four-year contract, and most expected he would retire at the end of this season. That was confirmed recently, and he actually chose to retire in front of the home crowd last Saturday, taking the final road trip off.
Martinez did not have a good final season, but he was an important piece of Detroit’s success in the last half decade or so. His absence next season will allow Miguel Cabrera to slide over to the designated hitter spot, which should help keep him healthy while he plays out the rest of his contract. It leaves a hole at first base, but the Tigers will find a way to plug that before the season starts.
Based off 2017, it was hard to have too high of expectations for Martinez coming into his age-39 season. However, his performance this season didn’t even reach those limited expectations, and ultimately his bat was a deterrent for the team. His at-bats could have been better served going to a younger player. That won’t be a problem next season.
Martinez was an excellent Tiger for a very long time, but with an eye to the future it is time for his career to be over.
Check back here daily for more player grades! And if you’d like to discuss any grades, please leave us a comment on our Facebook or Twitter page.