For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season. Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series. All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis. Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.
This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure. Our focus this time is Double Birds Podcast. Chase and El Maquino, joined occasionally by guests, cast a sometimes critical but always informed eye on all things Cardinals. Find them on iTunes or check out Chase’s blog.
Player: Jose Martinez
Season stats: 12 games, 18 PA, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, .438/.500/.500, 170 OPS+, 0.1 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 1
Overall grade: B-
Positives: Made his major league debut in 2016, the culmination of a long journey in the minor leagues and a testament to Martinez’s will to never give up….got his first major league hit and RBI in his second at-bat….started two games in the last week of the season for a team trying to make the playoffs….hit .269 with eight home runs in Memphis after being acquired from the Royals for cash considerations in May….had a hit in six of his last seven games….hit .304 leading off for AAA.
Negatives: Likely was promoted in September only because he was already on the 40-man roster….had a .699 OPS against lefties at Memphis….was much better with the bases empty in AAA (.312) than if there were runners on, for instance hitting .183 with runners on first….hit .209 when he hit third for the Redbirds….hit .268 before the All-Star Break and .270 after.
Overview: Martinez, while he didn’t the season he had last year when he won a minor league batting title, likely wouldn’t trade 2016 for anything given his first taste of MLB life. There’s no doubt he didn’t embarrass himself at the highest level, even if he didn’t do much more than pinch-hit. The fact that he got two starts with the playoffs hanging in the balance might be a bigger indictment of how the current players like Brandon Moss were going than a vote of confidence for Martinez’s play.
Outlook: You’d think that Martinez would be someone that the club might dispose of after the season. He made his debut, he had a nice outing, but he’s not exactly part of the long term plans. Yet Jeremy Hazelbaker was removed from the roster (and claimed by Arizona) and Jose Martinez is still here. That’s not saying that Martinez is still going to be here when spring training rolls around again but it does seem somewhat interesting that they prioritized him over Hazelbaker. Given their scouting success with Matthew Bowman, perhaps there’s more to Martinez than it would appear.