Exit Interview 2017: Jose Martinez

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Jose Martinez

Season stats: 106 G, 307 PA, 47 R, 13 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 4 SB, 32 BB, 60 K, .309/.379/.518, 134 OPS+, 1.4 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 10, Goat 1

Overall grade: A

Positives: Got his first chance to play (almost) an entire season in the bigs and made the most of it….outplayed Tommy Pham in the spring….also added first base to his repertoire, having more plate appearances there than anywhere else….had a .902 OPS away from Busch Stadium….hit .333 with a .989 OPS in the second half….hit .353 with four homers in September….was solid as a pinch-hitter with a .462/.563/.769 line in 32 plate appearances….hit .310 on the first pitch….had a 1.326 OPS when the at bat ended with him ahead….seven of his 14 homers came with one out….had a 1.049 OPS in high leverage situations….hit .310 against starters and .308 against relievers….hit .316 against the Pirates….three of his home runs came against the Brewers, more than against any other team.

Negatives: Hit .282 against righties, a significant drop from the .407 he hit against lefties….hit .233 when playing right field….had a .594 OPS with two strikes on him….hit .241 with two outs….eight of his home runs were solo shots….hit .267 with runners in scoring position….had a .718 OPS with two outs and RISP….had a .528 OPS when he saw a pitcher for the third time in a game….had a .222 average against the Cubs….may have played a lot of first base but still has a lot to learn defensively there.

Overview: I couldn’t figure out why the Cardinals were keeping Martinez on the roster after last season.  Sure, it was nice that he came up and made his major league debut and the small sample of work was pretty effective, but when you are losing players like Allen Cordoba to the Padres because you are keeping Martinez, it looked like the club was really overvaluing him.  Turns out, the professional folks know a bit more about player evaluation than I do.  Who knew?

Martinez proved that his minor league track record of being able to hit was no fluke and also added some power to his game.  The fourteen homers he hit this year was a total well above anything he’d done before in the minors.  Put that all together and he was a great fourth outfielder/backup first baseman for a team that was solid at all those positions.  Given that didn’t necessarily describe the 2017 Cardinals, he got a lot more starting time than he maybe should have, but you couldn’t argue with the results.

Outlook: The offseason is supposed to bring a big bat that likely will play the outfield, but Martinez seems more secure than Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty.  Having someone like Martinez to come off the bench in a key spot, to play some outfield, to spell at first base, and basically keep hitting no matter what is a valuable asset to a contending club.  Martinez is likely going to be depth next year but nobody is going to question when he’s on the roster.

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