Víctor Martínez (baseball)
Martínez with the Detroit Tigers
|Detroit Tigers – No. 41|
|Designated hitter / First baseman|
December 23, 1978 |
Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela
|September 10, 2002, for the Cleveland Indians|
(through 2015 season)
|Runs batted in||991|
|Career highlights and awards|
Víctor Jesús Martínez (born December 23, 1978), also known by his nickname "V-Mart", is a Venezuelan professional baseball designated hitter, catcher and first baseman for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB). Martínez has also played in MLB for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland Indians (2002–2009)
Martínez was signed by the Indians as an amateur free agent in 1996. He was named the Indians 2001 and 2002 Minor League Player of the Year (receiving the "Lou Boudreau Award"). After a pair of minor league MVP awards and batting titles in 2001 and 2002, he made his debut with Cleveland as a September call-up on September 10, 2002.
In 2003, Martínez played for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons and the Indians. He finished with a combined .315 batting average, hitting at a .349 clip in August and September with the big league club. Exhibiting knowledge of the strike zone and an ability to make contact, he reduced his strikeout totals and produced a combined .376 on-base percentage. He also drove in 63 runs, hitting .323 with runners in scoring position, and was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game played at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. From 2001 to 2003, the Venezuelan slugger batted a combined .330 with 40 home runs and 194 RBI.
Martínez hit .283 with 23 home runs in 2004 as the Indians starting catcher. He set a record for Indians catchers with 108 RBIs, earned his first All-Star selection, and shared the Silver Slugger honor as the top-hitting American League catcher with Iván Rodríguez. For the first time since the awards began in 1980, there was a tie at one position. On July 16, Martínez also had the best offensive night by an Indians catcher in franchise history, when he hit three home runs, singled twice, drew a walk, and drove in a career-high seven runs in a perfect 5-for-5 game.
In June 2005, Martínez was batting .207, but he came into the season's final weekend batting .382 (96-for-251) after the All-Star break, the most for any Major League player. He finished the season with a .305 average, 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. Beginning in 2006, the Indians occasionally played Martínez at first base. As a catcher in 2006, he allowed 100 stolen bases, the most in Major League Baseball.
In 2007, he hit 25 home runs, had 114 RBIs, more than any other catcher, and finished seventh in American League MVP voting. He made his second AL All-Star team that season. 2008 was an injury-marred season for Víctor, as he played in only 73 games and posted a career-low .278 batting average.
On June 19, 2009 Victor hit his 100th career home run against Rich Harden of the Chicago Cubs. On July 5, Martínez was selected for the third time to represent Cleveland in the 2009 All Star Game. His departure from the Indians after being traded on the last day of July created a public relations problem for the ballclub. The team had scheduled two separate Martínez-related promotional giveaways (bobbleheads on August 1, chest protector backpacks five days later) for dates subsequent to the transaction. Both promotions went off as planned.
Boston Red Sox (2009–2010)
On July 31, 2009, Martínez was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price. Martínez would regularly play between first base and catcher, catching usually for the younger pitchers within the rotation, with some of the veteran starting pitchers opting for Red Sox captain Jason Varitek.
Following the season, the Red Sox exercised his 2010 option for $7.1 million.
On June 28, 2010, Martínez suffered a fractured left thumb, and was placed on the 15-day DL. He finished the 2010 season with a .302 batting average with 20 home runs and 79 runs batted in.
Detroit Tigers (2011–present)
On November 23, 2010, Martínez and the Tigers organization reached an agreement on a four-year $50 million contract. On March 31, 2011, Martínez made his debut for the Tigers as a designated hitter against the New York Yankees. Martínez was used almost exclusively as a designated hitter for the 2011 season, playing only 26 games at catcher and 6 games at first base. He had a slow start to the season, batting .250 in the month of April with two home runs, but he then batted .337 in May and .370 in June. Although his power numbers were down, with only 12 home runs all season, he posted his best career batting average (.330, good for fourth best in the American League) and had his fourth career 100 RBI season (103). He also led the Major Leagues in batting average with runners in scoring position, hitting .394.
Martínez tore his anterior cruciate ligament during off-season training in Lakeland, Florida and missed the entire 2012 season. On March 12, Martínez was placed on the 60-day disabled list. On June 22, owner Mike Ilitch optimistically reported that Martínez's rehab was progressing better than expected, and speculated that he might rejoin the Detroit Tigers in August or September. However, on August 17, athletic trainer Kevin Rand officially announced that Martínez would in fact not return for the 2012 season, and that his rehab would instead target a return in 2013.
Martínez started slowly in 2013. Through the end of June, he was hitting just .232. From July 1 onward, however, he hit at a .367 clip, contributing to a final line of .301, 14 home runs and 83 RBIs. It marked the sixth season that Martínez topped .300, and he also set career highs in hits (182) and at-bats (605).
Entering the 2014 season, new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus indicated that he wanted Martínez to be prepared to catch, particularly during interleague games in a national league ballpark where there is no designated hitter. On April 23, 2014, Victor singled in the ninth inning of a game against the Chicago White Sox for his 1,500th career hit.
On July 6, 2014, Martínez was selected in the player voting to participate in his fifth AL All-Star game, and his first as a Tiger. Martínez did not participate in the All-Star game due to side soreness, and was replaced by teammate Ian Kinsler. In a game against the New York Yankees on August 27, Martínez hit his 26th home run of the 2014 season, establishing a new career high. He hit 25 home runs for the Cleveland Indians in 2007.
Martínez was named the American League Player of the Month for August 2014. Martínez tied for the Major League lead in hits with 41 in the month, along with a .350 batting average in 31 games. Martínez slugged at a .547 clip in August, hitting six home runs and driving in a league-leading 30 runs. He also had 14 multi-hit games and was third in the AL in on-base percentage (.442) thanks to 19 walks.
Martínez finished the 2014 regular season with a .335 batting average, the second best average in the American League, a career-high 32 home runs, 33 doubles, and 103 RBI. He led the major leagues in OPS (.974) and intentional walks (28). Victor led the Tigers with 70 walks, and struck out only 42 times. He became the third player since 1990 to have 30 or more home runs, and 42 or less strikeouts, following Barry Bonds in 2004 and Gary Sheffield in 1992, and the first Tiger to do so since 1901. Martínez was 93-for-276 with two strikes, a .337 average, the second best average since 1914. On November 4, 2014, the BBWAA announced that Martínez was one of the three finalists for the American League MVP Award, along with Michael Brantley and Mike Trout. He finished second to Trout in the voting. On November 6, 2014, it was announced that Martínez won his second Silver Slugger award, as the top-hitting American League designated hitter. Martínez was awarded the Edgar Martínez Award for 2014.
On February 5, 2015, it was announced that Martínez had suffered a torn medial meniscus in his left knee during offseason workouts. Martínez underwent successful surgery on his knee, and was expected to rejoin the team by the start of the regular season. Martínez did start the season, but reaggravated the left knee injury a couple weeks into April and began to struggle at the plate. In a game on May 18, Martínez landed clumsily at first base while running out a ground ball, tweaking the knee again. The Tigers put him on the 15-day Disabled List the next day. At the time, Victor was hitting .216 with just four extra-base hits (3 doubles, 1 home run) in 111 at-bats. He hit particularly poorly from the left side (.141 average in 85 at-bats), being unable to put weight on his back knee without pain. Victor returned to the Tiger lineup on June 19 in a game against the New York Yankees.
On September 23, 2015, Martínez hit his 200th career home run, against Frankie Montas of the Chicago White Sox, becoming the sixth Venezuelan to reach the milestone. The injury-marred 2015 season led to a career-low .245 batting average with his worst-ever left/right splits. For the season, Martinez hit .348 as a right-handed batter, but just .219 as a left-hander.
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- Axisa, Mike (November 12, 2014). "Four years for Victor Martinez makes sense for 'win now' Tigers". CBS Sports. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
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- Schmehl, James (May 20, 2015). "Analysis: Easy to second-guess now, but Tigers waited too long to put Victor Martinez on the DL". MLive. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
- Walker, Ben (June 20, 2015). "A-Rod homers for 3,000th hit, Yankees beat Tigers 7-2". CBS Sports. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
- Zúñiga, Alejandro (September 23, 2015). "V-Mart focused on improving, not 200th HR". MLB. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Víctor Martínez (baseball).|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
|Awards and achievements|
|Indians Minor League Player of the Year
(the Lou Boudreau Award)