Player Profile: Russell Martin

Russell Martin, C
Born: February 15, 1983
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 205 lbs.

Career statistics:

2006 23 LAD 121 117 10 65 .282 .355 .792
2007 24 LAD 151 158 19 87 .293 .374 .843
2008 25 LAD 155 155 13 69 .280 .385 .781
2009 26 LAD 143 126 7 53 .250 .352 .680
2010 27 LAD 97 82 5 26 .248 .347 .679
2011 28 NYY 125 99 18 65 .237 .324 .732
2012 29 NYY 133 89 21 53 .211 .311 .713
7 Yrs 925 826 93 418 .260 .352 .751


Scouting report from Pirates Prospects:
Martin was one of the better catchers in baseball in his first three seasons, playing very well on both sides of the ball.  He had outstanding plate discipline throughout his minor league career and most of his major league career.  After those first three seasons, though, his hitting dropped off significantly and he struggled during his last two seasons in Los Angeles, leading to a non-tender.  He signed with the Yankees and continued to struggle at the plate, with his plate discipline also dropping off, but he hit with more power than previously.  For his career he’s had a fairly strong platoon split, posting an OPS of .830 against LHPs and .725 against RHPs.  He’s a good defensive catcher, possibly one of the best in baseball if you credit the pitch-framing study published by Baseball Prospectus, which showed Martin to be excellent.  For his career he’s thrown out 30% of opposing base stealers.”

Bill James’ 2013 projections:
.242 batting average, 16 HR, 64 RBI in 524 plate appearances

ZiPS 2013 projections:
.238 batting average, 12 HR, 46 RBI in 466 plate appearances

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Pirates agree to terms with Russell Martin

According to various sources, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with free agent catcher Russell Martin. Ken Rosenthal was the first to break the news on Thursday night:


It appears that the contract will be for two years and worth $17 million. The deal should be finalized on Friday.

Here’s a look at Martin’s career offensive numbers:

Year Age Tm G H HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Awards
2006 23 LAD 121 117 10 65 .282 .355 .436 .792 RoY-9
2007 24 LAD 151 158 19 87 .293 .374 .469 .843 AS,GG,SS
2008 25 LAD 155 155 13 69 .280 .385 .396 .781 AS
2009 26 LAD 143 126 7 53 .250 .352 .329 .680
2010 27 LAD 97 82 5 26 .248 .347 .332 .679
2011 28 NYY 125 99 18 65 .237 .324 .408 .732 AS
2012 29 NYY 133 89 21 53 .211 .311 .403 .713
7 Yrs 925 826 93 418 .260 .352 .399 .751
162 Game Avg. 162 145 16 73 .260 .352 .399 .751

Bill James projects him to hit .242 with 16 home runs next season.

He’s been to the All-Star Game three times, and has also won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He brings experience and leadership to Pittsburgh as well.

While the price tag was a little high, Martin is definitely an upgrade over Barajas. We were skeptical at first, but this excited us a little bit:

This is where each of Martin’s 2012 home runs would have landed at PNC Park. The large left field would be expected to take away some of Martin’s power, but it looks like about 18 of his 21 bombs would have cleared the fences.

He also had an extremely low batting average on balls in play last season, which means that his average might climb a bit. Still, a .211 batting average is concerning and certainly not what the Pirates need.

It was refreshing to hear that Martin was intrigued by Bucs (enough so that he wanted to sign here). Neil Walker mentioned at the end of the year that they needed more veteran leadership, and Martin, who already has seven years under his belt, seems to be a good addition for the clubhouse.

This speaks volumes to the development of Tony Sanchez; is he really that far off? He’s certainly had a disappointing minor league career to date, but he was definitely a candidate to back up Michael McKenry. Plus it’s a two-year deal, so they must not have much faith in him at all. Here’s what Sanchez had to say:


Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib brings up a reasonable point: Russell Martin’s deal could easily turn out to be similar to Matt Morris‘. He says, “It’s far clearer now than it was with Littlefield in 2007 that they’re in huge trouble, hanging by a thread. And right along with it comes a monster deal — by Pittsburgh standards — for a light-hitting catcher on the decline… But let’s not pretend this transaction was anything other than what it was: A desperation move.”

Finally, Neal Huntington has been here in Pittsburgh since 2007. He’s honestly done nothing but lose; plenty of fans want him gone. Has he improved the state of the franchise a bit? Sure – flocks of people went through the turnstiles at PNC last season, season ticket sales are up, and some money is definitely flying in (we’re sure Nutting loves that). NH is fighting for his job… but he’s playing with fire. This signing could be a domino effect for the Bucs – how much more cash do they have to spend? Could Joel Hanrahan‘s career as a Pirate be over? We’ll know soon enough, as the Winter Meetings take place next week. Can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.

Go Bucs

Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons