Mariners Analysis: Leonys Martin Ties Career High with 8th Homer
The Mariners are getting more than they bargained for this season out of their center fielder.
Leonys Martin launched his 8th home run of the season in the Seattle Mariners 4-0 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. That number is impressive, but what makes it newsworthy is the fact that Martin tied his career high for home runs in a single season today…and it’s only May!
The Mariners acquired the 28-year-old center fielder from the Texas Rangers this past offseason. Seattle sent Tom Wilhelmsen, James Jones and Patrick Kivlehan to the Rangers in exchange for Martin and Anthony Bass.
Jerry Dipoto targeted Martin largely due to his defensive prowess, and the work he’s doing with the lumber this season has been surprising to say the least. Martin is hitting .231 with 8 home runs and 17 RBI across 40 games with the Mariners in 2016. He has registered a .315 on base percentage and slugged .454 through 130 at bats. Martin is a gifted base stealer, and he has swiped 7 bases in 10 attempts so far this year.
The Cuban born player has been particularly hot this week, slashing .364/.483/.818 through his last 22 at bats. Martin has homered 3 times while driving in 5 runs and scoring 6 times. Most intriguing of all; he has nursed 6 free passes against 4 strikeouts this week. Martin is not known as a patient hitter, so his recent tendency to work the count has been very encouraging.
Martin has also been doing a fantastic job patrolling center field for the Mariners. He has posted a .990 fielding percentage while tallying 5 outfield assists across 358 innings. Martin has registered 0.6 defensive wins above replacement. He is clearly playing the best center field for the Mariners since Franklin Gutierrez in the late 2000’s.
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This kind of play with the glove was expected from Martin, but his production at the plate has caught many by surprise. Through his first 429 games in the big leagues, Martin slashed .255/.305/.361 with 20 home runs and 120 RBI. He averaged 7 home runs and 38 RBI per season since becoming a full time player with the Rangers in 2013.
Obviously, with Martin tying his career high for homers in a season today, it’s fair to project he will set a new high water mark for himself in the power department this season with the Mariners. He also has a great opportunity to drive in more than 49 runs to set a new career high. It’s rare to see a player post significantly better offensive numbers after making the move to Seattle, but M’s fans are definitely not complaining right now.
Next: Mariners Beat Reds, Clinch 7th Road Series
Many fans were skeptical of the Mariners trading for Leonys Martin, but Dipoto looks pretty smart right about now. Martin is a key reason why the bottom of the M’s lineup has been so productive this season, and hopefully he will continue to cause problems for opposing pitchers as the season progresses.