Tigers fans chuckle to themselves whenever they hear announcer Rod Allen proclaim with his special gravitas that Victor Martinez is a “professional hitter.” After watching Victor this season, though, I began to notice that Detroit’s DH seemed to be doing an especially good job not just of putting the ball in play, but of extending his plate appearances, forcing pitchers to display their arsenal for the benefit of Martinez and his teammates. As the chart below shows, few batters are seeing more pitches per plate appearance than Victor this season.
There are a few things to note about this chart. First and most importantly, because the season remains young, the rankings are subject to great fluctuation on a pitch-by-pitch basis. (Click the image to see the latest data.) A second observation is that the American League, and the AL Central in particular, and the Minnesota Twins in even more particular, find strong representation here. Or at least they did when I grabbed that screenshot. Again, probably too early to read too much into the positioning here.
Wherever he stands with respect to the rest of Major League Baseball, Victor’s seeing more pitches than his fellow Tigers. I like to think that’s a small piece of evidence showing that he’s fully embracing the role of designated hitter.