Flying Tigers: Victor Martinez, Professional Hitter


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.

pitches per plate appearance

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.


Flying Tigers: Actually Mad Max – 4/29
Flying Tigers: Waiting for Takeoff – 4/28


9 thoughts on “Flying Tigers: Victor Martinez, Professional Hitter

  1. I also saw on Baseball-Reference yesterday (doing research for a different post) that Martinez has posted a 16.4 AB/K ratio so far this season. So, basically, he strikes out about once every four games. He’s just so solid.

    Nice work.

    • Victor’s doing a lot of things– like hit home runs!– more often than he’s striking out. He really is the perfect complement for cold weather/early season Cabrera right now, and it’s so enjoyable to watch.

      Thanks as always for dropping by.

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  4. “What he’s doing shouldn’t be possible.”

    After I highlighted a small component of what was starting to look like another nice season for Victor Martinez, above, back in early May, Victor went ahead and, at age thirty-five, had himself a career year.

    FanGraphs took notice today, calling Martinez “one of a kind” and “the best hitter in baseball this season.” Their post is worth reading and, I think, easy to read. At the end of it, the author summarizes his findings as follows (with slight modification for clarity):

    Here are the things that make Victor Martinez one of a kind:
    •Lowest strikeout rate in baseball
    •Only player in baseball to walk more than he strikes out
    •Highest contact rate on pitches outside the strike zone in baseball by five percentage points
    •Totally unprecedented combination of elite contact on pitches outside the strike zone and hitting power
    •More home runs on low pitches than anyone in baseball

    The full article, with illustrations and better explanations, is here:

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