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Thursday, May 5, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: VICTOR MARTINEZ

Prior to the 2015 fantasy baseball season, this peanut stand was vociferous in his strong opinion that Detroit Tigers DH/first baseman Victor Martinez was as overvalued a player as there was in the game.  Martinez of course was coming off an all-time outlier campaign in 2014 when he somehow hit a career-high 32 home runs at the age of 35 with 103 BRI and a scorching .335 average.  While never questioning the pure hitting ability of Martinez, his power was insanely fluke considering he had not hit so much as 25 home runs since 2007.  Throw in a recent dealing with some serious knee problems and investing in a 36 year old Martinez was silly.  Needless to say Martinez went completely bust as expected in 2015 as he hit .245 with only 11 home runs in 485 at-bats as he once again dealt with knee problems.   As a result it was very easy to write the "stick a fork in him" article and as 2016 fantasy baseball dawned, Martinez was justifiably an afterthought. 
Fast forward to present time and Martinez looks like he is determined to reprise his 2014 campaign as he goes into Wednesday's action with a terrific .345 average to go with 5 home runs in 92 at-bats.  At 37, Martinez is hitting line drives all over the field like he always has done in his career but the power is emerging back again which is the biggest shock.  Now part of the reason Martinez has seen an uptick in power the last few seasons was due to him moving out from behind the plate and into a full-time DH role.  No longer having to catch has freshened Martinez' body and allowed him to concentrate just on hitting which has always been his best trait.  While we won't ever predict even 25 home runs again, Martinez is capable of reaching the 20 mark which is a nice number at his age. 

Looking at the rate stats, Martinez is striking out in just 9.8 percent of his at-bats which is as low as a hitter can get and is an amazing number.  That no doubt helps Martinez hit for the high averages he has always hit for but keep in mind he is being helped a bit this season with a very lucky .343 BABIP.  Even in 2014 when he hit .335, Martinez' BABIP was only slightly lucky at .316.  This means Martinez' average will fall some to around the .315 range but that is still a very impressive number.  Throw in the uptick in power and Martinez seems like he will be a nice help in the CI or UTIL spot for his fantasy baseball owners this season.  As long as he can remain upright, Martinez could sneak in another nice campaign as he won't go away into retirement quietly. 

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