TTPOTD Leonys Martin, CF



Delicious to have a geniuine player controversy already.  When's the last time we had a 40-comment firefight on a Dr. D player evaluation?!  Told you this DiPoto guy would pay off :- )

M'man Cool Papa Bell is having way too much fun in the Shout Box and Comments.  He's pointing out that it's tough to trade "a setup reliever" for "three years of "a proven, starting major league regular."


If that is what we are getting -- a center fielder who can bat 80-90 OPS+ and win a Gold Glove in center field -- then the trade is a good one, no argument.  Says here that's NOT what the Mariners are getting, not by a long shot.

1.  Boog Powell says that not even DiPoto is confident the Mariners are getting such.

2.  The Rangers are most certainly confident that there is no way Martin delivers 8+ WAR over the next three years.

3.  Here's BaseballHQ *before* Martin's 2015, in which he went on to bat the same 55 OPS+ that Mike Zunino just did.  This was after 2014, when Martin managed 274/325/364 and 4.0 runs per 27 outs:


Sophomore campaign looked like a decent repeat, though several indicators suggest change is on the way: xBA continued its sharp decline, SBO fell to career low, and he remained futile vs. LHP. 2nd half contact gains offer some hope, and he still owns elite speed, but a third straight year of 30+ SB is far from a lock. 


You realize that not even defensive specialist Mike Zunino was able to remain in a major league lineup over 350 AB's, hitting like Leonys Martin just did over 310 AB's.  And the concern for both is that they are headed South from here.

Leonys Martin is a plus center fielder, maybe even a dominating one - as Mike Zunino is a plus catcher, maybe even a dominating one.  The deal stands or falls with Martin's ability to hit .270/.320/.370, as he did in 2013-14 IN TEXAS.  If Martin can bat 90 OPS+ against righties, be a platoon defender, the deal is fine.  Says here that he will not.

But ... fulltime player?  Martin, with that swing, is going to hit lefties well enough to play 150 games?  He had a 4:33 EYE against them last year, after four years of experience.


Personally I (and the people who gave him an ML chance) think that James Jones could become Leonys Martin -- a platoon defensive glove, pinch-runner, and 60-70 OPS hitter -- given a fair chance and some good coaching.  But will cheerfully admit that the evidence came in on the other side yesterday :- )


That's Dr. D's take:  that Leonys Martin is odds-against to even hold on to a platoon role, and that therefore this guy is a placeholder for Boog Powell.  Or for ANYbody who actually IS a proven starting major league center fielder.

But coming up in the comments:  an argument (from the Think Tank) that Leonys Martin simply had a rough season in 2014.  Will look forward to it with relish.


Dr D




The only concrete info provided is that little snippet from BaseballHQ and his eye ratio against lefties last season. I can't respond to the BaseballHQ remark because I don't know what xBA and SBO are. As for his platoon splits, he was poor against lefties in 2013 and 2014 yet he was a legit full time player then. Also, large platoon splits can be leveraged.

"1.  Boog Powell says that not even DiPoto is confident the Mariners are getting such."

I don't get this. Powell was acquired before Martin and it was Karns who was the key to that deal. If anything getting Martin means Dipoto isn't expecting to rely on Powell.

"2.  The Rangers are most certainly confident that there is no way Martin delivers 8+ WAR over the next three years. "

And the M's are confident he will produce, that's why trades get made. I don't see why the M's opinion is worth less than the Rangers'.


But clearly it was less than what they think they have at the plate with DeShields.  Can't blame them based on last year.

I for one am pretty optimistic about the Aoki signing.  He and Marte at the top of the order should be MUCH better than last year.  (When we were 24th in MLB in on base percentage in both the first and second spots in the order, even though much of the second spot was filled with respectable performance by Seager.)  

But left unsolved is who plays center on the days Martin doesn' matter how many days that turns out to be.  That would require a fifth outfielder in addition to Cruz--seems kind of top heavy.  

And CPB: Baseball HQ is the rosetta stone of baseball.  Next year's edition is due out in a matter of days.  :)


The argument against Mike Zunino's 2016 season is his 2015 season.  Same for Martin.

Zunino was overmatched/overwhelmed, and the team that worked with him day-in day-out pulled the plug because of its own "hopeless" evaluation.

I'm wide open to an argument that Zunino/Martin will be fine in 2016.  Would like to see the case positively constructed, though.


Martin has already had two strong seasons and is still in his prime so expecting a league average player is perfectly reasonable. But we've already been through this before. Several years ago after Hanley Ramirez had a dismal season, you sliced-and-diced his stats in order to prove conclusively that he was finished as a quality major leaguer. I argued that his poor performance was due to injury so if he healed up all of his numbers would rebound. After the Marlins traded him away (which I guess means they considered him "hopeless") he performed great again and scored a fat contract in free agency.

As for the the Zunino comparison, he isn't in the same boat as Martin. Zunino has never had as good a season as Martin did in '13 and '14 and he doesn't have health as an excuse for his poor hitting.


In '14, Zunino OPS+ed 88 with 22 homeruns.  Martin was at 92 with 7 HR's.  Zunino's dWAR was .3 to Martin's 2.2, but that doesn't account for Zunino's pitch framing abilities.  According to he was the 2nd best in all of baseball that year and saved about 24 runs.  Zunino's '14 was better than Martin's. 


... will take your word for it.  As to the gist of it.  I wouldn't have said after 2011 he was done as a 'quality' major leaguer but probably did predict him to be a league-average bat at SS who was slowing way down in the field - so not a trade target.

But it's interesting that you recall the debate vividly; now I get a taste of what Bill James feels like when 50 people a day quote his Abstracts and he has no idea what he said.  :- )


Martin isn't hopeless by any stretch.  Again, I give Martin a significant (30, maybe 40%) chance of being a nice contributor next year.  DiPoto, I would guess, gives him an 80% or 90% chance.


For all itents and purposes this deal was Wilhelmson/Kivlehan for Martin/Bass.

Personally I'm not sweating two years of the Bartender, and the only chance for regret here stands firmly on Kiv's shoulders.

Kid's got a great story, and has performed pretty well outside of his first year in AAA, but he will be a late bloomer with fewer prime years than other guys, IF he pulls it all together.


I really liked and appreciated Moe's comment on the last post thread about Kivvy's month-to-month performance in AAA. Really appears as if he'd figured it out, from those numbers.

Key quote:

"He was terrible in May (.639).  Less terrible in June (.717)  But in every other month he was over .800.  Over his last 50 games he hit .288 with 8 HR's. "

"After May, his eye improved each month (until just 31 PA's in Sept).  Over his last 90 days he was .313-.353-.545"

"He did that starting at 5 positions.  Check out his highlights:  He has easy power and it goes to RF, too."


That Martin was a little dinged up*, and that he hit into some bad luck.  That is apparently the best argument available on Martin's rebound.

And by no means is it an unreasonable argument.  The Rangers, who are as familiar with him as we are with (say) Franklin Gutierrez, didn't buy it.  Neither do I.  But...

But I allow a good 30-40% chance that Martin will OPS 80 in Safeco if platooned, and a 10% chance that he'll be playable even against LHP's.  Not trying to suppress the case-for.


*A hamate bone is not exactly a "ding" but the basic problem for Leonydas is not his ISO, which did not fall off in 2015.  It's his K rate as a legs player.


Our Boog Powell has a career CF MiLB RF/9 of 2.52.  Martin's in 2.85.

Moving away from Texas, Martin's bat gets decidedly less semi-impressive (but who's doesn't?).  He's .271-.318-.378 at the launching pad and .238-.292-.344 everywhere else!  Eeek!

But Martin in Safeco (79 career PA's) is .296-.320-.437.

Go figure.


the same reaction about Cruz's home/away stats in Texas, and it turned out I was WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Makes me think there's a lot more going on with "home/away" than just park sizes.

Anyhoo, not trying to say I disagree, or that you're wrong. Just that it seems like comfort has a lot to do with performance. That's just speculation, though.


Nothing cogent to offer on the subject at hand, as I've said my piece(-s), and it appears to me the entire discussion has been quite complete.

Re: the lineup etc., I just watched the short interview video snippets on the MLB At Bat app, and he says they're done with position players except at 1B, and possibly a utiliy infielder, although I really really liked O'Malley in that role, boo hoo. JeDi also said Cruz is the DH, Aoki the LFer (NOT RFer), Smith/Guti the 2-headed RFer (NOT LFer). Said that moving forward, Priority 1 was Kuma, and 2, the pen.

Aoki joked that one of the clauses in the contract was a guarantee that the M's would re-sign Kuma, that they're good friends, always eat out together when their teams meet up.

Lineup's apparently looking like this:


2-Marte-SS (JeDi actually mentioned this, it's not my speculation)





7-THE UNKNOWN 1Bman???



I would suggest that Robertson or Powell would, as it stands now, be the 5th OFer/backup CFer/sometime CF platoon partner. It appears JeDi views Martin as a mostly everyday player.

I must say, the guy HAS lengthened the lineup, improved depth, and improved OF defense, and added team speed, as he said he would at the outset of his M'sHood, even if I (we) don't necessarily like all the ways he's done so.

While I wouldn't care to speculate on the relief corps makeup at this point, it appears our starters will be:


Kuma/2nd-Tier Good Starter Who Would Move to the 4-Spot, Perhaps




...and our position players at this time are:









The Unknown 1Bman



O'Malley/The Unknown Utility Guy

Robertson/Alternate Joneser

It is looking like Clevenger's versatility (ability to play backup 1B) will allow that last roster spot to be a Jones-type specialist--esp. if the utility guy can also play 1B, as well as 3B/SS/2B like O'Malley--who I'll bet can also handle 1B if need be, and can also be a backup OFer if they wish, at times.

So, yeah, disgruntled as I am and many of you appear to be, that still looks pretty dang decent so far.


I just read the full quote on "Cruz at DH," and the hardworking MLB vid-editing elves left out the first part (OR, I listened dis-carefully--always a possibility): "Nelson is going to play right field, he's going to DH."

The full quote:

"We're going to rotate the outfield. The one thing for certain is that Nori will play regularly. Franklin will get his at-bats against left-handed pitching, and Seth Smith will get his versus right, but we will use the two corners and the DH role as an opportunity to make sure that all those players are getting their playing time. Nelson is going to play RF, he's going to DH. Seth and Franklin will split RF on days where Nelson doesn't play, and will also play left on days that maybe Nori slides into center versus a tough lefty to give Leonys a day off."

Hmmm. Aoki as backup CFer???

Re: Montero/Wilkins:

"Jesus Montero, he's done enough at the AAA level to warrant a full-time look. Now it's up to us to figure out how to pair someone with him or upgrade the position. There's not much mre he can do in the minor leagues. It's his time to show what he can do as a big leaguer whether it is here or elsewhere."

"Piccking up Andy Wilkins--he has proven his ability in AAA and gives us a nice two-optioned player who has upper-level experience who could pair with Jesus if the season started today. Our goal between today and Opening Day is to add to that and create a situation where those guys become part of a solution instead of a singular situation."

My translation is that he won't go after a full-time 1Bman, and that it's likely Montero will be traded. Possibly Wilkins, as well, but it looks as though JeDi likes Wilkins as AAA depth due to his remaining option year--which, we may recall, Montero doesn't have.

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