Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Russell Martin: Arbitration

The Yankees catcher Russell Martin made 4 million dollars in 2011 while posting a 1.3 WAR, a 3076 WASP, close to the Halladay Standard. Over the past 3 years, he has averaged a 1.33 WAR, worth around 4 million dollars. In 2011: Martin had a .324 OBP, 92 OPS +, and 1.704 O4S. He did this despite having a .252 BABIP, much lower than his career average of .295. For Martin, there really is a story of two careers. His first three years, he had a .311 BABIP, .373 OBP, OPS + of 109 and .554 offensive winning percentage (averaging a WAR of 3.33). His last 3 years, he has a BABIP of just .275, .341 OBP, OPS + of 88, and .434 offensive winning percentage. There are two ways to look at this I believe, so before looking at some of his other metrics I will lay out two possible theories: 1. Martin, Catching in 142 games a year for 3 years, simply wore down, like we have seen with Joe Mauer (and as I argued, will happen to Alex Avila if the Tigers don't change how they manage him, and with the signing of Gerald Laird as the backup, I don't have much hope) or 2. Martin has just been unlucky with BABIP over the past 3 years. If 1 is true, then it is time to run away from Martin as fast as you can before his salary increases, but if 2 is true, then Martin may be due for a breakout and may actually be undervalued. In the first 3 years of his career, he had a 3.9 Pit/PA, while it dropped to 3.81 Pit/PA in the last 3 years. So he went from above average to about average, a relatively dramatic shift in Pit/PA. He walked 11.6% of the time and homered 2.4% of the time in his first 3 years. Over the last 3 years, he has homered .3 % less and walked .1 % less, hardly dramatic changes. His GB/FB ratio over the last 3 years has been .98, and hit line drives 19% of the time, while he actually had more groundballs and less line drives his first 3 years. So it would appear that Martin is somewhere in between his first 3 seasons and his last 3 seasons. That is, he is better than he has been over the last 3 years, but not quite as good as he was when he first broke into the majors. Why this happens to be is hard to say, and could have several explanations. With that in mind, he is probably worth around 4 million dollars, and perhaps a little more. He will probably get more than this in arbitration, and even though the Yankees are by far the most inefficient team in baseball, they should try to move him.

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