JD Martinez and the evaluation of one-dimensional talent

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 26: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a two run homer during the eighth inning of the MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field on July 26, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
JD Martinez is the perfect example of two theories I have.
1, How recency bias is real and it clouds people’s judgments.
2, The inability of accurately measure a player’s value when he’s completely one dimensional. Another example of this is Omar Vizquel, great player, tremendous fielder Smith alike, his added value is not HOF worthy. It doesn’t matter how you get there, just that you do, Omar didn’t.
JD is a great hitter don’t get me wrong, by a big margin he is clearly the best batter available in this Free Agent Class, but there are major flaws in his game.
Looking at his career stats is unfair, given how pedestrian he was as an Astro, it took a move to Detroit and some changes in his approach to become the slugger he now is.
So let’s go back to 2014, his first year with the Tigers.
300/362/574     .274 ISO

134.0 wRAA     .392 wOBA     148 wRC+     14.6 WAR

Tremendous line, 2nd best SLG% during that stretch. His numbers are great correct, can compete with anyone not named Trout, then why does he rank 36th among position players during that span in WAR.
-11.4 Base Running
-18.9 Fielding

-23.9 Positional Adjustments.

Hence -42.8 Defense.

Let me give you two comparisons to JD, Todd Frazier, and Edwin Encarnacion, I’m out of my mind right or am i.Todd Frazier

243/333/464     .221 ISO
46.8 wRAA     .338 wOBA     113 wRC+     14.8 WAR

How can he have basically the same WAR over that stretch on a significantly worst batting line?


2.9 Base Running
13.8 Fielding
3.3 Positional Adjustment

Hence 17.1 Defense

Edwin Encarnacion

266/365/533.    .267 ISO
133.2 wRAA     .381 wOBA.    141 wRC+     14.5 WAR

Very similar batting line with JD, lower average, higher BB%, overall value also gets hurt for the same reason

-12.1 Base Running
-1.9 Fielding
-55.0 Positional Adjustment

Todd is now a free agent, turning 32 in a month and is expected to get a 33/3 contract or something around that.

Edwin was a free agent a year ago as a 34-year-old and saw his market plummet, eventually settling for a 3-year deal worth 60, plus 5 mil buyout on a 4th-year option worth 25.

Although this should be implied I feel obligated to say, it’s obvious Frazier is not more valuable than Martinez, JD”s skill set as a hitter if used properly (DH) can be huge.

What i am trying to state here is the following, over the last 4 years, JD has been one of the best hitters in baseball, but because of his poor baserunning and below average glove his value is just not what you’d expect from a player with his hitting capabilities.

Proof of that, his overall value, 14.6 WAR is comparable to players like Todd Frazier and Edwin Encarnacion who got or will get significantly less money on the open market, due to misguided perception.

Looking at his hitting profile, age and the projections, a proper contract for JD is something around 100/5, same yearly average as Edwin a couple of extra years as he is only 30 as a Designated Hitter.

Maybe push it up to 90 but over 4, trying to avoid a fifth year, any talk about Boras wanting 7 years, that’s insane any halfway smart GM would refuse to do it.

Think about it, neither can play the field, very good hitters, statistics show they are very similar, taking age out of the equation, why should JD Martinez get a higher yearly average than Edwin Encarnacion, the answer is he really shouldn’t, and if he does is due to recency bias.

As always it is my pleasure, feel free to comment, suggest and whatever.


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  1. Todd Frazier at 8.5 million dollars per year is a bargain - Pro Sports Fandom

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