It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare J.D. Martinez's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 19 overall by Kyle Bishop, and No. 46 by Harris Yudin.
Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: J.D. Martinez
Kyle Bishop's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 19
Oh, Harris. Why must we always fight like this?
With Cruz, I kinda get it. Not easy to trust a guy entering his age-37 season to keep being a monster. What’s your beef with Just Dongs? Since his 2014 breakout, Martinez has hit .299/.357/.540. He’s 20th in home runs during that time despite only logging 600 plate appearances once. Maybe that’s what gives you pause. Fair, but it’s not like we’re talking about an injury-prone guy here…unlike Giancarlo Stanton, who you’ve ranked 10 spots higher. Martinez didn’t have a full complement of plate appearances in 2014 because he had to hit his way into the lineup that year. He was also a beast after returning from the elbow injury last year (.332/.393/.554, 10 HR in 232 PA) which is a damn sight better than ya boy A.J. Pollock did in returning from injury. Yet you’ve ranked him even higher than Stanton. And higher still in your rankings is George Springer, who hasn’t had a season as good as any of those guys yet (I still got mad love for George, but I digress).
We got to see what a full season of Martinez looks like in 2015, and the results were splendiferous: .282-93-38-102-3. That average was actually his worst of the last three years; he posted marks over .300 each of the other two seasons. The only guy with a higher Hard% than him since 2014 is retired now. He’s been among the best in exit velocity and barreled balls. You get the idea – the guy just flat-out crushes the ball, much like I am crushing this debate. Boosh and/or ka-kow!
Harris Yudin's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 46
Even ignoring Martinez’s three seasons with the Astros and giving him the benefit of the doubt that he made the necessary adjustments upon his arrival in Detroit, there are still concerns surrounding the 29-year-old.
As you mentioned, in three seasons with the Tigers, Martinez has seen 600 plate appearances just once. In that 2015 campaign, while his power numbers were unusually impressive (more on that soon), he also suffered his lowest OPS, highest strikeout rate and worst BABIP of his short tenure in the Motor City.
Clearly, 2015 was an outlier, power-wise. His 38 homers were accompanied by an uncharacteristically high fly ball rate (43.5%). His next highest mark is 36.8% in 2014, and his 36.2% rate in 2016 indicates that that is where he will likely remain going forward. In his two injury-shortened seasons of ’14 and ’16, he smacked 23 and 22 long balls, respectively. Prorated over a full season, those numbers equate to roughly 30 each. So that’s what he is— a 30-homer player IF he can stay on the field. Somewhere in the 25 range is more feasible, though.
Don’t get me wrong— I love Martinez, and I think there’s a good chance he makes somewhat of a jump in my next set of rankings. But the fact of the matter is that there remains a ton of power to be had among outfielders in later rounds, and he just doesn’t stand out among the best. Giancarlo Stanton is a risk, but possesses obvious 40-homer power (or more), while A.J. Pollock and George Springer contribute much more heavily in runs and steals.
I have a hard time justifying a top-25 ranking for a 29-year-old, with one full major league season under his belt, who has never managed elite power numbers and a strong batting average in the same year.