The Detroit Tigers continued their aggressive offseason approach today by adding Victor Martinez to their roster for a reported $50 million over four years.
Martinez is obviously a huge upgrade for the Tigers over Gerald Laird and Alex Avila, although Avila will have a chance to approach 300 at-bats again in 2011 with Martinez sure to see some time at DH. The real question is whether the move to Detroit upgrades Martinez’s fantasy value in 2011.
My first thought was an assumption that Martinez probably had better numbers in games where he was a DH or first baseman as opposed to games he caught. However, Martinez surprisingly has only 119 at-bats as a DH with a .235 career average and holds a .299 average as a catcher.
Clearly the DH sample size is far too small to mean anything going forward, but the solid numbers as a catcher mean the extra time he will see at DH is probably not going to boost his production significantly if at all.
The next thing to consider is ballpark. Fenway Park in Boston is generally considered to be a better park for hitters than Detroit’s Comerica Park, and Martinez’s splits are consistent with that line of thinking.
In just under 400 career Fenway at-bats, Martinez owns a .322 average and .900 OPS, and in 169 at-bats at Comerica he has a .225 average and .671 OPS.
Again, both sample sizes are too small to allow those splits to say anything definitive (500 at-bats usually represents a large enough sample size for batting average and OPS), but the difference in the numbers is fairly substantial.
It seems obvious that the change of ballpark will depress Martinez’s offensive numbers to some degree.
The final consideration is the new lineup....