The Detroit Tigers are enjoying yet another great season from a perennial All-Star, career .300 hitter, and proud Venezuelan.
No I'm not talking about Miguel Cabrera, although he does fit the description. I'm not talking about Magglio Ordonez either (he's having a rough year but don't give up on him just yet).
The Tigers are currently sitting with virtually the same record they were sporting last year at the All-Star break. This season has a much more optimistic feel to it though and it is in large part due to the addition of a third Venezuelan star, Victor Martinez.
Dave Dombrowski targeted Martinez in the off-season as someone he could plug into the lineup as protection for the often pitched around Cabrera. What he has provided however, has been so much more.
Martinez has certainly come through in a big way behind Cabrera so far this year (he's batting nearly .500 after a Cabrera walk) but his presence in the clubhouse and influence on young players such as Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila has been immeasurable.
Avila is putting up numbers that resulted in an All-Star nod and while regular playing time is obviously a factor in that, you'd have to think that having a consummate professional and welcoming personality like Martinez to learn from has been a huge help. The same can be said for his influence on Boesch who is enjoying a return to form after a disappointing second half last season.
While Cabrera certainly needs no help with his offense, having another fellow countryman to help keep him focused will hopefully remedy his off-the-field issues.
Any way you look at it, when you can add a switch hitting veteran who can play first base, DH and catcher and has the type of proven track record Martinez provides both on and off the field, you have to say it is $50 million well spent.
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