2017 Toronto Blue Jays Season Review: Russell Martin

 Montreal native Russell Martin had an injury riddled 2017 campaign. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Montreal native Russell Martin had an injury riddled 2017 campaign. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Emily @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays from Away

Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.

Russell Martin lost a lot of playing time due to injury this season. He hadn't been on the disabled list since signing with the Blue Jays, but was reduced to a career-low 365 plate appearances as a result of two trips to the disabled list. Martin’s injuries, along with a slew of poor-hitting backup catchers, led to a new team record with six catchers used in one season (Jarrod Saltalamacchia started the season as the backup; Luke Maile, Mike Ohlman, Raffy Lopez and Miguel Montero would follow).

Martin set another team record – the longest hitless streak to start a season - when he went 0-for-20 over the first seven games. Despite that, he still got on base, thanks to six walks in his first four games. He hit three home runs and closed out April with a .219/.367/.391 slash line. He hit the disabled list for 11 days in May due to an irritated nerve in his shoulder, but went on a hot streak when he returned. From the May 20 through to the end of the month, there was only one game in which he didn’t get a hit. On May 29, he went 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, and a home run, in what was probably his best offensive game of the season. Though May was an abbreviated month, Martin was at his best, hitting .277/.414/.426 with two home runs.

June was the only month in which Martin walked more than he struck out (15 to 12), and he picked up another pair of home runs despite batting .172. He’d missed the first four games of the month with neck soreness, but didn’t go on the DL. He bashed four homers in July, a month which included another six-game hit streak. He slashed .241/.326/.405 but also struck out a lot, including an eight-game span which saw him take 13 Ks.

In August, Martin was injured again. He left the game on the August 11 with a strained oblique, and was officially placed on the disabled list the next day. He’d gone 5-for-25 up to that point, with 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. He returned exactly a month later, hit .206/.250/.441 through the end of September, and added another home run to bring his season total to 13.

His slash line for the full year was .221/.343/.388 in 91 games. He walked 50 times, at a rate of 13.7%, just 0.1% off of his career high with the Dodgers in 2008. With 83 strikeouts, his K rate was 22.7%, and his BB/K was 0.6 - his best mark since joining the Blue Jays. Even with missed time, Martin was worth 1.5 WAR by Baseball Reference, putting him fourth among Jays position players.

Martin played 10 games (starting nine) at third base this season. He totalled 77 innings, and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at the position. He made three errors in 683 2/3 innings as catcher, for a .996 fielding percentage. Martin caught 12 of 60 base stealers (20%). He also allowed three passed balls, and partook in three double plays. In addition, Martin surpassed a few career milestones – he took his 5,000th career at-bat in May, and played his 1,500th game in July. He is only the fifth Canadian major-leaguer to accomplish both.

Contract Status:

Martin is signed through the end of 2019. He will make $20 million this coming season.

Regular Season Grades:

Jay Blue: C+

Emily: C+

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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!

Emily

Emily is a Communications student who grew up with a Roy Halladay poster on the back of her door. A baseball history nerd, she played softball for nine years and changes her favourite Blue Jay on a regular basis. She fondly remembers going to her first Jays game at age six with her father, and spending the whole time staring at the elevators going up the CN Tower.