Detroit Tigers: J.D. Martinez Goes from Zero to Hero


J.D. Martinez went from being a Houston Astros castoff to a Detroit Tigers superstar slugger in almost no time at all.

J.D. Martinez (whom I lovingly refer to as “J-Dizzle Mart-izzle”) is a bit of a Cinderella story.

He was released by the struggling Houston Astros on March 22, 2014 after spending his first three season with the team. In his 899 total at-bats with Houston, he hit .251 with 24 home runs and a .387 slugging percentage. Nothing special.

The Detroit Tigers organization picked him up two days after he was released. He was called back up to the show after hitting 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in just 17 games with the Mud Hens that April.

WATCH: Detroit Tigers’ 10 Longest Home Runs of 2015

In Detroit, he has really come alive.

His numbers since joining the Tigers are beyond what anyone expected. He is hitting .298 with 36 homers and a .526 slugging percentage in his 694 at-bats with the team.

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Oh. He also had a three-homer and six-RBI day Sunday in New York. The last Tiger to have a three-bomb game? Miguel Cabrera (duh) on May 19, 2013 in Texas. reported on J.D.’s monsterous day:

"“It was just one of those days where you take swings and you’re actually hitting the ball how you want to hit it,” Martinez said. “There’s not too many of those days, so you’ve just got to take advantage of them.”"

And take advantage he did.

On the other side of things, his defense in the outfield may not be up to par with the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, but he is holding his own. For J.D. Martinez, however, it’s really all about his bat. He fits in well in the star-studded Tigers lineup and is quickly gaining respect.

At 27 years old, he is now hitting his stride. Batting behind guys like Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Cespedes is any player’s dream, but it is J.D.’s reality. He brings yet another big bat to the heart of the order and makes it that much tougher for opposing pitchers to navigate through it.

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  • His salary currently stands at $3M for the 2015 season, making him a bargain compared to well-established sluggers like V-Mart and Cabrera (both making about five times as much per season). That being said, he will not stay that affordable (she says with major air-quotes) for long.

    Though the Tigers still have two years of team control on J.D. remaining, his salary figures are going to begin rising steadily (especially if his performance level keeps up).

    But the Tigers will be happy to pay arbitration prices for an outfielder with this much thump in his bat. The payroll situation gets a bit murkier if the organization wants to keep him around beyond the 2017 season. They already have $86 million committed to aging veterans Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Anibal Sanchez for the 2018 season (more if they pick up the options on Kinsler and Sanchez).

    For now, though, we get to enjoy watching J.D. play every day at a relatively low salary, and he gets to enjoy playing on a playoff-caliber team. And after a three-homer day, who knows what will be up next for number 28?

    Next: Rajai Davis Flashes His Golden Ticket

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