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Russ Martin’s Selectivity

Most teams have played eight or nine games at this point, so the numbers are still essentially meaningless. However, there are still interesting statistical curiosities we can look at. Russell Martin‘s ridiculous bat control this season, for instance.

Martin has seen 117 pitches in 2010. He has swung and missed just twice, for a swinging strike rate of just 1.7 percent, compared with a league average 8.2 percent. The main reason he’s not missing pitches? He’s not swinging at anything outside the strike zone.

His O-Swing percentage is a ridiculous 4.4 percent. The league average is 25.6 percent, and the next lowest O-Swing percentage is Colby Rasmus at 9.4 percent. Put simply, if you’re not pounding the zone, Martin is keeping the bat on his shoulder. Because of his early season discipline, he’s only swung the bat in a quarter of the pitches he’s been thrown, which has led to eight walks in 29 trips to the plate.

Martin’s always been a pretty patient hitter, but never to this extreme. In the first week of the season, he’s essentially been the catching version of Tony Gwynn. His eye for the zone has been off the charts good, and it’s the main reason he’s off to such a good start in 2010.

Don’t bet on it continuing, of course. Martin had over 2,300 plate appearances coming into the season, and those are a much better indicator of his abilities than the 30 he’s had so far this year. But, for at least a week, he’s shown how a patient approach at the plate can pay off in a big way. The only-swing-at-strikes philosophy can work for anyone, not just big lumbering power hitters.