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Victor Martinez and the < 1 Club

Part of my daily routine involves checking the league leaders page here and sorting by various stats. In doing so this morning I found that there are currently four players, with enough PA to qualify for the leaderboard, who are yet to hit a home run.

Juan Pierre, Julio Lugo, and Jason Bartlett are not necessarily surprising members of the club but, as the title of this post suggests, the fourth member is Victor Martinez. While not a power threat of the Albert Pujols or Ryan Howard ilk, he has hit 16-25 home runs each of the last four years with a steadily increasing OPS of .851-.879 in that span.

Through 54 games this year he has 0 home runs, a .333 SLG, and a .665 OPS. Granted he is injured right now but Indians fans might want to hope the lower numbers are a result of poor health rather than a shift in performance. It’s still too early and his updated projection may not have changed too drastically however something is definitely up.

His flyball percentage of 38.2% last year currently sits at 29.2%. He also has a BABIP of .314 so it is not as if he has been extremely unlucky. His walk and strikeout rates have curiously decreased as well. Plate discipline stats look very similar across the board with the exception of pitches swung at outside the zone. He’s swinging at 29.83% of those OOZ pitches—up from 23.76% last year—yet making essentially the same 76% of contact.

Victor’s first home run in 2007 came in his fifth game; he homered in his second game in 2006; in both his eighth and ninth games in 2005; and his second game in 2004. The 54 homerless games this year is a little over four times the aggregate total preceding his initial dinger in the last four years. With his injury, V-Mart may miss 6-8 weeks, meaning it could be the middle of August before he hits his first home run… if that.