What To Make Of J.D. Martinez

With 3 home runs and a .371 average, J.D. Martinez is one of the big pickups in roto over the past week. The question around Martinez is sustainability. Obviously he won’t hit .371 all season, but can he sustain a solid average in combination with respectable power numbers throughout the year?

I think so. I do not quite think we are going to witness a Jose Bautista coming out party in regards to Martinez, but I do think he can surprise and be a valuable player throughout the year. His walk rate throughout the minors was never too great, but he did post high averages and solid home run totals at most levels.

Last year, combined between double-A and the Majors, Martinez hit .318 with 19 home runs in 596 plate appearances. At 23-years-old, his dominance of double-A was not incredibly impressive, but it does show the type of player he is.

In his 226 plate appearances in the majors, he was able to hit just around league average with a 101 wRC+. He had massive struggles with his walk and strikeout rates compared to his minor league rates, however, but to me that is somewhat of a positive. He was able to perform at a league average rate while having a very poor walk to strikeout rate, so with an improvement in that area he could become more impressive. Nine games is not enough to judge to see if he has improved in these areas, so I won’t bother in posting his current walk or strikeout rates, though they are improved.

ZiPS rest of season has Martinez at a .334 wOBA, which would result in a .344 wOBA for the season. For Martinez’s first full season in the bigs, that’s not too shabby. That wOBA does not even do him justice in fantasy formats either. With a low walk rate of 7.3% expected, much of his on base percentage is revolved around his average. For the rest of the season, ZiPS projects a .284 average, which would result in a .289 total — pretty good in standard formats.

Martinez is likely off of your waiver wire already, and selling high on him is not a terrible option. There may be people in your league that buy into the young player a bit more than you do, and you can receive some value for him since you likely either drafted him late or recently picked him up off of waivers. I think he has the tools in his arsenal to hit for a decent average and power numbers throughout the year, but I do not think he will suddenly blossom into a star. You should have tempered expectations, but I would not look at his solid start to the year as an entirely luck-filled performance.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

13 Responses to “What To Make Of J.D. Martinez”

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  1. JP says:

    Just got offered Ian Desmond for JD. I do need some help at MI (currently have Rayburn/Jemile Weeks/Ackley rotating through 2b/MI) and have Nelson Cruz on the bench as long as JD is hot (OF/U also includes Stanton/Ethier/CYoung/AJax) .

    There’s not a lot of comparable trading of JD in CBS leagues, so I’m having trouble figuring out who to offload him for. Desmond actually seems like a fair trade. For anyone who cares, any thoughts?

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  2. SissyRunsMyTeam says:

    MI are more valuable than OF

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  3. Mojotronica says:

    I think Martinez has a lot more upside than Desmond. See if you can swap him for a better MI – I’d be looking at Alexei Ramirez. That seems fair to me considering how they’ve started the season and Ramirez’ lack of upside.

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  4. Brennan Huff says:

    Both Desmond and Martinez have been pretty fortunate so far this season, but the one # that really stands out to me is the HR/FB rate for Martinez. Once that levels off, I suspect he and Desmond will probably post pretty similar totals the rest of the way in HR. Martinez may wind up with a few more HR, but Desmond figures to tally about 15 or so more SB.

    If you need MI help and are pretty well set at OF and UTIL, I’d trade Martinez for Desmond. In your situation, Desmond figures to help you more than having an extra OF/UTIL guy because of need at MI.

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    • MP says:

      Martinez has a career 1.07 GB/FB ratio. Desmond has a 1.70 GB/FB ratio, and getting more GB heavy every year — which is not the norm as hitters age. They aren’t similar profiles.

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  5. Dave says:

    It depends on team needs. Martinez will surely hit for a higher AVG than Desmond, but Desmond will certainly steal more bases. Martinez may hit a few more HR, but they will likely be comparable there. The biggest question is whether you need a SS/MI or an OF. Obviously OFs are much more prevalent on the waiver wire than MIs throughout the season, but I do think Martinez’s overall numbers will be better than Desmond’s all else being equal

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  6. Mojotronica says:

    I just think Desmond is replacement level at that position, you might be better off streaming the position. (Maybe I underestimate him, but has he ever played above replacement level in Mixed leagues?) I think if JP trades Martinez for Desmond, he may as well just DROP Martinez and get NO return for Martinez’ hot start.

    At least there’s a chance that Martinez is for real and will bat at Nick Markakis-levels for the rest of the season. Not fantastic, but definitely rosterable, clearly better than a waiver wire streamer.

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    • Mojotronica says:

      Bottom line: I think you should be able to get a better MI than Desmond for Martinez.

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  7. JP says:

    Thanks all. A lot of great points. I may ride out JD for a bit — I’m not that hard up for an MI. Appreciate it.

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  8. andy says:

    We had him last year, wanted to keep him but went with Joel Hanrahan instead, thinking it would be easier to get JD in the draft. Can’t believe we were right. Very happy with our OF corps – Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Carlos Beltran and JD Martinez, while waiting for Alexes Rios and Gordon to liven up.

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  9. jdem88 says:

    i drafted JD late and then traded him straight up for Yonder Alonso, i figured Alonso would have more power in the long run, starting to regret it.

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  10. Johnny says:

    Someone in my league just traded JD Martinez for Mike Aviles. Think he just gave up a possible star for a guy who just happened to have a hot start?

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    • Shane says:

      I’m not sure which player you’re referring to as the possible star vs the hot start.

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