Leonys Martin providing Mariners with surprising power on offense
May 21, 2016, 2:51 PM | Updated: 3:26 pm
On Saturday, Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin ripped a line-drive home run in Cincinnati for his eighth of 2016. Not only did that homer put him in the top 20 on the American League leaderboard, it also matched his career high in five MLB seasons. Oh, and by the way, there’s still 120 games to go this year.
The surprising offensive production from Martin has been a huge bonus for Seattle and general manager Jerry Dipoto, who acquired him in an offseason trade with Texas primarily for his defense. Because of that, the 28-year-old center fielder has primarily batted at or near the bottom of the Mariners’ order, where he’s been thriving as of late.
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Dipoto told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore” earlier in the week that Martin’s results at the plate, which include three home runs in his last four games, are a testament to the work he’s put in with Seattle hitting coach Edgar Martinez.
“Leonys more than any other player on our club right now works on an offensive game and swing alterations with Edgar every single day,” Dipoto said.
While the power numbers jump out off the page, Martin is also making strides with a batting average that has hovered around the Mendoza line for much of the season and sat at .219 at the end of his 2015 campaign with the Texas Rangers. The home run Saturday pushed his current hitting streak to five games, and his average, which was as low as .182 on May 2, jumped over the .230 mark.
Dipoto noted that he was glad to see an opposite-field single on Thursday in a win over Baltimore from Martin as well an increased walk rate, as they are both signs that he’s becoming a more well-rounded hitter. And considering the reasons why he was brought to Seattle in the first place, that prospect pleases Dipoto.
“The Gold Glove defense, the throwing arm, he can steal a base, he does so many other things, and pile on top of that what we’ve seen in a spike in home run power, his value to us is immense regardless of what his batting average is,” Dipoto said. “He’s pretty close to a league-average offensive player, and we’re getting significantly better than that defensively. Add the two together and you really can’t put a value on it.”
The Mariners might be in for a steal when it comes to Martin, who is making $4.15 million this year and won’t hit free agency until 2019.
“Multiple years of control of a center fielder of his quality, they’re not easy to find,” Dipoto said.