Detroit Tigers: Introducing J.D. Martinez

Detroit TigersDetroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez is becoming a household name in the Motor City as he continues to provide much-needed protection for sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

The 26-year-old earned American League Player of the Week honors this past Monday, batting .444 (12-for-27), with four home runs and 11 RBI, in seven games last week.

Martinez had a pair of extra-base hits in the Tigers’ victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, extending his hitting streak to 14 games; the longest-active streak in the majors.

Before his call-up from AAA Toledo, Martinez batted .308, with 10 home runs and 22 RBI in 65 at-bats with the Mud Hens. Since then, he is hitting .314, with 8 homers and 29 RBI.

Prior to establishing himself as a key asset to the Tigers lineup, his name wasn’t well-known in the city of Detroit.

Tigers third-base coach Dave Clark, who had previously spent time coaching with the Houston Astros, encouraged Detroit to sign Martinez after he had been released by the Astros following Spring Training.

Up until that point, he had spent his entire career with the Astros. Martinez was drafted by Houston with theĀ 611th-overall pick in the 2009 draft.

On July 30, 2011 Martinez was the first player drafted out of Nova Southeastern University to debut in Major League Baseball.

Martinez showed promise in his three-year stint with the Astros, hitting .251, with 24 home runs and 126 RBI in 899 at-bats.

However, after spending time watching film with then-teammate Jason Castro, the Florida-native decided that he wanted to completely change his swing last season.

Martinez was envious of the fluidity that Castro possessed in his swing, which led him to study the swings of the game’s best hitters. One swing that he studied particularly was, coincidentally, Miguel Cabrera’s.

Now that his swing is fine-tuned, Martinez has made a huge impact on the Tigers lineup batting behind Cabrera and V-Mart.

If he is able to consistently produce in the lineup, Brad Ausmus may have to designate Martinez as an everyday player. The protection that he provides in the middle of the lineup is indispensable.

As the season progresses, look for Ausmus to experiment with various lineups in the outfield.

Finding Martinez consistent playing time may diminish the role of Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter.

Although Jackson has become more patient at the plate, he is only hitting .253 this season and Rajai Davis is fully capable of patrolling center field.

As for Hunter, it’s becoming clear that his age is beginning to catch up to him, sitting out every third or fourth day could be in his best interests.

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