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All I can tell you about Leonys Martin is that he’s a pleasant surprise. The Mariners dealt for him before last season – losing nothing in the process – and he was one of those guys coming in after a down season looking for a bounce-back. In 2013 and 2014, Martin looked like a potential superstar-in-waiting. Maybe that’s over-stating things a bit, but his defensive ability has always been off the charts, and whenever he gives you anything on offense, he becomes one of the more valuable players on your team.
Which is why my enthusiasm was so tempered when he came here. But, he really showed something! His defense is as advertised – which is why it’s so exciting to think about an outfield with him, Jarrod Dyson, and Mitch Haniger. What was really encouraging was how hot he came in out of the gate. Through May he hit 9 of what would become 15 homers, a career high. He was hitting for a good average, getting on base at a nice clip, and those power numbers – combined with his defensive ability – made him one of the most important players on the team! Then, he pulled a hammy and missed a couple weeks. When he returned, he wasn’t really the same.
He wasn’t a total washout, but his power was really sucked away, and his strikeout numbers spiked. It’s hard to know what to think about those strikeout numbers, because he’s never had a season that bad in that area before. Was he swinging for the fences too much due to that early-season success? Was it just an anomaly? Regardless, that’s something for him and Edgar to work on in Spring Training, as he returns today after testifying in some case involving Cuban baseball defectors.
As I’ve been saying all along, I’m pretty happy with how the offense is shaping up. As such, we really don’t need a ton of production out of someone like Martin. As long as he keeps playing that great defense, and keeps that batting average over .200, I should be happy. Anything more is a nice little bonus. Across the entire outfield, I’m not asking for a lot. I’m not even asking for one guy to shock the world and take a huge step forward! Mostly, I’d just like to see all three spots not be a black hole at the same time. Maybe Martin can be successful in April and May, Dyson can get hot in June and July, and whoever’s in right field can take over in August and September.
What I’d really like, more than anything, is for these guys to stay healthy for as long as possible. There aren’t a lot of places on this team where the Mariners have significant depth, but Outfield Defense is certainly one of them. I’d REALLY like to see how this season plays out with all of those guys healthy and stealing runs from the other team on a consistent basis. Just because we have upwards of 5 or 6 guys who are capable of filling the void in centerfield doesn’t mean I want to see them in there on a rotating basis!
Aside from health concerns, I’m ready. Let’s do this! Let’s get them out there and see what they can do together!