Victor Martinez will take the final at-bat of his career this Saturday, per Chris McCosky of The Detroit News. Friday and Saturday against Kansas City will be the final two games of Martinez’s career.
It seems, then, that Martinez has put aside any remaining doubt as to his intentions. He said recently, in reference to the remainder of the 2018 season, that he was “pretty sure this is going to be it,” as Evan Woodberry of MLive.com was among those to cover. It’s now clear that Martinez will hang up his spikes after taking the final at-bat of his career in front of his home crowd in Detroit — which, as Woodberry tweets, is the way the veteran wants to wrap things up.
Martinez, a native of Venezuala, signed as an amateur free agent with the Cleveland Indians in 1996. After breaking into the majors as a catcher with the Indians in 2002, Martinez played his first full season as a 24-year-old the following season. Cleveland traded their star catcher to the Boston Red Sox at the 2009 deadline for a package of Nick Hagadone, Justin Masterson, and Bryan Price. After finishing out the 2009 season with a disappointing ALDS loss to the Angels, Martinez returned to Boston for the 2010 seasons – his last year of playing full-time at catcher.
As a free agent in 2011, Martinez joined the Detroit Tigers on a four-year, $50MM contract, where he became a primary designated hitter. The Tigers won the AL Central in all four seasons of Martinez’ initial deal, prompting the Tigers to re-sign him after the 2014 season to a second four-year pact, this one worth $68MM. That contract runs out at the end of this season.
The last two seasons have not been kind to Martinez, but he was legitimately one of the most feared hitters in the American League for a ten-year stretch from 2004-2014. His best season came with the Tigers in 2014 when he hit .335/.409/.565, leading the league with an impressive .974 OPS. For his career, Martinez slashed .296/.360/.455, with 246 home runs and a 118 OPS+, making the All-Star team five times and winning a Silver Slugger Award twice – in 2004 as a catcher and in 2014 as a DH.
Unfortunately, Martinez never won a World Series, but he was no stranger to the postseason, reaching the ALCS with Cleveland in 2007 and again with Detroit in 2011. Martinez missed the entirety of the 2012 season after tearing his left ACL during offseason conditioning, which was – unfortunately for Martinez – the year Detroit won the American League Pennant, getting swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
With 32.3 career rWAR, there’s a Hall of Fame case to be made for the switch-hitting catcher/1B/DH – but it’s unlikely. His 30.6 JAWS score puts him well below the average Hall of Fame score of 44.0 for catchers, but certainly impressive enough to receive some votes and remain on the ballot for a few years. Nevertheless, Saturday will mark the final playing time in a long and impressive career for Martinez, who turns 40 in December. Martinez will retire having made over $140MM across 16 major league seasons.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.