Texas Rangers Player Profile: Nick Martinez

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There have been quite a few surprises this season for the Texas Rangers. However, most of them have been negatives, as players like Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo have not performed at anything close to their expectations. Yet, through all of the darkness, there have been a few bright spots for the Rangers this season. Of those bright spots, there may be none brighter than Nick Martinez.

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After posting a 5-12 record with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.461 WHiP last season, the 24 year old Martinez has truly burst on to the scene this season. Thus far, Martinez has posted a truly remarkable 0.84 ERA, allowing only three earned runs in his 32 innings of work. That type of run in impressive regardless of the pitcher, but considering how Martinez struggled last season, this type of a breakout was entirely unexpected.

Naturally, the question for the Texas Rangers now becomes: how sustainable is Nick Martinez’ success? We all know that Martinez will not post an ERA of 0.84 throughout the entire season; after all, the single season ERA record is 0.86, set by Tim Keefe back in 1880. We are not exactly in that type of dead ball era, where mounds were fifty feet away from home plate.

Looking at Martinez’ peripheral statistics, it is amazing that his ERA is that low. He has posted a 1.115 WHiP thus far, which is certainly solid, but not otherworldly. Martinez also has an extremely low strikeout rate, striking out 13 batters in 32 innings. While he has also walked only eight batters in that time, it seems to be a matter of time before the bottom falls out on Martinez’ performance.

Based on his Fielding Independent Pitching, that should have already happened. Based on what Martinez’ performance has been this season, he would be expected to have produced a 3.48 ERA. What has fueled this difference?

First, Martinez has had an extremely high percentage of runners left on base. While the average is typically between 70% to 72%, Martinez has kept an astonishing 87.5% of baserunners from scoring. That type of strand rate, especially without strikeout inducing stuff, is unsustainable.

Martinez has also allowed a batting average on balls in play of only .264 on the season. While that number is not egregiously outside the realm of probability like his strand rate, it is still a bit lower than the average batting average for balls in play.

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Yet, like the rest of Martinez’ statistics this season, that .264 BABiP seems unlikely based on the results of balls put in play against him. Martinez has allowed a line drive on 25.0% of balls put in play against him, a number that is higher than average. However, he has been able to mitigate that damage by getting the opposition to hit infield popups at a 17.2% rate. While Martinez was able to induce an infield fly on 10.8% of balls put in play last season, this year’s rate is due to come down.

Of course, there have been pitchers who have defied the statistical odds over the years. Jeremy Hellickson performed far better than his peripherals would have indicated over his first couple of seasons with the Rays. While it may not lead to sustainable success throughout a career, there is certainly the chance that a season or two can happen with the proper luck.

Nick Martinez had what would be a dream month in April for the Texas Rangers. Now, it is a matter of seeing how long he can continue to be this effective before his dream ends.

Next: Rangers Bullpen Has Been Bright Spot Thus Far

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