The Tigers are on fire and a big part of that is Victor Martinez, who has done nothing but rake this year. He hit another homer last night and now stands at .329/.379/.605 with 11 homers and 26 RBI. He leads the AL in average, slugging and OPS.
But what may be the most remarkable number he’s posted so far is 9. As in, he has struck out only nine times which, according to math, means that he has two fewer Ks than he has homers.
While always impressive for a person who hits a lot of homers, there was a time in baseball when such a thing was not necessarily a crazy-historic feat. Joe DiMaggio did it seven times in a 13-year career. Yogi Berra did it five times in the 1950s alone and had the same number of bombs and strikeouts another time. Ted Kluszewski did a few times — these days it’s a pretty rare feat. Heck, having, like, 100 more strikeouts than homers would get at least some people talking about your decent plate discipline in our free-swinging age. Only one player has done it with as many as 30 home runs since the 1950s and his name was Barry Bonds, who hit 45 homers and struck out 41 times in 2004.
I don’t expect Martinez to keep this pace up all year — he’s never been a guy who has struck out that much but in full seasons he has never had fewer than 50 — but for now it’s pretty darn impressive.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.