Pop quiz: which outfielders have the highest wRC+ this season (min 300 PAs)? No prizes for guessing Mike Trout at number one. Some prizes for guessing Yoenis Cespedes at number two. And number three? JD Martinez.
And their average Ottoneu salaries?
Mike Trout: $66.47
Yoenis Cespedes: $25.16
JD Martinez: $16.66
Martinez ranks just 21st in terms of outfielder salaries – behind the likes of Justin Upton ($30.06), Adam Jones ($27.39) and Carlos Gomez ($16.76).
And his performance is trending upwards. Fangraphs’ 2016 player profile warned against his swing-and-miss tendencies, noting that he had 26% and 27% strikeout rates in his two best seasons. This year? He’s at 23.9%, with his highest walk rate since 2012 (8.7%) and career high OBP (.378) and SLG (.562).
This disparity between performance and cost suggests some owners may be sleeping on him. So if someone in your league has JDM at the league average salary, see if you can prise him away – he should help down the stretch and, hopefully, for several years to come.