Fantasy Baseball

Heat Check: 2019 Fantasy Baseball Jose Martinez


Let me guess: you are wondering what it feels like? Allow me to take this one…

Like warmmmm apple pie.

That is the feeling we got when we took the temperature of St. Louis Cardinals super sub turned right fielder Jose Martinez. There is definite Heat, but the kind that reminds you of home/fantasy breakouts of year’s past.

Today we aim to prove- that’s right, no guessing game, he is straight fantasy fire – that José Martinez belongs everywhere except waiver wires in 2019.

José Martinez has long been a tried and true ball player. He set the Pacific Coast League single season record with a stellar .384 BA in 2015. The same problem that has followed him throughout his career remains: a consistent path and opportunity to show the big leagues and fantasy world his worth. Last year was a step in the right direction. Mariínez finally was up with the big league team for a full season in 2018, earning an opening day roster spot for the first time at the age of 29.

A man once traded for a $1 bill (albeit to make room for Whit Merrifield out in KC) is a man with a very large chip resting heavily on his shoulder. He was worth more in deep-league auction drafts. Staying in the same state Martinez has finally found a home/role in St.Louis, despite being passed around legitimately like apple pie until now.

We came into this season questioning the quality of depth behind the usual suspects at First Base. What we have found is ascension of some familiar characters amongst some new names, including Martinez.

What about his viability at his new position out in right field? We plan on justifying his start-ability there too.

2019 is the season where we feel Martinez will continue to take big steps at the plate and obliterate that massive shoulder chip once and for all. Fantasy Baseball managers in all league formats would be wise to hop on board the Jose Martinez train before it is too late. This is our week 6 Heat Check: 2019 Fantasy Baseball Jose Martinez.

Heat Check: 2019 Fantasy Baseball Jose Martinez

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RHB Jose Martinez, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Embed from Getty Images

AGE: ~31, 3rd MLB Season (Signed with White Sox as amateur FA in 2006)
5/6 Ownership: ESPN – 64.1%, Yahoo! – 55%, CBS – 75%

Standard Batting
2016 12 18 16 4 7 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 .438 .500 .500 1.000 171 8
2017 106 307 272 47 84 13 1 14 46 4 32 60 .309 .379 .518 .897 134 141
2018 152 590 534 64 163 30 0 17 83 0 49 104 .305 .364 .457 .821 124 244
2019 34 100 93 15 33 7 0 2 16 1 6 19 .355 .390 .495 .885 137 46
4 Yr 304 1015 915 130 287 51 1 33 146 5 89 184 .314 .374 .480 .853 129 439
162 162 541 488 69 153 27 1 18 78 3 47 98 .314 .374 .480 .853 129 234
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/6/2019.
St. Louis Cardinals Right Fielder Jose Martinez has a baseball pedigree. The business of baseball runs through his veins. Martinez’s father, the late Carlos Martinez, played with three major league teams across parts of seven seasons. And we would bet much more than the $1 the Cards paid to acquire him that you are familiar with Jose Martinez’s dad too…

The man who hit the homer that bounced off Jose Canseco‘s fat f*** head was Martinez’s father. Don’t you just love obscure baseball history with a hint of serendipity inserted into a fantasy baseball advice column? No? Then I digress, heavily.

Conversely,  the younger Martinez should not be a new name to fantasy owners. In June of last year, he enjoyed a mini-breakout with eight home runs and 21 RBIs across 94 PAs, slashing a healthy .314/.372/.640. But the trek that was his first full MLB season was full of peaks and valleys. He started only 15 games in July sporting a .262/.304/.277 slash. Post-June 2018 he hit a paltry 4 homers across 61 starts in a season where balls flew off bats. Sure, you may have rostered him through June or early July, but odds are he was back on the wire in early August.

Role Play-er: First Voit Was Shipped, then Bader and O’Neil Stumbled and Tripped

Former first base competition Luke Voit was traded at the 2018 deadline, opening first base up for Martinez indefinitely. Voit has a hell of a bat that has been on display in both late-2018 and 2019. But Martinez was kept instead due to his blistering June numbers and slightly better defensive acumen. Though questions persisted into the offseason as to whether his glove was good enough at first for the long haul.

So the Cardinals went ahead and brought in a hired mercenary to man first in 2019. Paul Goldschmidt, bat and glove, were in,  Martinez was out, signaling the sad end to an everyday role. Again, he was role-less in Missouri.

Martinez spent parts of the 2017 season in the majors including 17 appearances in right field and 24 in left. In 2018 he appeared in right field 46 times. Heading into 2019 fantasy drafts the Dexter FowlerHarrison BaderMarcell Ozuna outfield seemed like the Cardinals present (with Bader and 4th OF/PH Tyler O’Neil also the locked-in future). Martinez entered the 2019 season as a super sub/utility man/possible fifth outfielder. Waiver wire fodder, if you will.

Then Bader got hurt. 23 year old O’Neil, a potential plus power bat, struggled out the gate and found himself without playing time. Late last week (5/4) it was announced that the Cardinals were optioning him back to AAA in order to get him playing time and at bats. How did our guy respond to the news?

By doing WORK. Martinez’s biggest knock coming into the season was the lack of an everyday role after the Goldschmidt trade. We are confident he’s locked down the every day RF role. And whatever off-season concerns you might have had, toss them in the Winterfell fires. He is currently t-4th amongst NL outfielders with two errors. His everyday role should be secure for the rest of 2019. And thus the table is set for his bat to deliver for consistent fantasy production for your squad.

Why Bend Like Beckham When You Could Oppo% like Jose Martinez

Quick Programming Note: Martinez did not become a consistent starter this season until April 17th so he misses the “qualified” batter designation.

Martinez’s batted ball statistics are unique and intriguing to examine. He sported the 10th lowest Pull% in 2018 (32.4%) while leading all qualified batters in Oppo% (34.7%). He has followed up these stellar numbers with an Oppo% of 32% in 2019, theoretically tying him for 14th in the majors. His 25.3% Pull% is the second lowest in the Majors this year. At the plate, he has shown steady improvements this season after good progress in 2018. His SwStr% is down almost a point to 7.7% which would place him 6th amongst qualified first baseman and 15th amongst qualified outfielders.

Martinez’s swing% is almost identical to 2018 (43.7%), but his eye and contact for pitches in the zone are improving in only his second full MLB season. Despite lowering his Z-Swing% by 3.5% to 60.3%, his Z-Contact% is up 1.9% to 90.1%. This would place Martinez 17th amongst outfielders and tie him for 3rd amongst first baseman. All this despite an increase in Zone% from 41% in 2018 to 45.7% this season. He’s swinging at less pitches in the zone, but making more contact when he does. Recipe for great success!

After regressing against fastballs and changeups in his first full MLB season, Martinez has started to reverse the trend early in 2019. His wFA/C is nearing where it was in 2017 at 2.15 after steeply declining to 0.24 in 2018. He has also slightly improved against cutters with a -0.37 wFC/C in 2019 after -1.32 wFC/c in 2018. He’s obliterating changeups as demonstrated by his 5.28 wCH/C after last year’s 1.16 and is batting .455 with a .727 slugging percentage.

He has increased his LD% 1.9% to 28.0% in 2019. He’s a career .615 hitter with a 1.448 OPS across 236 plate appearances that ended with a line drive hit trajectory. He’s sporting what would be a career low 3.0% IFH%.

2019 So Far: Hitter, Hitter, Chicken Cardinals Dinner

Over the course of his 3+ years in the majors, Martinez has a healthy .314/.374/.480 slash with a .361 BAbip across 1015 plate appearances. Across the 2017 (307 PAs) and 2018 seasons (590 PAs), he hit above .300 with intriguingly close BAbips (.350 in 2017, .351 in 2018). That’s some stellar contact consistency.

In 2018, he was 10th in the NL with 116 singles, a trend that’s continued into 2019. He ranks 9th with 24 singles on the season despite not earning the starter role until April 17th. Here are some early 2019 stats:

  • With a K% at 19% this season, Martinez would theoretically rank 9th amongst qualified ML first baseman and 28th amongst qualified outfielders.
  • His .425 BAbip leads all qualified outfielders and first baseman.
  • His .378 wOBA would rank him 9th amongst qualified first baseman (right above Luke Voit at .377) and 18th amongst qualified outfielders.
  • His .355 batting average would be second in all the Majors behind Cody Bellinger.

That is a beautiful lineup to have a piece of. Paul DeJong already has a 2.4 WAR. Kolten Wong and Marcell Ozuna have bounced back from disappointing 2018 campaigns. Goldschmidt should get better as he adjusts to his new team/home.

Cardinals hitters batting 5th in a weaker 2018 Cardinals lineup produced a .256/.324/.426 slash with 26 home runs, 106 RBIs on a .291 BAbip. In 46 career starts batting 5th in the Cardinals order, Martinez owns a .351/.406/.536 slash with seven home runs, 33 RBIs and a .391 BAbip. In 2019 he’s batted 5th in the Cardinals lineup in 17 of his 21 starts to a tune of .397/.435/.571. This beast shall feast.

Heat Check: Steal this Pie Guy Now If Still Sitting On Your Window Sill Waiver Wire

Jose Martinez is driven. He’s in his age 30/31 season, and is locked in for one more year at $2.125mil. He should be eligible for arbitration after the 2020 season. With what most would consider his “prime” playing years mostly gone, I am betting Carlos Martinez makes the most out of this opportunity today. Especially if he is trying to get paid come Fall 2021.

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Playing a majority of his games at New Busch Stadium shouldn’t help him. The Cards home park ranked in the bottom-8 for hitters in runs, home runs, hits, doubles, triples, and walks. But it does not seem to hurt him. He’s a career .329/.381/.498 hitter at Busch Stadium: 104/148 GS, 476 PAs, 63 Runs, 17 Doubles, 18 Home Runs, 76 RBIs, 3 SB, 38 walks, .377 BAbip. On the road, a career .300/.367/.464 hitter.

Afraid of hand splits? The righty is a career .306 hitter against righties with an .815 OPS and .358 BAbip. Against lefties? A monstrous .338 hitter with a .571 slugging percentage and a .370 BAbip.
Still not enough to convince you? He has a career .370/.411/.550 slash with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. This includes a .453 BAbip and 47 RBIs across 107 PAs.
In over 359 career plate appearances with the Cardinals behind on the scoreboard, Martinez slashed .338/.405/.896 with 12 home runs and a .405 BAbip. This season he has gone .333/.384/.912 with 2 homer runs in 39 plate appearances with the Cards losing. Clutchtinez, baby!
You wanted Jake Bauers to take the step this season? Well it hasn’t worked out. Perhaps you missed out on Josh Bell‘s sleeper appeal. But drop the steal expectations (Martinez had 4 in 2017, and 1 this season) and high power points, you have a better contact hitter in a much better lineup who’s one year away from free agency. The guy makes less than $2mil but can not bat under .300. And hits 5th or 6th every night in a fantastic lineup with a winning culture.
So does your roster have space for the 9th “Jose” off the board in fantasy drafts this season (ADP: 253.3)? An absolute fantasy super sub at the very least for your Fantasy team with 1B/OF eligibility should be enticing.
All Avg./OBP hunters, Hit counters and Runs aficionados, pay extra attention to Jose. Power seekers, be cautiously optimistic for slightly above average. An NL-only league winner if shockingly not scooped up. In mixed leagues:
  • 10 Team: IF he’s not owned, TAKE NOTICE. At the very least a solid bench guy if you have the roster spot and love 1B/OF eligibility. At the very most one hell of a consistent contributor in the aforementioned categories.
  • 12 Team: Starter. Go get him.
  • 14+ Team: You already knew, you sly dog you.

Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

About Samir Qurashi

Samir Qurashi is from the Bay. He thinks football is a good time. You can get at him with any fantasy football questions on the tweeter: @FSPsamir and by electronica: He remains unspooked.

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