The catching position has been a sore spot for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the last few years. Russell Martin is on his way to changing that this year.
In 2012 the Pirates struggled throwing base runners out all season long. By the end of the year, teams would automatically try to steal second base when they reached first. Several times they would just take third base in the same at-bat. The platoon of Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry just wasn’t getting the job done.
The first half of 2013 for Russell Martin has been productive at the plate, hitting .239 with eight homers and 34 RBIs for your old-fashioned hitting numbers, all while being extremely effective behind the plate. Almost every would-be base stealer is gunned down at second base by the former Gold Glove award winner. If not for the backstop in St. Louis, the Pirates would’ve sent six players to the All-Star Game.
I am from the old school of fundamental baseball skills. You need to be strong up the middle defensively. Starting with Martin behind the plate, Neal Walker at second, Jordy Mercer/Clint Barmes at shortstop and Andrew McCutchen in center field, the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates have a very formidable middle of the diamond. Martin also is displaying a very workmanlike attitude when dealing with the pitchers. He also has played some very important games in the postseason.
This year the Pirates have a very strong catcher that will carry them into playoff contention and further. That’s right, you read it here first, the Pittsburgh Pirates will make the playoffs in large part because of their very efficient catcher.
Martin only signed for two years with the Pirates. The club should extend his contract in the near future. I grew up watching Tony Pena behind the plate for the Bucs. The current catcher reminds me of him defensively.
A playoff team depends on their pitching along with very dependable catching. Martin is providing the dependable catching, all the way to the playoffs.