If you are a regular reader of my Pittsburgh Pirates coverage, then you know that I was beating and banging on catcher Russell Martin pretty hard over the first two weeks of the season. Well, now it is time for me to tip my proverbial cap to the catcher as the Pirates player of the week.
Martin played in six games this past week, and had nine hits in 24 at-bats for a batting average .375. Three of those hits were home runs, giving him a slugging percentage of .833 over the span. He raised his overall batting average by 51 points to .267, and helped the team go 5-2 for the week as the Bucs climbed into first place in the National League Central division.
Martin has also been handling a pitching staff that is coming together with the exception of the useless Jonathan Sanchez. The staff tossed two shutouts last week and they already have five on the season. If you keep the other team scoreless, that makes it nice and easy to win ballgames.
It is important for Martin to keep this pace up if the Pirates are going to stay on top of the division. Andrew McCutchen may be the team’s biggest star, but Martin needs to be the leader. It is easiest for him because he is a veteran backstop who has been to the playoffs before: as a catcher, he can bring together both the pitchers and the offensive guys and as a veteran, he’ll demand the attention of the clubhouse.
His five trips to the playoffs in eight years in the bigs shows he knows how to get it done. The Pirates have a good chance at the playoffs this season as long as Martin does the job he was brought in to Pittsburgh to do.