The Pittsburgh Pirates signed catcher Russell Martin this past offseason because they needed a good defensive catcher and a solid asset at the plate. Through 28 games in the 2013 Major League Baseball season, it appears Martin is the right man for the job.
The 30-year-old began the season slow on offense, but has been heating up ever since. He is batting .274 on the season with six home runs, 10 RBI, six doubles, seven walks, one stolen base and 13 runs in 84 at-bats. His batting average would be much better if he did not go 1-for-31 to start the season.
What is really impressive is how well Martin has been playing recently. The right-handed batter has recorded a hit in every game with the exception of one since April 15. In fact, he has posted a .444 batting average with four home runs and six RBI in his last four contests. The Pirates went 2-2 in those four games as the Milwaukee Brewers once again proved to be too much for them.
Martin has been playing so well that he was named the National League Player of the Week from April 22-28. Over that span, he batted .375 (9-for-24) with four home runs, six RBI, 23 total bases and a .958 slugging percentage. He was only the second catcher in franchise history in the past 50 years to record at least three extra-base hits and two home runs in a single game.
Pittsburgh is currently 16-12 and second in the NL Central standings. It is certainly a team effort that has got the Pirates off to a fast start, but it would be insane not to think Martin is a huge part of the success.