Russell Martin seems to like being a Pittsburgh Pirate. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling he really likes playing in the ‘Burg. And the guy can sure catch. Jason Kendall-type catch. While everyone raves about Yadier Molina, and rightfully so, Martin quietly goes about his business of calling and catching an excellent game.
And while Martin may not be better than Molina, he’s right up there with him. He hasn’t made an error all season, and his .488 percentage of base runners caught stealing is tops in all of the MLB.
And the guy always hustles. Always. If anyone can be excused for taking it easy running down the first base line in the 10th inning after he hits an easy ground ball to second base, it’s the catcher, but you won’t see Martin doing it. Martin rarely, if ever, takes the free pass. He’s all-out 24/7.
After last season’s base-stealing fiasco where Pirate catchers threw out only 19 runners all season, Martin’s stability behind the plate cannot be understated. He’s already nabbed 20 potential base stealers this year, and as a result, teams are simply not attempting as many stolen bases as they used to. This helps take pressure off the defense as a whole and immeasurably improves team defense.
If all this wasn’t enough, Martin’s bat has contributed more than expected, as the three-time All Star has homered eight times and knocked in 32 runs, both from fourth in the Pirates’ current lineup.
When all is said and done, the free-signing of the 30-year-old from Ontario, Canada last November is one of the best in the last decade by the Pirates.