With all the flashy names on the Detroit Tigers roster, it seems as though Victor Martinez gets lost in the shuffle a lot of times.
It has happened again heading into the ALDS series with the Oakland Athletics with names like Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Prince Fielder and Coco Crisp popping up left and right while Martinez lurks in the background. Martinez wasn’t forgotten last season when he was out for the season before the season even began, prompting the Tigers to stun the world by signing Prince Fielder.
That doesn’t mean Fielder renders Martinez valueless.
Martinez was two different players in the two halves of the baseball season, catching fire in the second half and being a quiet reason why the Tigers were able to hold on to their AL Central crown. If he can continue to hit at the rate he has over the last few months, he could again be a quiet reason why the Tigers’ season continues.
It’s crazy to think that a hitter of Martinez’s stature would get lost in the shuffle, but one person who isn’t forgetting his name is Jim Leyland, who will look to Victor to drive in as many runs as possible with the bottom of the lineup, struggling as they are.
Martinez’s importance to this team in the next week and hopefully longer cannot be overstated. The Tigers need his ability to drive in clutch runs to help stabilize the batting order. There may be flashier names and higher-paid players on the Tigers’ roster who are important as well, but Martinez is the bridge that keeps the Tigers’ offense productive before it falls off with the no. 6-9 hitters.
Without that bridge, the Tigers will be in serious trouble.