When the Houston Astros traded Hunter Pence away in 2011, it was a young outfielder named J.D. Martinez who was tasked with filling the huge gap that was left. For the most part, he largely lived up to the challenge, posting a .274 batting average with six home runs and 35 RBIs in just 208 at-bats in the second half of the season after taking over.
His first full season wasn’t as successful as all had hoped, but a .241 average with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs isn’t the worst line in the world. He even followed it up by improving in 2013 prior to getting hurt. But a .250 average with mediocre power won’t cut it on an Astros’ team that’s planning for big things in the future, especially from a 26-year-old who needs to start turning his prospect status into MLB consistency.
Martinez was struck down by injuries midway through the 2013 season and missed out on the second half entirely, so to compensate, he headed to Venezuela for winter ball with one purpose in mind — fixing his swing. Martinez admitted that his swing had several checks in it. It always appeared to be a loopy swing, and Martinez told reporters that he succeeded in making his swing simpler from his hands to his feet.
This all bodes well for Houston, whose outfield is shaping up to be a pretty formidable force. As stated, Martinez’s numbers were never terrible, he just lacked consistency and his strikeouts could have been cut down on a bit. If he did what he claims he did in cutting down all the moving parts in his swing, he could very well end up making a run at being on the Astros’ 25-man roster come April.