Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night, there were a few positives to take away from what happened before and during the game. The biggest news of the day broke about 15 minutes before the game started, when the Pirates acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the New York Mets. During the game, Pirates catcher Russell Martin continued to show why he is worthy of hitting second in the lineup.
In just two games since being placed in front of center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the Pirates’ lineup, Martin is 4-7 with three walks and no strikeouts. Obviously, a major factor involved with him hitting well would be McCutchen hitting behind him. Pitchers aren’t going to nibble the corners to Martin when the reigning MVP is waiting on deck. When pitchers are trying their best to not walk a batter, he will undoubtedly see better pitches to hit.
Martin is replacing right fielder Travis Snider in the second spot in the lineup, and while Snider did a decent job there, Martin is clearly doing a better job so far. With just 10 plate appearances, Martin’s success hitting second is obviously a very small sample size. One can’t expect him to continue getting on base seven times out of 10, but he will definitely continue to hit fairly well as long as McCutchen is lurking on deck.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has always favored veterans, so Martin batting second in the lineup shouldn’t be a major surprise. Personally, I would prefer to see second baseman Neil Walker hitting second, but as long as Martin is producing, it’s hard to have a problem with the current lineup construction.