The Detroit Tigers definitely have the American League MVP this season, but he may not be who everyone is thinking.
While Miguel Cabrera continues to do Miguel Cabrera things, Victor Martinez is the best hitter on the team this season, and the AL MVP so far this season. Martinez hit his 20th home run of the season in the Tigers’ 8-6 victory over the reeling Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Wednesday. He finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Anibal Sanchez picked up the victory as he went 5 1/3 innings, where he allowed four earned runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Martinez is hitting .330 on the season and has an OBP of .387. He is also slugging at a solid .610 clip and has driven in 52 runs this season. While he is primarily a designated hitter, the lack of defensive brilliance from Cabrera has not hurt his awards. Martinez has played 13 games at first and two at catcher. His offensive WAR is a sturdy 2.5 according to Baseball Reference; he is projected to smack 44 homers and drive in 114 runs. Martinez is a great complement to Cabrera, and that just makes the Tigers that much more dangerous. Detroit is looking like the team many people thought could be a World Series contender, and Martinez is a big reason why.
Not only is he hitting at an incredible rate, he is also putting the ball in play when he does not get on base. He has stuck out only 22 times this season in 282, which translates to a projection of only 48 Ks for the entire season. That is obviously incredible and helpful, because anything can happen when the ball is in play. Martinez is also a valuable player because he is crushing the ball and only costing the Tigers $12 million this season. Player value should have money factored in and with Martinez, it makes him even more of a bargain.
The Tigers now stand at 42-32 on the season, and are looking like a team that could go a sustained winning streak. If Martinez continues to contribute with his bat the way he has all season, the AL Central race could be over before September.