We all know the story by now. Chris Martin went from warehouse employee to Major League Baseball pitcher in a few short years. Any way you slice Martin's debut campaign, it was a huge, successful step in life for the 28-year-old right-hander.
But since I like to put at least some degree of focus on statistics, advanced or otherwise, to judge a player's past, present and future, I don't really care about feel-good stories or the human element.. So, I will leave all that lovey-dovey bullcrap at the doorstep and focus on Martin, the reliever for the Colorado Rockies, and what he was able to accomplish in 2014.
Martin was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the deal that brought Franklin Morales back to Colorado in exchange for scrappy utility infielder who definitely deserved to start at shortstop over that selfish Tulo Jonathan Herrera. Martin made his major league debut on April 26 and didn't allow a run until his fifth appearance, an 11-10 win over the New York Mets at Coors Field.
The 6'8 Texan posted a 2.35 ERA through his first seven appearances before seeing that number balloon to 4.15 following an outing on May 17 in which he allowed a pair of runs in an inning of work. Martin was optioned to Triple-A three days later. Things didn't go so well for him when he returned to the Rockies on June 5.
Chris Martin, 2014
Martin's big league season went up in flames between that day and June 20, his last appearance for the Rockies in 2014. He allowed eight runs in seven innings -- a 10.29 ERA -- and gave up 12 hits. Martin was optioned back down to Triple-A for the rest of the season following the poor stretch. There, he struck out 36 batters and walked only nine but ended up with a pedestrian 4.39 ERA in 26⅔ innings.
2014 Grade: D
From a pure results standpoint, Martin was not very effective. There's little to argue there. However ...
What to expect in 2015
Look at some of those numbers above. Martin posted a 60.8 percent ground-ball rate, struck out almost a batter per inning, didn't walk a ton of guys and had extremely poor batted-ball luck. Martin's FIP was more than three full runs lower than his ERA, and perhaps more importantly, he's got good stuff. His fastball touches 96 to 97 mph, and he averages 94.3 mph with the pitch. And clearly, he gets good downward movement from his tall frame judging by that shiny 60.8 percent grounder rate.
Bullpens are weird. They're affected by small sample sizes and all sorts of other things that aren't necessarily in pitchers' control. The numbers show that Martin has a real good chance of being effective going forward, and he's definitely worth another look as the Rockies search for options to solidify their relief corps heading into 2015.