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Martin honored for stellar work behind plate

Russell Martin was saluted on Thursday as Wilson's Pirates Defensive Player of the Year, surprisingly usurping Andrew McCutchen's claim to that distinction while confirming the catcher's role in the team's turnaround.

Wilson's defensive awards are derived from a set of comparative statistics and metrics, and Martin stood out in leading Major League catchers by throwing out 36 runners -- a department in which the Bucs ranked last among the 30 Major League teams in 2012.

Martin and McCutchen are both top contenders for the GIBBY trophy for Defensive Player of the Year, to be awarded as part of the 2013 Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards, which are based on voting by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni and the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as fan balloting on

Through Sunday, Dec. 1, fans will be able to cast their ballots at for the year's top defensive star, with no individual league affiliation.

McCutchen earned a Gold Glove Award last season and again was a finalist this year. Likewise, he got the nod from Wilson in last year's selection of the Pirates' top defender. The consensus is that the Pirates' center fielder was actually a far better defensive player in 2013 than he had been when taking home all those honors a year ago.

That said, there is no dispute that Martin, who himself earned a Gold Glove in 2007 with the Dodgers, deserved the Wilson honor. Beyond Martin's conspicuous ability to thwart the opposition's running game, his mobility behind the plate prevented countless wild pitches by Pittsburgh's sinker-heavy pitching staff.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle calls Martin "the most athletic catcher I have ever been around."

"The job he has done behind the plate has been a difference maker," Hurdle said of Martin. "It's hard to find another catcher who does as much dirty work as he's done. He's so far in front of everyone else I've ever seen."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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