Washington shuffles order, bats Martin second
DETROIT -- The Rangers went into Saturday's game against the Tigers with their No. 2 hitters batting a collective .226 on the season, with a .275 on-base percentage and .303 slugging percentage. All three figures were the lowest for that spot in the batting order in the American League.
So manager Ron Washington decided to use Leonys Martin in that spot for the first time this season on Saturday against right-hander Max Scherzer. Martin had been batting at the bottom of the order, but Washington dropped David Murphy into the No. 9 spot. Murphy and Elvis Andrus have been used the most at the No. 2 spot behind Ian Kinsler this season. Andrus batted sixth on Saturday.
"I'm just trying something, that's all," Washington said. "I'm just hoping Leonys can spark us, along with Kinsler."
Martin can bunt for a hit, but he's not adept at dropping sacrifice bunts or executing the hit-and-run. Those are two talents that Washington looks for in a No. 2 hitter, but Martin is, at least, hot, having entered Saturday hitting .357 in his last 24 games.
"It's not a big deal. ... It's a change in the lineup, but my approach doesn't change," Martin said. "I've hit first and I've hit second before in my career, so it's not a big deal."
When the Rangers signed Martin as an amateur free agent two years ago, he was projected as developing into a top-of-the-order hitter, but the Rangers don't see him there yet.
Martin has 18 stolen bases but just 15 walks in 244 plate appearances -- that's one walk per 16.27 plate appearances. By comparison, Kinsler averages one walk every 10.64 plate appearances. Oakland's Coco Crisp leads all AL leadoff hitters, with a walk every 8.57 plate appearances.
Washington doesn't know if Martin is capable of being a leadoff hitter at this point in his development.
"Right now he's still learning," Washington said. "After he gets a few years under his belt, we'll know. Right now he's out there surviving as best he can."