V-Mart sees game as contact sport
CHICAGO -- There is no K in Victor Martinez. There aren't very many in his stat line, either.
He went eight games and 37 plate appearances between strikeouts before finally swinging and missing at a Ronald Belisario pitch in his final time up Tuesday night. If that's not impressive enough for a Major League cleanup hitter, it's not even his longest streak of the season. He went 10 games and 40 plate appearances between strikeouts from April 2-18.
Granted, it's early, but Martinez entered Wednesday's series finale against the White Sox poised to end April as the toughest batter to fan in the American League, with just three strikeouts over 89 plate appearances. Only Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, with three strikeouts spread out over 91 plate appearances, had a better rate in the Majors.
It could be written off as a small sample size if not for Martinez being the second-toughest hitter to strike out in the American League last year, fanning 62 times in 668 plate appearances, trailing only Alberto Callaspo. He was also the second-toughest in the AL to fan in 2011, the year before his season-ending knee injury.
It's not just strike three Martinez has been avoiding. He has swung and missed on just 7.5 percent of his swings on the season entering Wednesday, the best rate in baseball. He missed on just 10.5 percent of his swings in 2013, the fourth-lowest rate in the AL, and 9.3 percent of his swings in '11, also fourth-best.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has only been around to watch this season's swings, but even he has been in awe.
"I've never seen a hitter like Victor," Ausmus said. "His focus is on every single pitch. He does not give a pitch away. His focus is there every single pitch, and he's trying to get the barrel to the ball. It's amazing. He'll spoil a pitcher's pitch with the best of them."