Game 73: When J.D. Martinez kept on hitting

At what point in a baseball schedule does a hot streak become something more?

That’s the question the Tigers might well face if J.D. Martinez keeps doing this.

It’s not something coming up yet. Martinez has taken this tear into a second week, but plenty of hitting tears have gone longer than a week. When Brad Ausmus and Torii Hunter have talked about Martinez sticking in the lineup, it’s been about playing the hot hand.

“J.D.’s swinging the bat very well,” Ausmus said after Martinez’s double and go-ahead homer Tuesday night. “And as long as he’s swinging the bat like he is, we’re going to continue to get him in there.”

He’s not going to hit like THIS the rest of the year. But nobody knows what he will hit like on his way back to earth. Is he this year’s version of Matt Tuiasosopo, who blistered baseballs for the first few months for a 1.070 OPS in the season’s first half and then hit for just a .429 OPS after the All-Star break?

Is he this year’s version of Brennan Boesch, who fell off after the All-Star break in his rookie season but still had key hits in him?

Is he this year’s version of Marcus Thames, who turned a hot stretch into a second chance at a Major League career that lasted well beyond his standout first season? Remember, Martinez is just 26 years old.

Plenty of people have their ideas. Nobody seems to know.

“I’d be foolish to think J.D. is going to hit like this the rest of the year,” Ausmus said, “but I’m not going to take him out of the lineup right now just in case he hits like this the rest of the year.”

When asked if the prolonged stretch could suggest something more than a hot streak, Ausmus said, “I hope you’re right. I hope it’s more than just a hot streak. I hope he’s confident.

“He’s clearly a guy people thought had the potential to be a power hitter at the Major League level at a young age. Maybe he’s gotten more experience under his belt and he’s kind of revamped his swing. Maybe he is that player they thought he was and maybe he is coming into that. I hope he is.”

He’s definitely confident. But he also isn’t at the point where he considers this recent stretch a hot streak for him.

“To me, I just feel like I’m not missing as many pitches as I was earlier,” Martinez said. “To me, a hot streak is [when] you’re going 4-for-4, 3-for-4, 4-for-4, 3-for-4, 2-for-4, 3-for-4. When you’re doing that for a week, now you’re hot. I definitely hit the ball well for a week, but it’s just another week, another day. Now you’ve just got to go out there and look at the next guy tomorrow, worry about hitting him. …

“I honestly just feel I can cover more pitches. I can cover the inside pitch and I can cover the outside pitch more. When you’re going through one of those things, it doesn’t feel like a pitch is too in or too far.”

If it was one homer, maybe the term “just” applies. He has homered five times in eight games since the start of last week, and he’s 14-for-31 with 11 RBIs in that stretch. He has a 13-game hitting streak in which he’s 21-for-51 with seven doubles, 15 RBIs and eight runs scored.

He’s centering everything right now, and he’s hitting it up the middle. He isn’t pull-heavy, and he hasn’t gotten much benefit by going opposite-field.

“When I’m going good, I’m hitting a lot of balls in the air to center, right-center, left-center,” Martinez said. “When I’m not, I’m hitting a lot of balls on the ground. That’s just my swing. If you ask any hitter, they’re usually trying to hit everything back up the middle. That’s just my approach. That’s all I’m trying to do every time I go up there.”


He’s on quite a stretch…….
Wow I went to bed early last night excited to wake up and see they won and not only did they win they win big. (Extra bonus KC, Minnie and Indians lost)
Let’s not forget Chris Shelton how long did his hot streak last?

just gonna enjoy it while it lasts! Am going to look up how we got him and from where, if he ends up being the bat we have been looking for then it was a great trade

He was released by Houston and signed as a minor league free agent.


IMO Martinez had a lot more potential than Shelton. Shelton lasted about a month if I remember correctly. He was a 1B whereas Martinez plays LF. I don’t think Shelton was ever highly regarded – or maybe I’m wrong about that – but Martinez was highly regarded (at one point).

Chris Shelton in 2005 played 107 games, 431 plate appearances. He was the starting 1stbaseman for the Tigers that year. He hit .299 with 18 homers and OPS .870. Then he had that hot start to 2006 that everyone remembers.
The question wasn’t about a hot streak, it was what happened to a good young hitter.

Shelton was a perfect example of what can happen to a young hitter when demons invade the mind and kill the confidence. After that hot start in 06, it seemed he was 0-2 in every single at bat. He was watching pitches right down the middle and swinging at pitches out of the zone. He was indecisive and his confidence vanished. Couple that with the trade for Casey and being left off the playoff roster and it was over in Detroit. I was a little surprised that he did not get back to the bigs with somebody else other than a brief stint with Texas I think.
The Tigers took him in the Rule 5 one year from Pittsburgh I think. He was a good hitting catcher in their system with no defensive skills. The Tigers tried him at 1B and when he came up in 2005 I am pretty sure he took a struggling Carlos Pena’s job. In 2005 he looked like a steal and that we was going to be playing 1b in Detroit for a long time. There was never a doubt Shelton could hit for average but what happened to him after the first month of 06 still boggles my mind.
— Bob

All that “Orange Crush” nonsense laid on him. He went from a guy with a beautiful opposite field stroke to homer happy. He didn’t hit quite as poorly the remainder of 2006 as some think, but acquiring Sean Casey was a good transaction.
I saw Shelton in the minors in 2007 and he looked like his old self. Didn’t translate to the bigs, I guess. Sometimes there are other issues too.

The question tonight is if Kinsler gets drilled. If he does, he should get up and trot down to first. Case closed. No further retaliation. Old school code.

waaaait. what for? the wave? did we hit someone?

He waved to the dugout after the HR. He eraned being drilled

I remember Shelton well. Mrs. Rich was very fond of the young feller as I recall!!!

Yeah……….that’s how I ended up in Richmond VA seeing him play. Jason spotted her Shelton jersey at ST this year.

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