Is Chris Martin the most underrated reliever on the Braves? Likely. Is he one of the most underrated relievers in the entire Majors? Also likely. Despite being a Sasquatch-esque presence on the mound, Chris Martin flies under the radar and I’m sure that’s exactly what Alex Anthopoulos wants to continue past 2021.
2020 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Chris Martin
On Friday, July 24th, real Braves baseball was being played. There was no smell of hot dogs, beer, popcorn, but it was a good day nonetheless. Mike Soroka took the mound, threw 6 shutout innings outlasting Jacob DeGrom in a pitcher’s duel. The scoreboard was empty for both parties until Yoenis Cespedes strolled to the mound and did this…
Unfortunately for Martin and the Braves, that was the only run scored on the day and the Mets went home winners and Cespedes went home thinking “I’m BACK BABAY!”. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were only winners 25 more times in 2020 and finished as the cellar dwellers of the NL East. Cespedes’s time in the limelight was short-lived as he continued his reign of suckage to the point that it even annoyed himself and he opted out of the season after a bizarre disappearance on August 2. Mets gonna Met, but Martin, fortunately, is no Met.
The next 16 games were a master stroke for Martin as he continued to do what he does best, which is to limit baserunners and get people out. He gave up 5 hits, walked 2, struck out 18 and gave up 0 runs. 16 clean innings of sweet dominance. On the 2020 season, Martin pitched in 18 games and only gave up runs in 2 of the 18. His final line on the year:
- 18 IP
- 1.00 ERA,
- 0.61 WHIP
- 10.5 K/9
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better stat-line in the bigs. While the K’s might be more gaudy, the 1.5 BB/9 combined witht he 10.5 K/9 is the real gem here and he’s been doing it since he put on an MLB uniform.
Martin is under team control for the 2021 season for $7MM and will be a free agent come 2022. While I don’t expect an in-season extension for Martin, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Anthopoulos re-sign a reliever that continues to dominate without the name recognition.
Also, this gem.
Thanks for reading 2020 Braves Player Review: Chris Martin. If you enjoyed this piece, check out another great piece by one of our writers.
He’s been terrific!
But I’m not sure how underrated he is, just given how expensive he was — Kolby Allard was a pretty steep price for a 33-year-old setup man with virtually no track record of success in the majors. As it happened, Anthopoulos was absolutely right to bet on his extremely recent success, as he often is, and it completely worked out. But while Martin may be underrated by casual fans, he certainly wasn’t undervalued by the market.
And not only did we give up Allard, we did so so that we could pay Martin $7M per, which is probably right at market value. I mean, he’s good, but gave up a lot to get him when he really had no surplus value.
I totally forgot about Kolby Allard. I swear, if he joins Wisler and Sims as effective relievers, I’m gonna be pissed.
People in the org were very meh on Allard and for good reason.
Also, Lucas Sims has 20 games of proven success in 4 years and Wisler has 25.1 in 6 years.
The Braves have apparently invited Gwinnett, Mississippi, Rome and Augusta to be their minor league affiliates for the coming year, in that order from top to bottom. That means Rome moves from low-A to high-A. The Augusta GreenJackets (which I’ve always thought is a high-quality minor-league name BTW) have been affiliated with multiple teams over the years, most recently San Francisco as their low-A affiliate since 2005. The Florida Fire Frogs and Danville Braves are no longer part of the team’s minor league organization. (The Appalachian League is moving to a summer wooden bat league and is leaving Minor League Baseball entirely.)
This puts three of the Braves’ minor league affiliates within a day trip of Atlanta, and the other one is well within “Braves Country,” so that’s a positive.
Gwinnett and Mississippi will stay in the International and Southern leagues, respectively. It seems as though the South Atlantic League may split, with one half going up to high-A. If so, Rome would go with that group and Augusta would stay in the low-A group.
@3, again, it’s turned out to be a good trade, and I was happy to pay it at the time since the pen was such a clear need, but a major league-ready back end starter with 5-6 years of team control is a pretty high price. Far as I can tell, that’s not too different from what the White Sox paid for Lance Lynn.
Fair. But if we wake up in 2021 and the amount of success by Allard, Wisler, and Sims increases exponentially, then it’s going to continue to make me question whether the rebuild juice is worth the squeeze.
But overall, we seem to be in agreement since someone like Touki is still in the organization, and we both agree that he should be in the pen.
And if we keep ending up just short in the playoffs, then it’s going to be fair to wonder what might have been if the money used on, say, Charlie Morton or Will Smith could have been used elsewhere because an internal candidate effectively occupied that free agent’s spot. What if we signed a real 3B instead of playing Mark Melancon? What if we end up in this offseason with a mediocre LF because we have $11M going to Smyly? These are fair questions.
IMO, Allard was in a different boat. He was drafted as a lefty that could hit 95 and when he got to the bigs, he couldn’t break 90. Trading him was the ultimate sell low, but it also could’ve been looked at as a sell high if the Braves saw that his stock would’ve just plummeted from there. That’s what happened to both Wisler and Sims, and yes, they team should’ve seen what they could do in the bullpen, especially during a rebuild.
Blazon from the last thread, the Fangraphs obit of Dick Allen has a clip of Allen ending Ryan’s no-hit bid in the first game you saw. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/reckoning-with-dick-allen-1942-2020/
Three thoughts from the clip:
1) The first things I saw and heard were Dick Allen batting against Nolan Ryan and Harry Caray saying the only run had scored on a Frank Robinson homer off Jim Kaat – that’s three Hall of Famers (I believe Harry’s in the broadcasters’ wing) and two almost-theres in the space of about ten seconds.
2) I liked Harry’s comment about Ryan’s pitch selection, “It’s all powder river,” which I assume is a reference to gunpowder and fastballs, though maybe not. Good to hear an announcer so enthusiastic about a game even when it was his team being no-hit.
3)I think most third basemen today make that play, and if they don’t, it’s more likely to be called an error.
@7, yeah, but Allard is back up into the 90s now.
Of all the people I know, you three would have been the least likely to plunge into the what if pool. It’s easier to predict the past than future. The right now keeps me fully occupied.
Oh, heck, I’m glad we cashed him in, just don’t think it’s fair to diminish him too much. He’s more than chopped liver, that’s all.
By the way, this Greek metal band put out one of the best (or at least one of my unexpectedly favorite) albums of the year.
I thank you. I had asked the stranger next to me why the home crowd was showing its increasing appreciation for the opposing pitcher. With great patience he described Ryan’s fame was such many wanted him to throw a no hitter in front of them, so they could say in perpetuity they were there. I was beginning to understand baseball’s hold on its fans.