J.D. Martinez was arguably the biggest surprise in baseball last season. After starting the season off the Detroit Tigers' 40-man roster, Martinez hit his way onto the MLB roster and kept his hot bat humming all year long. He hit .315/.358/.553 with 23 home runs and 76 RBI in 480 plate appearances with the Tigers in 2014 and is slated to be the team's starting right fielder in 2015.
Despite the limited sample of success, Martinez's breakout season has elevated him to the upper ranks of all MLB outfielders. His 153 wRC+ ranked sixth among all MLB outfielders, while his 3.7 WAR was tied for 23rd.
Earlier this week, MLB Network ranked Martinez the 10th best right fielder in baseball, just behind Matt Kemp of the San Diego Padres. MLB network analyst and former big league outfielder Cliff Floyd ranked Martinez sixth, while Brian Kenny did not rank Martinez among his top 10 right fielders.
Martinez primarily played left field for the Tigers in 2014, but is expected to move to right field to make room for Yoenis Cespedes in left. Martinez started 24 games in right field last season and rated as a slightly below average defender in the outfield according to defensive runs saved (DRS), ultimate zone rating (UZR), and fielding runs above average (FRAA).
|1||Giancarlo Stanton||Miami Marlins|
|2||Jose Bautista||Toronto Blue Jays|
|3||Bryce Harper||Washington Nationals|
|4||Jason Heyward||St. Louis Cardinals|
|5||Michael Cuddyer||New York Mets|
|6||Carlos Gonzalez||Colorado Rockies|
|7||Hunter Pence||San Francisco Giants|
|8||Brandon Moss||Cleveland Indians|
|9||Matt Kemp||San Diego Padres|
|10||J.D. Martinez||Detroit Tigers|
While Martinez's place on the countdown is questionable -- Yasiel Puig isn't ranked despite starting 178 of his 344 career games at the position -- the consensus among MLB analysts is that his breakout was real. Martinez probably won't hit .315 or OPS over .900 again, but projecting him to be a three win outfielder doesn't seem unreasonable.