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Leonys Martin: A star in the making

Leonys Martin: A star in the making

Credit: Getty Images

Leonys Martin #2 of the Texas Rangers celebrates after hitting a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

by PATRICK DESPAIN

WFAA Sports

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 5:14 PM

If you look at the Rangers statistics to date, you will find a few interesting tidbits of information. For example, Prince Fielder has been intentionally walked nine times already. If you look even deeper at the Rangers stats, there is a trend that jumps out. That trend is that Leonys Martin is having an exceptional year. He is currently tied for the RBI lead with Alex Rios with 19 less at-bats, second in stolen bases, is hitting .309 and leads the team in triples with two. Leonys Martin is growing up in front of us, and this is going to be a special ride.

Martin was always projected as a player who could reach All-Star potential by great minds like ESPN's Keith Law. While he has yet to find his power potential, Leonys is quietly building a career that would rival players who get more recognition. A lot of that recognition stems from the fact that Leonys plays in Texas. I would be willing to place a large bet that if he played in Yankee Stadium, the nation would hear a lot more about Leonys Martin. The Rangers' centerfielder is special. How special?
 
Leonys has a career slash line of .262/.314/.389 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) only nine career homers and 46 stolen bases. 
 
All-Star Jason Heyward has a career slash of .256/.349/.435 with many more homers but also has four seasons under his belt to Martin's one.
 
Michael Bourn, a two-time All-Star, has a career slash of .271/.335/.365. Bourne will make $13.5 million this year. Leonys will make about $10 million less than that.
 
World Series champion Shane Victorino has numbers of .277/.341/.433, while Angel Pagan is at .283/.334/.423.
 
Leonys Martin has the talent to be better than each of those players. Will it come to fruition? Who knows, but the way he has started 2014, it looks like he may have taken a step forward. Comparing those guys mentioned above is a little like comparing apples and oranges due to the short career of Martin so far. However, comparisons like that are good for showing what one player can do. 
 
In the short, 24-game season that has occured, Leonys' slash is .309/.364/.407. For those who think three simple averages do not tell the story of a player then I offer bWAR (Wins Above Replacement using Baseball-Reference).
 
In 2013, Leonys Martin compiled a bWAR of 3.1, meaning he was three wins better than a replacement player of AAA like talent. A bWAR of 3.1 was better than Matt Holliday, Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and a slew of others.
 
Rangers manager Ron Washington had this to say of his budding center fielder on April 19:
 
"Martin has gotten better. But I think he's got 40-something at-bats, so I'm not going to go put a saddle on that and ride it just yet," he said. "He's looking better, he's making adjustments. If you come back in June and ask me about him and he's still doing well, then I'll saddle him up."
 
Not to fact-check the veteran manager, but Martin had 54 at-bats at the time of that interview. He was batting .315. Knowing how effective Martin has been with the bat and with the glove in his short time as a Ranger, Wash said he doesn't want it to get to Leonys's head.
 
"I don't want Martin reading how good he is, I just want him to keep playing," Washington said.
 
It's still not time to saddle him up just yet, according to Wash's schedule. But it may just be time to start getting the saddle out and start conditioning the leather, because Martin has kept playing, and at a high level. His .309 batting average has come over 81 at-bats now, and he has eight hits in his last eight games.
 
Leonys Martin is going to be an All-Star someday. If he were wearing pinstripes it would be this year. His talent level is comparable to well known veterans that have garnered MVP consideration. Sit back and enjoy the ride Ranger fans, because its going to be smooth sailing as far as Leonys Martin is concerned. Once the nation catches on to how good Leonys Martin is, you'll hear about him on Baseball Tonight or MLB Whip Around.
 
Look out world, here comes Leonys.

Patrick Despain is the former CEO of ShutdownInning.com and co-host of a new Rangers podcast launching later this month. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickDespain or reach him by email at pdespain@gmail.com.

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