Zoning in on Leonys Martin

ZoningIn24_Martin

Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Hisashi Iwakuma.

Starting the day he took over as general manager of the Mariners, Jerry Dipoto made clear his intentions to improve the team’s athleticism and put together a club more fit to play in the confines of Safeco Field. That plan became reality in a big way when he acquired Leonys Martin in a trade with the Rangers.

“With Leonys Martin, we get one of the premier defensive center fielders in baseball. He’s been among the best in the league over the past three years,” Dipoto said at the time of the trade.

His manager, Scott Servais, echoed those thoughts, underscoring how strategy became reality in bringing in the skilled glove man.

“With how we want to build our team, that’s a key acquisition for us,” Servais said in speaking with Greg Johns of Mariners.com. “We’re going for athleticism and defense, especially in the outfield, and he rates at the top of the list in all the defensive metrics and can really throw. If you look at how our pitching is lined up, we’ve got some fly-ball pitchers, which plays to our advantage at Safeco Field. It kind of all comes together.”

To lay it all out, the metrics do indeed back up Martin as one of the game’s very best center fielders. Over the past three seasons, he ranks second in defensive runs saved for center fielders according to Fangraphs, behind only the Mets’ Juan Lagares. In both UZR and defensive WAR, he’s fourth over that same span, clearly in the upper echelon.

But one area where he really separates himself is with the arm. Over the past three seasons, no outfielder in baseball, whether in center or a corner, has contributed as much value with his arm as Martin. Eric Blankenship of Lookout Landing ran the numbers and found Leonys’ is one of the best of all time. Last year, he had an outfield assist clocked at 99.5 miles per hour.

While the Mariners are excited to have Martin roaming Safeco Field’s expanses, Martin’s equally excited to be here.

“I love Safeco Field. I have to say thank you, God, that it’s going to be my home ballpark. I love everything about it. The fans. The clubhouse. The ballpark. The city. I love Seattle. I’m going to love playing there.”

Off the Field

When we first had the opportunity to sit down with Leonys Martin at Spring Training, during interviews for MarinersVision, he said one of his dreams is to meet Ken Griffey Jr. Well, sometimes dreams come true.

Martin is a native of Cuba and he says when he’s not playing baseball, he enjoys fishing. And judging by his Instagram, he’s pretty good at it.

Leonys fishing

Highlights

 

 

 

 

Photos

More in the Zoning In on the 2016 Mariners Series:

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