Leonys Martin Key to Texas Rangers’ Success


The Texas Rangers are relying on multiple players to step up this season. Perhaps no one more than CF Leonys Martin

Q: Who is the Most Overlooked Position Player for the Texas Rangers

A: As the title of the article suggests, Leonys Martin is quite possibly the most overlooked player on this Rangers’ roster. The 5th year centerfielder from Cuba may not get the attention big named players like Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, or Elvis Andrus does, but he’s every bit as important – if not more.

Before spring training began, manager Jeff Banister hinted at a lineup shakeup by calling Leonys Martin a “strong candidate” bat in the all-important leadoff spot. It didn’t take long for Banister to make good on his proclamation and move Martin to the top of the order.

"“There is a consistency to having Leonys at the top of the lineup on a daily basis,” Banister said to Gerry Fraley of the DMN. “My mindset, the coaching staffs’ mindset, is let’s give this kid every opportunity to have all those at-bats.”"

After an endorsement like that, it’s easy to see why Leonys Martin’s stock is on the rise. Martin batted .274 with 7HR, 40 RBI and an OBP of .325 in 2014. These are respectable numbers Martin is expected to improve upon in 2015. The increased opportunities at the plate, together with his excellent speed and base-stealing ability, Leonys can be expected to have a banner season for the Rangers.

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The move to the leadoff spot is a bold one for rookie manager Jeff Banister, but it’s also potentially brilliant. The move allows Banister to move Choo to either the #2 spot of down behind Fielder and Beltre in the #5 spot.

While Elvis Andrus (last season’s leadoff hitter) is fully expected to rebound both offensively and defensively this season, it would be nice to move him to the bottom of the order against right handed pitching. Against righties, a lineup of Martin, Choo, Fielder, Beltre, and Moreland sounds pretty strong. This is all possible with Leonys Martin playing leadoff on an everyday basis.

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Defensively, Leonys Martin is as valuable as anyone on this team. The Rangers have a severe dearth of centerfielder depth. The platoon fighing over left field doesn’t appear capable of contributing positively much in center, and Delino DeShields hasn’t exactly instilled confidence in the backup situation either.

Lack of depth alone makes Leonys Martin “Key” to the Rangers in 2015, but considering how well he actually plays CF, he may qualify as a defensive cornerstone. Leonys came in #4 in MLB at ultimate zone rating. Ultimate zone rating (or UZR) looks at runs prevented or allowed and attaches appropriate scores ranging from -15 (awful) to +15 (Gold Glove). Leonys Martin earned a score of 11.3. Note: That’s the best rating on the Rangers at all positions.

Next: Cole Hamels to the Rangers?

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