The Struggling J.D. Martinez's Swing

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 06: J.D. Martinez #14 of the Houston Astros throws his glove after popping out to center against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on August 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Remember when David said this:

J.D.? My main problem are the reasons that have been thrown around for demoting him. If you question how his swing looks, you're falling into the same trap all those scouts did who passed on him in the draft. It's an unorthodox swing, but it's worked for him for a long time. Show me .gifs of his swing early this season and how it's changed and maybe I'll believe. But, I really think jumping on that is just picking on a player who doesn't have a cookie cutter swing.

Okay so maybe you don't remember that, but I do and I spent this past week going through games earlier in the season and comparing them to see if there is any significant changes I can pick up in his swing.Gifs will be after the jump so I don't destroy anyone's computer.

I began by looking for a point in the season in which he was hitting well. The first several games to begin the season was the easiest to identify so I targeted April 10 and April 11. By the end of the day on April 11, Martinez was hitting .364/.391/.582 with two homeruns, a double, eight hits and a walk in 23 plate appearances. He continued to hit well for the next 11 days, but I wanted to pick a point in the middle of him hitting well to look at his swing.

The lowest point In Martinez's season is June 15. So I went back a week and picked June 7, a point in which he was still trending downwards towards that low point. At the close of business June 7, J.D. was hitting .240/.341/.369 on the season. From June 7 to June 15 he would hit for a .097/.125/.290 line.

Finally, I looked at Martinez's last game before he was demoted to Oklahoma City. At that point he was batting .235/.308/.373 in 404 plate appearances.

You also may notice that I choose all home games and this was simply because I wanted on camera angel for all three gifs and I knew I would get that at the home park.

After the jump we'll take a look at an at bat from April 11, June 7 and August 9, 2012.

April 11, 2012: Here J.D. Martinez is hitting a fastball for a homerun to left-centerfield. Pitcher Randall Delgado.


June 7, 2012: Here J.D. Martinez is grounding out on a fastball to the left side of the infield on a fastball. Pitcher Lance Lynn.


August 9, 2012: Here J.D. Martinez is grounding out on a curveball to the left side of the infield. Pitcher Drew Storen.


I don't see much difference in his swing from the beginning of the season to the middle of the season to his demotion. The biggest thing I notice is that he's topping the ball in the last two gifs, when he should probably be punishing those balls considering the pitcher missed his spot and sent the pitch into a similar location as the homerun he hit.

In the other at bats I watched while grabbing these gifs I didn't see a big difference in his approach at the plate. He does seem to struggle with identifying pitches down and pitches away, but overall I thought he had a good approach at the plate. I'd like to think that's confirmed by his 9.4% walk rate this year.

To me it seems like it could be a confidence issue maybe even a timing issue, which is why he's topping balls he should be driving. I'm far from an expert in swing and hitting mechanics so maybe someone with more knowledge and experience can identfy something.

It's debatable whether sending him to AAA can help regain his confidence, but I do think this confirms what David was saying that it's not his swing. His swing is unorthodox and Astros fans should be very familiar with players that have unorthodox swings.

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