With the 2021 season having come to a close, we are looking back at the year that was for members of the Texas Rangers.
Today we are looking at pitcher Brett Martin.
Take a moment to close your eyes, empty your mind, and summon up the image of Brett Martin.
Can you do it?
I’m guessing not.
Brett Martin has spent almost three full seasons in the majors for the Texas Rangers, has been generally effective and useful in the bullpen, and yet hasn’t seemed to register in any meaningful form or fashion in our brains in that time. I was going to say he’s been forgettable, but that is a loaded term, suggesting that he’s performed poorly or in a way that makes us want to erase him from our minds, wants us to purge him from our memories and pretend he never existed, never donned a Ranger uniform. Like, say, Jeanmar Gomez, or Dave Bush, or Matt Moore.
And that’s not been the case. Brett Martin has performed well for the Rangers. He’s been a useful player who has been worthy of a roster spot and a role on a good team. The Rangers have a bunch of problems, but Brett Martin isn’t one.
Nevertheless, Brett Martin has been, from a baseball standpoint, faceless, unmemorable, almost generic. He’s not dominant. He doesn’t blow people away. If we look at his Statcast page, he’s smack dab in the middle — right at 50% — in fastball velocity percentile rankings. He doesn’t miss many bats — he’s in the bottom 6% in K rate in 2021, and the bottom 23% in whiff rate. But he doesn’t walk people, either — he’s in the 91st percentile in walk rate — and he doesn’t give up hard contact, landing in the 97th percentile in barrel rate and 87th percentile in hard hit rate. He’s your classic strike throwing induce-weak-contact type of pitcher.
Martin throws four pitchers — four seamer, sinker, slider, curve — and threw them all about the same amount in 2021, ranging from a high of 30.3% for the sinker and a low of 21.1% for the curveball. None of them have a ton of movement, but he can throw them all for strikes, and can command them well enough that batters usually can’t tee off on him.
Martin had very few disaster outings — in 66 games, he had one outing apiece of two, three four, and five earned runs allowed, as well as an outing where he allowed two unearned runs. In his other 61 appearances he allowed either 0 or 1 runs. That no doubt contributes to his anonymity — few meltdowns, and a bunch of acceptable performances that all blend together.
With a 3.18 ERA, a 3.54 FIP, and a 3.47 xERA in 2021, Brett Martin was a perfectly cromulent middle reliever for the Rangers. Martin is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, and is entering his age 27 season. He either has three or four years of team control remaining — I believe it is four years of team control, but he’s not being identified as a Super Two, and while it appears to me that he didn’t spend enough time in the majors to earn a full year of service time, I could be wrong. In any case, he’s relatively young, he’s cheap, he’s under team control for a while, and he’s shown himself to be a useful pitcher, which means that he could be part of the Rangers plans for the next few years, or he could be moved this offseason to a team in contention now that needs immediate bullpen help.
Brett Martin feels like one of those guys where we look up down the road and see he’s quietly logged a dozen years in the majors and made a good amount of money as a nice reliever who no one ever thinks about. That’s not a bad thing at all, I don’t think.