I’d wanted to do something funny involving Buck Martinez because I figured some of my friends who are Blue Jays fans might get a kick out of it -and/or- I’m upset the Brewers lost today, so I’m getting revenge…or, both (and, I wish them a Happy Canada Day, regardless), so I drew made this picture at a furious pace after the game…
Former Milwaukee Brewers catcher (1978-80…not great at hitting baseballs, but provided some decent defensive value) and current play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays, Buck Martinez, in an infinite loop.
He started 227 games with the Brewers. Pitchers amassed 3.91, 3.81 and 3.91 ERAs in games caught by Martinez. He also pitched an inning against the Royals, once (which ended up being an 18-8 KC win), giving up a walk to LF Willie Wilson, 2 groundouts, and then a double by designated hitter Hal McRae on which Wilson scored. In 1980, he was 5th best in the AL in Total Zone Runs above average (6) with an above league average 39% CS% (in 1979, he managed 43% CS%) In his time with the Brewers, he also had 5 pickoffs and 8 runners thrown out at 3rd. So…then, this leads me to think he must have had a good arm. I wasn’t alive then, so this is a guess. Maybe he was overrated, or maybe not. We don’t know about his pitch framing. I’ll bet he could easily have been good at it and easily have been average or bad at it.
A cool stat on baseball reference I didn’t realize was on there (until I looked up good old Buck–so I’d have something to actually type along with this illustration) is CSlev, the leverage index for the stolen bases. It’s scaled like pitching LI, where one is average and higher means higher-leverage. Anyhow, in 1979 & 1980, the CSlev for his runners thrown out was 1.21 and then 1.14.
Really, the easier thing would have been if I just said he exited Milwaukee (via trade with Toronto) having put up 2.4 defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR/bb-ref) and -0.3 oWAR. So, Buck Martinez was a catcher who did not hit well, but did a decent job slowing the running game and handling the pitching staffs on Brewers teams that won 93, 95, and 86* games. Thankfully, Ted Simmons, who actually could hit baseballs, landed in Milwaukee the following season after Martinez left.
*This 86W total after having scored 811 runs and allowing 682, good for a Pythagorean W-L of 94-68. By comparison, the 1978 club scored a superb 804 R while allowing 650 R. That’s baseball, though…and Buck Martinez talks like a talking bassoon, too, which I wanted to remember to add. Or more oboe-ish, maybe. English horn? Something double-reedy.