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BotB Shorts: José Martínez and the 5th spot in the lineup

There was a big to-do in some circles last season with Yadier Molina taking a majority of his hacks at the fifth spot in the lineup. That's an important spot because it follows the best hitters in an average lineup and therefore provides a lot of runs-batted-in opportunities, and Molina only had a 94 wRC+ last season. Meaning he was a slightly below average hitter, even though 85 percent of his plate appearances in 2017 were from the fifth spot. (It should be noted, Molina was also slightly better overall than the league average for catchers, which was at 91 wRC+.)

Here are some splits to show you how Molina compared to the rest of the NL in 2017 when batting in the fifth spot as measured by wRC+:


Molina: 99 wRC+

NL Average: 104 wRC+

With runners on base

Molina: 103 wRC+

NL Average: 105 wRC+

With runners in scoring position

Molina: 113 wRC+

NL Average: 113 wRC+

With runners on base and two outs

Molina: 76 wRC+

NL Average: 102 wRC+

With runners in scoring position and two outs

Molina: 95 wRC+

NL Average: 111 wRC+

It's by no means a horror show, but Molina was pretty much below league average across the board in 2017. Especially so when there were two outs.

I thought of this in the bottom of the 1st during today's game against the Diamondbacks when José Martínez came up to the plate in the fifth spot with two outs, two men aboard, and promptly singled to tie the game. Then, as typing this, he conveniently hit a three-run home run to put the Cardinals up by three in the bottom of the 3rd. A lot has been written already about Martínez, with the conclusion being that even though he doesn't have a huge resume, his bat is for real. And he should be better suited for that fifth spot this season.

Also, if curious, following that home run, Martínez is now hitting .385/.452/.615 for the year. It's early but that'll do.

Credit to FanGraphs Splits Leaderboards for the stats in this post.


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