As we wait to see if Game 4 of the American League Championship Series can be played without a further rain delay tonight, a few thoughts on Victor Martinez's tortoise-like tater trot last night.
First off, the official time on V-Mart's trot comes in at 34.42 seconds. This is the slowest trot of 2011, but not the slowest trot in the Tater Trot Tracker's two-year history. That honor belongs to Luke Scott, who had his own injury-ravaged trot slowed down to 35.76 seconds on June 30, 2010.
Scott pulled his hamstring rounding first base and was forced to almost walk around the bases. Martinez, on the other hand, strained his oblique, a part of the body much less directly associated with running, so, while the injury is an obvious explanation for Martinez's near-record slow time, it isn't the full explanation.
Martinez is a slow trotter and his injury Tuesday exacerbated it. If he were a more speedy runner to begin with, his trot would never have reached 34.42 seconds. There's nothing wrong with this, of course, but it should be pointed out. For example, Martinez took a full 28.0 seconds to complete his tater trot on September 13. That's not too abnormal, of course, but it was only one of a string of super-slow trots. His quickest trot in September came on September 5, when he needed only 26.78 seconds to circle the bases. September 25 gave us a 28.51 seconds trot, but Martinez's slowest trot was, far and away, September 7.
Martinez nearly broke the 30-second barrier that day, completing his trot in 29.91 seconds. V-Mart hasn't exactly been playing healthy this season, but the slow trots are just as much a result of his baserunning technique as his natural speed and body's health. Watch any Martinez home run and you'll notice that he stutter steps about three times before touching the third base bag and then slows down nearly into a walk as he approaches home plate. They all add up.
That said, can we compare V-Mart's oblique-strained trot from last night to his 29.91 second, grand slam trot from September? Sure, why not!
ALCS Game 3
|1st Base:||???||8.56 seconds|
|2nd Base:||15.77 seconds||15.94 seconds|
|3rd Base:||22.19 seconds||24.17 seconds|
|Home:||29.91 seconds||34.42 seconds|
As you can see, Martinez was no slower to second base Tuesday night than he was in September even with the stumble out of the box (the September first base time was impossible to get thanks to a long-shot on a giddy Justin Verlander). The injury must have started to affect him as he rounded second base, because the 90 foot trip that took him 6.4 seconds in September increased on 8.2 seconds last night. It continued on the turn home. A 7.7 second trek last month took a full 10.25 seconds Monday, much of that thanks to Martinez's early ease into a walk.
Martinez continued to play in Monday's game after the home run, and he has even started the game tonight. The strained oblique must not have affected his overall health as much as it did his trot Monday night.