first-division starter; Martin will stick behind home plate for the rest of his career with his skill set, pending health. I see a 3-5 win player until age 35.
Simple, balanced stance; square to the pitcher; slightly crouched; loose hands and wrists before he starts his swing; hands drift back into hitting position on time with a small leg kick; consistently on time getting front foot down; bat comes through the zone on a slightly uppercut plane and with bat speed; two-handed follow through; minimal movement throughout; head stays on the baseball; can sell out for power and jerk his head on occasion but it's rare.
Very impressive approach; rarely swings at the first pitch; in my sample of 36 at-bats in September, he swung at seven first pitches and all were within the zone; took on the roll of hitting behind Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen, so he tried to become somewhat of a run producer; doesn't give away any at-bats; adjusts to off-speed and breaking balls well; tries to work up the middle most often; doesn't mind a walk in any situation; gears up for a plus fastball; had the green light on a couple 3-0 counts.
Good makeup; revitalized his career in Pittsburgh after a strenuous departure from LA and a somewhat disappointing stint in New York; works with the pitching staff very well; plays like he wants to win and he'll do whatever it takes; intense, hard worker; adored by fans in Pittsburgh.
Plus hitter; good strength; hand-eye coordination is solid; plenty of bat speed; rarely beat by fastballs in the zone; puts a barrel to any quadrant in the strike zone; always seems to get a pitch to hit in an at-bat; in a 36 at-bat sample, he ended his at-bats with 20 hard hit balls; stays within himself most of the time; battles; definitely has a plan at the plate; you want him up in a big spot.
Below-average power; raw power is average; more gap-to-gap type of pop; some leverage; swing isn't made for plus power; line-drive/up-the-middle type of approach keeps some balls in the yard; sells out for power in favorable counts and when facing a pitcher for the second or third time in a game; don't see 20+ home runs again, but 10-15 is still possible.
Clocked 4.4 on most digs; gets down the line well; hampered by hamstring tightness late in the season; no longer a double-digit base stealer like early in his career; can still go first to third; solid baserunner; will likely slow another tick as the years go by.
Well above-average defensive catcher; blocking ability is fantastic; a knack for putting his body in the proper positions to receive the ball; agile and quick on his feet; always on the tips of his toes with runners on base, no matter the speed; can back-pick runners off of first base; framing ability is top notch; consistently gets called strikes on the outer edges of the strike zone to lefties; never takes strikes away from the pitcher; according to Baseball Prospectus, from 2008-2013 he was top four in "framing runs earned" with 91, just behind Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Molina, and Brian McCann; handles the pitching staff well; many attribute the staff's success with Martin; a very good game-caller; doesn't mind heading out to the mound multiple times in an at-bat if it's high leverage; fantastic all-around catcher.
Above-average arm; puts his body in a good position to receive the ball; very quick release helps him deliver the ball to second base with plus accuracy and carry; clocked 1.88, 1.83, and 1.90 pop times respectively; led all of MLB with 37 caught stealing and was fourth with a 38.5 caught stealing percentage.
Fantastic behind the plate; plus hitter with a great approach at the plate; field general; good game-caller.
Injuries on his record; limited power and speed; career year offensively, could see a natural decline in offensive production.
Means of Exploitation
Getting ahead with strike one is most important; he's a patient hitter, so forcing him to look to swing is big; vary first pitches; if you go with a fastball first pitch, go changeup or slider with the first pitch in the second at-bat; stay on the outer edges with the fastball as he can turn on one with ease; breaking balls and changeups down in the zone can give him a problem, as well as well located fastballs at the letters and above; be as precise as possible, and if you're going to miss, miss down in the zone with the chance he could ground out.
Martin put together a career year in his age-31 season, and it's tough to see him get any better. In fact, in all likelihood he'll regress with the bat a little, but still bring extremely valuable defense and invaluable leadership to a team that decides to sign him. If a contending team has a hole behind the plate, and ownership doesn't mind losing a first round pick, I wouldn't hesitate giving Martin three to four years and around $10-12 million a year.