Sunday, December 2, 2012

#263 Renie Martin - San Francisco Giants

It's not unusual to see a player in this motion on a card but most of the time when we see the hands over the head, it's a staged pose.  However, Renie Martin's 4th Topps card catches him in action on the mound.  The orange and brown borders go great with the Giants' uniforms and orange wall in the background. 
Player:  Renie Martin was a 19th round pick of the Royals in '77 and was pitching in the majors two years later.  Called up in May '79, he appeared in 25 games, all in relief, and pitched a little better than his 5.19 ERA indicates.  Kansas City used Martin as a swing man in 1980 and he made 20 starts with 12 relief appearances.  He went 10-10 with a 4.39 for the AL Champs and appeared in long relief for the Royals in the World Series.  He allowed three runs in 9.2 innings but did not factor in a decision.
Martin was used exclusively out of the pen in '81 and had his best season.  In 61.2 frames he saved 4 games with a 2.77 ERA and 130 ERA+.  In the '81 ALDS he pitched 5.1 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in two relief outings. 
After the season the Royals traded Martin to the Giants in the Vida Blue trade.  He began the year in the pen and was sent down at the end of April to stretch him out in preparation to join the rotation.  He came back in May and made 25 starts on the year.  He logged a career high 141.1 innings, but walked more than he struck out (64/63) and finished with a 4.65 ERA. 
Martin spent most of '83 pitching in middle relief, but control problems plagued him and he walked 51 in 94 innings.  His 4.20 ERA doesn't seem too bad but his WHIP was over 1.5 for the second year in a row.
Martin was stationed in AAA Phoenix for most of '84 and was traded to the Phillies in August.  He finished the year with a 4.15 ERA  and 1.897 WHIP in 39 innings.  Martin was released after the season and he spent the rest of playing career at the AAA level.
Stuff:  Mid 80's fastball, slider, curve

Flipside:  It seems curious to me that KC would turn Martin into a starter in 1980.  Looking at their staff however, reveals that they weren't very deep and had a few injuries to veterans who may have otherwise been better options such as Ken Brett and Steve Busby. 
The top of the rotation was solid with Larry Gura and Dennis Leonard combining for 563 innings with ERA's of 2.95 and 3.79 respectively.  Paul Splittorff and Rich Gale each logged around 200 innings and were about league average.  Dan Quisenberry pitched in 75 games while pitching 128 innings in relief.  After Quiz and Martin, middle reliever Marty Pattin was the most used arm on the the crew with 89 innings in 37 games.  After those seven pitchers, no other KC hurler had more than 31 innings. 
In the end it didn't really matter since teams don't need a 5th starter in the playoffs anyway.
Oddball:  Martin was a .301 lifetime hitter.  In 83 career at bats he ripped 25 hits, including three doubles and three triples.  He was quite a hacker as he never took a base on balls.  Strangely, in his minor league career he was only 1-17. 

History:  Martin is best remembered as the 5th starter on the 1980 AL champion Royals.  He had mediocre control and lacked an out pitch which led to a 237/256 strikeout to walk ratio.  Martin did his best work in the postseason, allowing just three runs in 15 innings of work. 

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