Monday, March 01, 2010

Is Russell Martin Too Buff?

Hopefully, this will be the last time we talk about Russell Martin's physical shape. But after his woeful 2009, everything he does is subject to scrutiny. And what he did this off-season was get big. Adding 25 pounds of muscle to reach 231. "Like a linebacker," he told the LA Times' Dylan Hernandez.

Being big and strong is never a bad thing for most athletes, but I can't help but wonder if Martin has added 25 lbs. of overreaction to his getting leaner and more flexible through yoga last off-season. Doing the exact opposite of what didn't work isn't necessarily the answer.

On the other hand, it makes sense for Martin to have addressed his most glaring drop-off: hitting for power. He had a career-high 19 HRs in 2007, but only seven last year, when, amazingly, his SLG was 23 points below his OBP. If Martin's extra muscle doesn't slow down his bat speed, the extra bases will certainly follow. But would added power come at the expense of endurance?

Which brings us back to square one. Martin took up yoga in an attempt to avoid his late-season fade of 2008. Can he split the difference between 2008 and 2009? Whatever the result, Martin's performance will be one of the top Dodgers stories in 2010.

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers