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Luhnow Released JD Martinez because of Analytics

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by rocketsjudoka, Oct 9, 2020.

  1. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

    Jul 24, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Just hearing this right now.


    Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow admits he released J.D. Martinez because of flawed analytics

    When you look at the fact that the Astros drafted J.D. Martinez in the 20th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, you immediately think of just how good a value he is at that selection. And it's true -- he's a three-time All-Star who is still one of the prominent sluggers the league has to offer, even after a down 2020 campaign.

    But as much as you can commend them for their draft pick of Martinez, you can criticize them even more for letting Martinez go just five years later, as he was released during spring training of 2014.

    The brand-new podcast “The Edge:Houston Astros,” from Cadence13 and available on RADIO.COM, focuses on the Astros’ infamous cheating scandal that rocked the baseball world, but uncovered yet another shortcoming of Luhnow’s front office over the years: an overreliance, in some cases, on analytics.

    Sure, analytics and advanced data helped them in many ways, but in the case of J.D. Martinez, it led the team to making a big mistake. Ben Reiter, the senior writer at Sports Illustrated whose 2014 cover story predicted a World Series victory for the Astros in 2017, led us through the decision-making:

    Sometimes, Luhnow’s dedication to the data led him astray. During spring training in 2014, an underperforming 26-year-old outfielder named J.D. Martinez had sworn to Luhnow that he had completely overhauled his swing during the offseason, and was seeing great results. But Luhnow had data showing that 26-year-olds almost never got better. So he cut Martinez from the team.

    A few days later, Martinez returned to Astros camp, as a member of his new team, the Detroit Tigers. And his swing definitely looked different.

    Luhnow admitted that it was a bad call.

    “That was the buzz around Astros camp -- J.D. Martinez just hit three home runs against his former teammates,” Luhnow told Reiter on the second episode, titled Stargazers. “Part of me said, ‘Uh oh, what have I done.’ The rest is history… he became one of the premier sluggers in the league for the past six, seven years.”

    That must be a good feeling: get released by a team and subsequently swat three bombs against them just days after you were cut as a member of a new team. Bravo, J.D.

    And it wasn’t like Martinez had jus that one, brief shining moment. His career stats in Houston over parts of three seasons amounted to 24 home runs and a slash line of .251/.300/.387. In 2014, his first season with the Tigers, he hit 23 home runs and slashed .315/.358/.553. If that’s not improvement at age 26, I don’t know what is.

    And if a follow-up season of 38 home runs and 102 RBI isn’t another tier of improvement after age 26, I’m not sure what is. From then on, he never looked back, averaging 36 home runs, 102 RBI and a .312/.385/.600 slash line over the next four seasons with Detroit, Arizona and his current home, Boston.

    Obviously, the Astros and Luhnow have much, much bigger regrets, which you can hear all about by listening to the rest of this revealing podcast series. But letting a player like J.D. Martinez go for free as he entered his prime? That’s a mistake that’s too hard to ignore.
    joshuaao, RayRay10 and Joshfast like this.
  2. msn

    msn Member

    Dec 31, 2002
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    It's actually easy enough to ignore when I look at that World Series ring.
  3. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member

    Jun 25, 2002
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    It's baseball. Could've had a team with Johan Santana, Kenny Lofton, Bobby Abreu, along with Biggio, Bagwell, Cammy, etc., etc. Every team has this list.
  4. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

    Mar 12, 2012
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    In context there were a lot of good and bad moves during Luhnow’s tenure, but in terms of negative consequences, releasing Martinez was huge. Imagine: keeping Martinez means less need for an OF in 2015, which means no Gomez/Fiers trade. Which means they keep Josh Hader, which means no Giles/Osuna trades. No Fiers means no cheating scandal. No Osuna means no Taubman scandal. Certainly plausible that had they kept Martinez, Luhnow is still the GM and Houston is still a beloved franchise.
  5. jim1961

    jim1961 Member

    Jan 26, 2010
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    Reddick had a higher OPS than JDM in the 2020 regular season.

    Just sayin'.
  6. jiggyfly

    jiggyfly Member
    Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2015
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    Still have no issue with the Giles/Osuna trade and you sure are extrapolating a lot there were rumblings about the astros before Fiers seems the MLB was just looking for a reason.
  7. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

    Feb 28, 1999
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    They still likely attempt to orchestrate the cheating scandal as long as Beltran/Cora still on board. Who knows... maybe Martinez benefits greatly from it and it continues and escalates and ALL the years are implicated, not just 2017... when teams/ex-players finally have enough. I know Martinez blames the lack of getting to watch video this year on why he wasn’t as good.... he embraces technology.

    Safe to say there’d be another whistle-blower down the road... unless Fiers is just a lone-wolf outlier of a player.
    joshuaao and RayRay10 like this.
  8. SuraGotMadHops

    Nov 10, 2009
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    It's asinine to think a young GM (or even a veteran GM) won't miss on some things here and there. The key is learning and improving. Luhnow is on record saying he didn't let go of Brad Peacock after learning not to give up on guys too early, like JD, and to a lesser extent, Dan Straily. That worked out well for the Astros, especially in 2017.
    awc713, joshuaao and crose like this.
  9. TheRealist137

    TheRealist137 Member

    Jan 27, 2009
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    When will Morey admit that bad analytics caused him to make bad moves? Or is he too arrogant to admit it?
  10. Supermac34

    Supermac34 President, Von Wafer Fan Club

    Mar 31, 2000
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    It wasn’t just analytics. He was a 25 year old prospect with 3 years of sub .700 OPS batting under his belt.

    He was also regressing each year he played for them.
    msn, awc713, joshuaao and 2 others like this.
  11. Hank McDowell

    Hank McDowell Member

    Jun 13, 2002
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    He looked like a 25 year old AAAA player when they cut him loose. I had no issue with it at the time whatsoever. I’m glad he turned it around, but there’s no way anyone could have known for sure that he would.
    msn, Poloshirtbandit, awc713 and 2 others like this.

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