There is no question it has been a disappointing year for Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin. The native of East York, Ontario was only batting .224 this season, his lowest batting average since playing with the New York Yankees in 2012.
However, before Blue Jays Nation starts to criticize him for lack of consistency while up to bat and his annual salary of $20 million, remember he was brought in to the Blue Jays team for one thing primarily—and that was to help make the Blue Jays pitching staff better. In analyzing the numbers, one could argue that Martin has been the best Blue Jays catcher since Pat Borders, because he has been instrumental in helping the Blue Jays get to the playoffs in two of his three seasons in Toronto.
Martin has only played in 85 games this season due to shoulder and oblique ailments, and his absence behind home plate is one of one zillion reasons why the Blue Jays will not make the playoffs this season. However there is no doubt he has had a positive impact and has excellent leadership skills.
Blue Jays fans need to also realize that Martin is the best Canadian Blue Jays player ever, and his patriotism for Canada is very strong. Even though Martin was born in Ontario, he also has strong links to Quebec and France, as he lived in both places growing up. As Martin progressed in baseball during high school, he lived in Quebec and represented the province in Baseball Canada competitions.
Tonight’s game between the Blue Jays and Red Sox at Fenway Park will be very special for me. I will have the opportunity to watch Martin play for the Blue Jays. However it will not be the first time I get to see Martin play up close. I was in Arizona in 1999 with the Canadian National Junior Team, and saw Martin play not catcher but third base. So who was Canada’s catcher while Martin played third? The answer was 2006 American League most valuable player Justin Morneau.