KBO, Triple-A home run king struggles all month long

The KBO is not doing well. Jason Martin (28) of the NC Dinos, who led Triple-A in home runs last year (32), has been struggling.

After struggling throughout this year’s exhibition games, Martin seemed to find his groove with a multi-hit, two-RBI performance in the final game of the exhibition season, and heading into the regular season, he hit a much-anticipated home run in Game 2 of the opening series against Samsung, raising expectations for what’s to come. But that was it for Martin in April. After playing just four games in April, he was sidelined with a micro-injury to his adductor muscle.

He rehabbed for about a month and returned on May 9 against KT, but Martin has been slow to adjust to the KBO. After hitting his second home run of the season against Kiwoom on May 13, he hasn’t hit a home run since. As May comes to a close, Martin hasn’t found his groove. Since returning from injury, his May numbers are just 2-for-14 (59 at-bats) with one home run, seven RBIs, 12 walks, 19 strikeouts, and a .695 OPS. He’s drawing walks and getting on base consistently, but he hasn’t been able to generate the power he was hoping for.

For Martin, the month of May is essentially an acclimatization period for the KBO, as he didn’t have a chance to get used to the league in April. Still, it’s unfortunate that the team is competing for the top spot against all odds.

Manager Kang Myung-hyun said, “If he had adjusted a little bit in April, he would have been much better in May. He didn’t look bad in the opening series, and I think he would have played as much of a role as we expected him to,” Kang said, reflecting on the late adjustment period following his injury in April.

The analysis also suggests that Martin’s unfamiliarity with the types of pitches thrown by KBO pitchers is confusing him. KBO pitchers tend to throw more forkballs and splitters than changeups in the off-speed pitch family. While they are similar pitches, they have different drops and changes. According to Sports2eye’s Pitch Tracking System (PTS) analysis, Martin is just 1-for-4 with the forkball this year (1-for-7). It’s only 25% ground balls and 50% fly balls. He hasn’t produced a single line drive. That means he’s not timing his forkballs well enough.

“In the U.S., they almost don’t throw splitters or forkballs because of elbow injury issues, and they throw a lot of circle changeups, and it’s been more than three or four years since they’ve done that. So when Martin suddenly saw a forkball, his movement was different. I think he’s still getting used to it.” In fact, Martin was perfect in a three-game series against Lotte (May 24-26) with 12 strikeouts and no walks against a pitcher whose main weapon is the forkball.안전놀이터

Overcoming this adjustment period will eventually lead to success. “I try not to be fooled by the forkballs, but when they throw me a fastball, I get surprised again. It’s a pattern that foreign players go through all the time. It’s important to know how to overcome this. If you can overcome this, you can go on a long run.” He hopes Martin can do the same. /jhrae@osen.co.kr

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