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Martinez fortunate, but results keep coming

J.D. Martinez has consistently defied baseball statistical principles all season, and this latest hot streak is no different.

Martinez hit the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of a big win for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.

Martinez now has 19 home runs this season, the same number as two-time reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.

Martinez is hitting .340 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in his past 23 games. He's done this despite striking out 27 times in 94 at-bats, thanks to an astounding .438 batting average on balls in play.

That's raised his season BABIP to .373, which would be even with the current major league leader, Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox, if Martinez had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.

J.D Martinez -- MLB Career

It’s also 72 points higher than what Martinez managed in the first three seasons of his major league career.

Yes, Martinez's numbers are out of sync with his norms, but he's done some things in line with a performance change. The most notable of those is his line-drive rate, which improved from 19 percent from 2011 to 2013 to 26 percent this season.

ESPN Stats & Info ran some calculations to see how Martinez would have fared this season had he maintained that batted-ball distribution but had the same success on those batted balls that he did in the previous three seasons (hits on 24 percent of his grounders, 76 percent of his liners and 22 percent of his fly balls).

The result was 94 hits, which would give him a .266 batting average this season, a significant dip from his current .311.

Be that as it might, big hits are big hits, and the Tigers will take the overachieving any way it comes as the season goes down the stretch.

In this case, Martinez crushed a 96 mph, middle-away fastball from Indians closer Cody Allen 423 feet to right center field. A good chunk of Martinez's success comes from hitting pitches thrown to that very spot.

He's seen 242 pitches this season that were midlevel (middle third of the strike zone height wise) and on the outer half of the plate or off the outside corner. He's turned six into doubles and six into home runs. That's a rate of one extra-base hit for every 20 pitches seen.

Prior to this season, he'd averaged an extra-base hit for every 46 such pitches seen.

Did You Know?

Martinez is now hitting .369 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs in 44 games against AL Central opponents. His 1.079 OPS against the Central Division ranks second in the majors, trailing only Mike Trout's 1.104.