Short Hops: Tino Martinez by Joe Pawlikowski

Joe Pawlikowski is a contributor to Fangraphs and the Yankees blog River Avenue Blues. Check him out on Twitter @joepawl.

Tino Martinez is by no means the consummate 1990s first baseman. Though he did rank ninth among his peers with 213 home runs in the decade, he never carried the fearsome aura of McGwire, of Thomas, of Bagwell, of Vaughn. He did, however, replace one of the definitive 1980s first basemen, Don Mattingly. After a slow start to his career Tino rose to prominence in 1995 when he swatted 31 home runs for the AL West winning Mariners. That winter they traded him to the Yankees and, a month later, signed power flash in pan Paul Sorrento. The New York fans did not take kindly to beloved Mattingly’s replacement, showering Martinez with boos early in his pinstriped tenure. Some fine hitting, and a World Series title, helped calm the Bronx natives. In 1997 they witnessed the best he had to offer, a season in which he hit 44 home runs and, for the first half at least, battled Ken Griffey Jr. for the AL home run crown. Tino also hit one of the most memorable postseason home runs of the Yankees dynasty, a grand slam that capped a late-inning comeback in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. By decade’s end he wore three rings.

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