The Pirates uncharacteristically pilfered a player from the Yankees over the winter, signing catcher Russell Martin to a two-year, $17 million contract that made him the highest-paid free agent in franchise history. While Martin began his Bucs tenure 0 for 17 at the plate, he has since belted a team-best six home runs and has thrown out 38 percent of would-be base stealers — well above the 28 percent major league average and otherworldly compared to the 11 percent clip that Pirates catchers managed in 2012.
Martin's all-around excellence makes him one of the game's best so far in 2013. He ranks second among major league catchers in Wins Above Replacement, a stat comparing a player's offensive and defensive contributions to those of a Triple-A-caliber talent:
The Pirates' latest foray into the free-agent catcher market is going far better than their last. Martin is playing like an All-Star one year after the Bucs paid Rod Barajas $4 million to produce one of the team's worst catching seasons in the expansion era (1961 to present):
Lowest single-season WAR among Pirates catchers since 1961
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