Major League Baseball announced today that Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers has been voted the winner of the 2014 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. Martinez received 75 of the 90 first-place votes cast to garner the honor for the first time in his 12-year career. In addition to Martinez, two previous Tigers have been tabbed as the league's top designated hitter, including Willie Horton (1975) and Rusty Staub (1978). Boston's David Ortiz finished second with 58 second-place votes after batting .263 with 27 doubles, 35 homers and 104 RBI in 142 games for the Red Sox in 2014.
Victor batted .335 (.001 shy of his career best established in 2009 while with Boston) with 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 103 RBI and 87 runs scored in 151 games, finishing second in the AL Most Valuable Player Award voting behind unanimous winner Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Venezuelan native led the league with one strikeout every 15.26 plate appearances, a .409 on-base percentage and 28 intentional walks; he was second with a .335 batting average and a .565 slugging percentage; third with 57 multi-hit games; tied for fourth with 188 hits; and was fifth with 317 total bases. Martinez posted a .371 batting average vs. lefties (2nd in the AL) and hit an equally impressive .323 against right-handers (3rd in the AL).
His career-high 32 blasts helped the 35-year-old become the oldest player with at least 30 homers in a season since Edgar Martinez (37) in 2000. V-Mart struck out just 42 times to become the first player in Tigers history to hit 30-or-more homers and strike out 45-or-fewer times, and is the first Major Leaguer to do so since Barry Bonds (45 HR, 41 SO) in 2004. Martinez reached the 100-RBI plateau for the fifth time in his career, previously accomplishing the feat in 2011. Martinez (35 years, 270 days) was the third-oldest player in MLB history to have his first 30-home run, 100-RBI season with only Carlton Fisk (37 years, 272 days) and Edgar Martinez (37 years, 234 days) being older. The switch-hitting Martinez was selected to his fifth career All-Star Game, but did not make an appearance in Minneapolis's edition of the Midsummer Classic in an AL victory this past July. Among his season highlights, Martinez recorded his 1,500th career hit on April 23rd vs. the White Sox; he was named the Tigers Player of the Month for March/April and August; he was voted the AL Player of the Month for the first time in his career in August after hitting .350 with five doubles, six homers, 30 RBI and 20 runs scored over the period; and he batted .378 (34-for-106) with seven doubles, five home runs, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored over 26 games in September during Detroit's stretch drive towards the Postseason.
Now in its 41st season, the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was renamed by Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig in a September 2004 ceremony at Safeco Field in honor of the retiring Edgar Martinez. Ballots are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments with nominees including all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.