DETROIT -- For all the focus on J.D. Martinez's emergence as an All-Star hitter, his outfield defense has quietly been on the rise. While Martinez is a near-lock to lead the Tigers in home runs this season, he's now on top of the Majors in outfield assists after a highlight throw to retire Elvis Andrus at third base in Friday night's 2-0 loss to the Rangers.
The throw, which ended a seventh-inning threat with the Rangers trying to add to a two-run lead, was Martinez's 14th assist of the season, breaking a tie with former Tiger turned White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia as well as Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.
Andrus committed the miscue of making the final out at third after reaching on a one-out double. Rougned Odor lined sharply to right, sending Martinez back a few steps to make the catch, and prompting Andrus to take off. Martinez delivered a strong throw on one hop to third baseman Nick Castellanos, who had a relatively easy tag where he fielded the ball in Andrus' path.
Martinez already has the most outfield assists by a Tiger in a season since Robert Fick led the league by throwing out 21 baserunners in 2002.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.