There are a lot of people out there questioning Martinez as a player, and I’m here to tell you….they are wrong. Don’t trust the radio guys who used to cover baseball- they really don’t know shit.
The two biggest arguments against JDM are
- He was released 4 years ago, as a failed prospect
- He had his career year in his contract year, 2017
To the first point, so what?! You know who was also released after a few lackluster years, then signed by a team, went on to have his breakout season at the age of 27? That’d be David Ortiz.
Now, JD Martinez is clearly not as impactful with the bat, or for your franchise as David Ortiz, but much like Ortiz, Martinez’ improvement coincided with his move from Houston to Detroit. In his case, it’s actually a more tangible adjustment- a swing overhaul in 2014- that can be credited for his rebirth. I won’t bore you with all the details, but this isn’t revisionist history. A quick google search will yield stories from the spring of ’14, pre-breakout, detailing the work he and the staff put in on his swing.
Which brings us to point #2- that the Sox are paying for one year of elite production. This is completely false; invented fodder for talk radio crazies.
As reported by Scott Lauber, there are two players in MLB over the past 4 years who have hit .300 with 125+ HR and a .550 Slugging %- Martinez, and Mike Trout. Also over that stretch, the top SLG% in all of baseball are: Trout .579, Martinez .574, Giancarlo Stanton .573, David Ortiz .564.
He has a FOUR year track record of ELITE offensive production, not one. To say his offensive production over the next two or three years will be on par with those other guys is not crazy…and is not being a Red Sox apologist. Yes, 2017 was his best year, but the only real spike was in home runs (45 in 119 games), boosted by an abnormal HR/Flyball rate. So if that rate comes back to normal a little, and he hits say, 35 in 140 games, while still posting elite OPS and Slg%, and hitting .300, is this going to be considered a failure somehow? Of course not.
The one drawback for Martinez has been staying on the field. He’s played 120 and 119 games in the past two seasons, respectively. That’s not a good thing, but it’s not like he’s compiled missed games with recurring muscle pulls. In 2017 for example, he broke his arm running into a wall; that’s not a surprise, he’s an atrocious fielder. But he’ll DH for the Sox, so that’s not likely to happen again. His injury history wouldn’t concern any more than Stanton’s should concern the Yanks, for comparison.
Clearly, I endorse this signing for the Sox. The main thing is, I like the terms of the deal- five years, frontloaded with the opt outs, kind of limits the likelihood you’re paying big money for shit years on the back end. If they had overextended on years or dollars, to meet some of Martinez’ demands, I would not feel the same.
Now, if he’s going to opt out after 2 years and the Sox extend him for 5 more or something, I’ll have an issue. Just let him walk. But for now, love it.
On the field, I think it helps them a ton…will strengthen the lineup and depth of the team, and helps put the rest of the lineup in a position to live up to their true talent.
We’ll have more pre-season stuff coming over the next few weeks. But expect to see a lot of positive projections about the Sox in general, and specifically offensively.