Boston Red Sox OF J.D. Martinez hits with the power and consistency in the middle of the batting order that the team desperately lacked last season. This glaring need in the lineup required the team to manage a long negotiation process that culminated in spring training with a five-year, $110 million contract. Through two months of the season, the Red Sox could not have invested in a better player.
After 45 games, Martinez is batting .343/.397/.680, with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in. Regularly batting fourth in the lineup, Martinez provides a massive spark for an offense that placed 28th in home runs in 2017. In 2018, the Red Sox are second in the league in home runs, having already hit forty percent of their home run total from last season.
In addition to Martinez, the pairing with OF Mookie Betts (.368/.439/.767, 15 HR, 32 RBI) at the top of the lineup is one of the best in the league. Both hitters have been on fire, each placing in the top five of MLB in batting average, OPS, hits, home runs, and total bases; and top ten in WAR and RBI. Their ability to put major pressure on the opposing teams’ pitching and defense is a consistency that the team lacked at the top of the order last season.
Continuing further from last season, Martinez is picking up from a torrid finish after being traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline. Martinez has hit 44 home runs in the last four months of play, including 29 home runs last season after the trade to Arizona. Since the trade, he leads the league in home runs, joined by New York Yankees OF Giancarlo Stanton at the top of the leaderboard.
Martinez helps the Red Sox more than simply holding down his spot in the order. Since Stanton was traded to the Yankees, it was questionable whether there was anyone with similar power ability available for the Red Sox. Martinez gives the Red Sox much needed relief by enabling the team and fans to forget about the idea of Stanton in a Red Sox’ uniform. After an offseason in which the free agent market crashed, Martinez was one of the few remaining power hitters available.
Another question going into this season was how first year Manager Alex Cora would manage his daily lineup. At first, it seemed Martinez best fit as a DH, with Hanley Ramirez at 1B, while returning the 2017 outfield of Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. However, Cora managed around a beginning of the season slump by Benintendi, and Bradley’s brutal .167 average. Martinez’s presence has given the Red Sox a major upgrade to the outfield, allowing Cora to relegate Bradley to the bench on a regular basis. Also, the open DH spot lets Cora move Ramirez to that position, and replace his 1B spot with the hot-hitting Mitch Moreland, who is also a much better defensive 1B than Ramirez. Overall, Martinez’s presence has completely stabilized the Red Sox’ lineup, and added a major boost of consistency and power to the offense that looks to be sustainable season-long.