Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez proving to be worth every penny


BOSTON — J.D. Martinez‘s message is loud and clear, backed up by house runs, exit velocity and launch angle: He was definitely worth the cash.

Martinez entered final offseason as one of many prime free brokers after a four-season run as one of many sport’s prime hitters and coming off a monster 2017 marketing campaign with the Tigers and Diamondbacks wherein he hit 45 house runs and slugged .690 in 119 video games.

He remained unsigned by means of the winter conferences and thru January and into February. Lastly, after spring coaching had already began, Martinez landed in Boston the place everybody had predicted, giving the Pink Sox the facility bat they wanted after ending final within the American League in house runs in 2017. He signed a five-year, $110 million contract on Feb. 26, and whereas it took him seven video games earlier than he hit his first house run, he hasn’t stopped mashing since.

Martinez went Four-for-5 with two doubles, a large house run to useless heart subject, 5 RBIs and a go-ahead two-run single within the seventh inning because the Pink Sox rallied from a five-run deficit to bury the Mariners in a wild 14-10 victory at Fenway Park on Friday. He is hitting .324/.393/.644, tied Mike Trout for the MLB lead with 23 house runs, took over the MLB lead with 60 RBIs, and ranks third within the majors in slugging proportion and OPS, trailing solely Trout and teammate Mookie Betts in each classes.

He’s, in different phrases, the identical fearsome slugger who tore aside pitchers in 2017 and but had hassle discovering a job, not less than on the proper worth. Martinez just lately expressed his displeasure to Yahoo Sports activities’ Chris Cwik over what transpired in free company. “It was a joke,” he mentioned concerning the ugly facets of the enterprise facet of baseball. “Once you start getting into the dollars and you start talking about that, then you start seeing teams come out and say how they really feel about you.”

Martinez was coming into his age-30 season. Too dangerous for a long-term, nine-figure contract prompt some critics, pointing to a few of the free-agent busts in recent times who signed offers that took them into their mid-30s. The market additionally hasn’t been sort to nook outfielders and first base/DH sorts in recent times and a few groups might need felt Martinez was restricted to a DH function — if not now, then actually inside a few years.

The Pink Sox, with a gap at DH, have been the plain match. With Martinez and Betts main the best way, they’ve improved from Four.85 runs per sport, sixth within the AL, to five.16 per sport, second within the majors to the Yankees’ 5.23 — all whereas the AL common per sport has dipped from Four.71 to Four.40.

That assault was on full show Friday because the Pink Sox pounded out a season-high 20 hits and matched their season-high with the 14 runs. After the Mariners scored 4 runs within the first off Steven Wright, the Pink Sox responded with 5 runs off Wade LeBlanc within the backside of the inning. Martinez confirmed off his uncooked energy by one-handing a double off the Inexperienced Monster.

It was a twist from final weekend in Seattle, when LeBlanc retired 22 batters in a row at one level and outdueled Wright in a 1-Zero sport. “He pitched a great game against us last time,” Martinez mentioned of the soft-tossing Seattle lefty. “It was one of those things where I think we had a little chip on our shoulder coming into today. We were like ‘Let’s go, let’s get this guy.’ Maybe we were a little more focused. We got him up against the ropes right away and didn’t let him get comfortable.”

Nonetheless, the Mariners battled again. Nelson Cruz hit his second three-run homer off Wright and the Mariners would take a 10-5 lead. The Mariners have been simply swept in three video games at Yankee Stadium at the beginning of their East Coast street journey and a kind of losses got here Wednesday after they blew a 5-Zero lead. Getting into Friday’s motion, groups have been 409-19 this season when main by five-plus runs at one level. The Mariners blew their second five-run lead in three days Friday.

“When we went down 10-5, I remember just thinking in the outfield during one of the pitching changes that we’re down 10-5, but it doesn’t really feel like that way,” Martinez mentioned.

It was 10-6 within the sixth when Andrew Benintendi drew a two-out stroll off James Pazos. The Mariners turned to Nick Vincent, simply off the DL. He had nothing and Martinez ripped a 1-2, 89 mph fastball 427 toes to heart subject. Within the seventh, Martinez got here up with the bases loaded and the rating tied at 10 and grounded a base hit up the center for 2 extra runs.

As Pink Sox supervisor Alex Cora mentioned after the sport, “That’s the beauty of baseball. Two guys that went at it last week and only one run and, boom, look what happened in the first inning.”

The Pink Sox have been burned in recent times by big-money contracts — Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, to call three that turned out so poorly the Pink Sox dumped all three earlier than the offers have been performed. Possibly that is one cause they held agency on not eager to overpay Martinez.

It is solely three months into the deal, however the early returns have the five-year funding wanting fairly good. With Jackie Bradley Jr. and Betts having quick stints on the DL, Martinez has even began 31 video games within the outfield. But it surely’s the bat that pays the lease.

He actually has change into a hitter with out a main weak point. You will get him to chase sliders when forward within the rely and he has little weak spot up and in like most batters, however in any other case he has no apparent holes that you could assault:

Fastballs: .333/.417/.733 (103 PAs); sinkers: .432/.510/.818 (51 PAs); changeups: .268/.289/.659 (42 PAs); sliders: .234/.301/.359 (73 PAs); curveballs: .444/.474/.778 (19 PAs)

When he is in a hitter’s rely, his OPS is 1.839. When the rely is even, it is 1.298. And in case you attempt to get forward on the primary pitch and make a mistake, be careful: He is hitting .576 when he places the primary pitch in play.

Martinez talked about the chip on his shoulder the crew might need had towards LeBlanc. I believe that is man with a chip on his shoulder towards the complete league.

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