Very few people believed that Julio Daniel Martinez could bounce back from a less-than stellar 2022 slate and be a major contributor for the 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers. But so far he’s done more than even the most optimistic fan or analyst could have expected.
It seems as though Martinez’s rebound has been possible thanks to a renewed aggression at the plate that’s allowed him to hit the ball hard without necessarily trying to force any particular outcome.
The 35-year old slugger, who signed a one-year, $10 million contract this past winter, is swinging at 41.5% of the first pitches he sees. This is up almost 4% from his 2022 mark. Additionally, Martinez is sporting a 5.4 BB%, a stat that is down just over 3% from last season. The Miami native has been attacking pitches and putting the barrel on the baseball. His hard hit percentage is up roughly 12% from a year prior, and he currently ranks in the category’s 95th percentile.
At the time of this article, Martinez leads the Dodgers in terms of RBI and slugging percentage. Statistically speaking, he’s found a happy compromise between patience and assertiveness. His strikeout rate is up 5.6% percent from last year, but given his age and how deep LA’s lineup is, Martinez’s approach is a risk-reward dynamic that the team will likely accept given they're attempting to out-duel a surprising Arizona Diamondbacks (and still wildly talented San Diego Padres) squad for the NL West crown.
How JD Martinez bounced back with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023
With other sluggers like Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, and Will Smith filling out the Dodgers’ lineup, opposing pitchers may be more apt to challenge an older Martinez who is no longer in his prime. As a result, the boys in blue could continue to benefit from the veteran’s rejuvenated tactic.
Even though it's only June, Los Angeles offense deserves a great deal of praise for the way they’ve allowed the team to consistently compete despite a struggling bullpen.
Without the contributions of Martinez, it's fully possible that the Dodgers would either be further back in the division or not in a position to at least grab a Wild Card spot.