When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed JD Martinez this past offseason, many figured it'd be a downgrade from Justin Turner, whose bat the new slugger would ostensibly be replacing. What many fans perhaps forgot is that Martinez was legitimately one of the best hitters in MLB from 2014-2022, but after shucking him off the roster, Red Sox fans would've figured out a way to tell you otherwise.
Folks in Boston suggested Martinez was over the hill and primed for a steep decline heading into his age-35 season. Not a bad prognostication, but what was the evidence? Martinez's 16 home runs in 2022? He was still an All-Star, clubbed 43 doubles, and registered a 117 OPS+. All good numbers! We're so terribly sorry he didn't hit 40+ home runs and drive in 130 batters like he did in 2018. Not everyone can put up career-best seasons every single year.
Instead of just keeping Martinez for another season or two, the Red Sox jettisoned another valuable player from their organization without explanation. And the Dodgers said "thank you" ... again.
Martinez is in the midst of another one of his usual, dominant campaigns with LA, even though Sox fans might try to tell you it's an unforeseen renaissance (he was an All-Star during every season he spent in Boston where an All-Star team was selected). After a slow start, the slugger is hitting .276 with an .929 OPS, 143 OPS+, 27 runs scored, 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 40 RBI through Saturday's action.
And he's looking more and more like the 2018 version of himself, which propelled the Red Sox to a World Series victory over the Dodgers.
Dodgers benefit from another Red Sox blunder by adding JD Martinez
Reunited with the hitting coach that helped revive his career a decade ago, as well as former teammate Mookie Betts, Martinez has slugged his way into the spotlight with the Dodgers, while the Red Sox, after their 21-14 start, have fallen to 26-23, as their bats have fallen silent.
Martinez is also doing this in a much less prominent Dodgers lineup. LA swapped out JT, Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux (injured) for a combination of Martinez, Miguel Rojas, Miguel Vargas, James Outman, David Peralta and Jason Heyward. Martinez also had himself a fine 2022 campaign on a floundering Red Sox team that finished below .500.
This year with the Dodgers, Martinez is also destroying the competition in big situations:
- With RISP - .375 AVG, 1.158 OPS, 4 HR, 27 RBI in 40 at-bats
- With 2 Outs and RISP - .412 AVG, 1.386 OPS, 3 HR, 13 RBI in 17 at-bats
- In High-Leverage - .268 AVG, .767 OPS, 2 HR and 15 RBI in 41 at-bats
Without a doubt, his veteran leadership is also helping a Dodgers team in transition as they introduce more young talent -- another aspect of his presence the Red Sox could've benefitted from.
The Dodgers have dumped Turner, Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, Kiké Hernandez, Kenley Jansen and Jeter Downs on the Sox in recent years, while LA has capitalized on adding Martinez, Betts and Joe Kelly. Excited to see the next chapter in this novel of Red Sox miscues.