J.D. Martinez hits fewer than 30 home runs
How it could happen:
Wait, so the guy the Red Sox specifically signed to be a home run threat won’t hit at least 30??
Martinez smashed 45 homers last year. 29 of those came following a mid-season trade that sent him to the Arizona Diamondbacks. So, this prediction assumes he won’t top what he did in only 62 games in the desert.
He probably will, it’s just not as much of a lock as many assume. His staggering total from last season stands out but keep in mind it was only the second time in his seven-year career that Martinez topped 30 homers. His previous high of 38 was set in 2015 when he also managed to appear in a career-high 158 games. Injuries limited him to 120 games the following year and his home run production fell to 22.
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Martinez has only topped 123 games once in his career. Granted, he was only a part-time player for three years in Houston before breaking out in 2014 with the Detroit Tigers. However, he’s dealt with his fair share of injuries. If he’s limited to around 120 games again this year then his home run total will suffer even if he’s still performing at an elite level.
The limited playing time didn’t hold Martinez back last year, although that had much to do with his environment. Fenway is a hitter-friendly park but it rated as one of the worst for home runs last year, per ESPN’s Park Factors. Martinez did most of his damage last year in Arizona’s Chase Field, which rated fourth in the majors for home runs. He was on pace for around 30 home runs in Detroit (ranked 8th for home runs), only to burst out with an epic finish after moving to a better ballpark.
Martinez remains an elite power hitter but we should temper expectations. Sure, he could top 30 if he stays healthy. Just don’t bank on a repeat of last year. If he does fall short with only 29 home runs, that’s still more than any Red Sox hitter produced last year. It would have put him on the outskirts of the top-20 in the league during a season in which we saw home run totals rise to historic levels.
Adding Martinez gives the Red Sox lineup a significant power boost. He’s a great hitter that can still be a star even if he’s not challenging for the league-lead in home runs.