Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez blasted his 25th home run of the season on Wednesday, putting him among rare company in franchise history.
Just. Dingers. Fine, that’s not what his initials actually stand for but try telling that to anyone in Red Sox Nation. J.D. Martinez has quickly established himself as a fan-favorite with a well-earned nickname for swatting home runs.
Martinez hit his 25th home run of the season against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. The three-run blast came on a first-pitch changeup that hung over the middle of the plate. Martinez hammered it 404 feet into the Monster seats to extend the lead to six in a second inning in which the Red Sox homered three times.
Mookie Betts led the team with 24 home runs last season. Martinez has already surpassed that total and it’s only June. He’s not the only reason why the Red Sox are second in home runs after finishing dead last in the American League last season but he deserves a fair amount of the credit.
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Those 25 home runs by Martinez are the most in franchise history before the end of June. Granted, this season began in March, earlier than most. Matinez still finds himself in rare company.
Last night’s game was No. 81 for the Red Sox this season, marking the official midpoint. David Ortiz (2006) and Jimmie Foxx (1938) hold the franchise record for the most home runs through 81 games with 27. Mo Vaugh (1995) and Jackie Jenson (1958) each had seasons where they reached 26 homers by this point. Martinez is right behind them.
Martinez is on pace for 50 home runs this season, putting Ortiz’ franchise record of 54 within reach. Ortiz and Foxx are the only players in franchise history with a 50-homer season.
MVP caliber hitter
Mike Trout led the majors in home runs when his Angels came to town. Perhaps facing off with the former MVP served as motivation for Martinez, who has homered in consecutive games. Or he may simply enjoy facing this Angels pitching staff. Martinez is hitting .571 with a 1.734 OPS and three home runs in 21 at-bats against Los Angeles this season.
Dating back to last year’s All-Star break, Martinez has swatted 56 home runs over his last 143 games. That’s the most in the majors over that span. In less than a full season’s worth of games, Martinez has more home runs than any Red Sox player has ever tallied in a single season.
In addition to leading the world in home runs, Martinez also leads with 64 RBI. That puts him on pace for 128 RBI, a total topped only 17 times in franchise history. He’s also fourth in the league with a .329 batting average and third with a 1.050 OPS.
Martinez isn’t the five-tool player that Trout and Betts are. He doesn’t bring their Gold Glove-caliber defense to the table. That may cost him when it comes to filling out MVP ballots this fall. However, there’s no denying that Martinez is the best hitter in the game right now. If he keeps going at this rate, his first season in a Red Sox uniform could end up being among the great single-season performances this franchise has ever seen.