Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts earned a Silver Slugger award while J.D. Martinez made history by taking home the award at two positions.
The highest scoring team in baseball this season was led by a pair of superstars who were both recognized for their hitting prowess. The Boston Red Sox lineup wouldn’t be nearly as formidable without Mookie Betts leading off and J.D. Martinez in the cleanup spot. Not only are they the top hitters on this ballclub, but these are also two of the best hitters in the league.
Martinez and Betts were both honored with the Silver Slugger award, recognizing the top hitter in the league at each position. Boston joins the Cleveland Indians (Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor) as the only American League team with multiple recipients of the award this season.
Apparently, Martinez is such a great hitter that he deserves two Silver Slugger awards. He’s the first player in major league history to win the award twice in the same season, taking home the trophy as an outfielder and as a designated hitter.
The prized free agent acquisition was everything the Red Sox could have hoped for and more. Martinez was the runner-up in the batting title race with a .330 batting average. He led the league with 130 RBI, was second in slugging (.629) and home runs (43) while finishing third with a .402 OBP and 1.031 OPS. Martinez also ranked third in the league with a .427 wOBA and 170 wRC+.
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Martinez tallied 400 plate appearances as a DH and 249 split between left and right field. He hit .297/.373/.597 as a DH, .393/.450/.701 as a left fielder, and .370/.450/.652 as a right fielder. It’s interesting to note that Martinez produced better numbers at the plate in games where he was allowed to play in the field. Was this the result of a small sample size or was Martinez simply more engaged when tasked with playing a full game? The latter explanation may suggest he warrants more playing time in the outfield despite his defensive shortcomings.
The 219 at-bats Martinez recorded as an outfielder makes his selection debatable. Every other AL hitter to win the award had no less than 471 at-bats at their respective positions.
Regardless of whether or not Martinez played enough in the outfield to warrant a Silver Slugger at that position, his overall body of work is clearly worthy of consideration for the best hitter in baseball. Although, that wasn’t enough to get him on the finalist’s list for the AL MVP award, much to the chagrin of agent Scott Boras.
The awards keep piling up for Betts. The right fielder earned his third consecutive Gold Glove award last week. The MLB Players Alumni Association named him the winner of the 2018 Heart and Hustle award. Now he has been awarded the second Silver Slugger of his career.
Betts won the AL batting title with a .346 average while also leading the league with a .640 SLG, .449 wOBA, and 129 runs scored. He was second in the league with a .438 OBP, 1.078 OPS, and 185 wRC+. He was also one of only two major league players in the 30/30 club this season, blasting 32 home runs and swiping 30 stolen bases. Betts is arguably the most well-rounded offensive player in the game.
The Silver Slugger is the latest piece of hardware for Betts to display on his mantle but the prize remains the MVP. We can debate whether or not Martinez should have been a finalist but it’s clear that Betts is the front-runner for that award.