Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez falls short to Khris Davis for Edgar Martinez Award
By Sean Penney
Oakland’s Khris Davis has received the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter award in a baffling decision over Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez.
The voting results for some of Major League Baseball’s season awards simply don’t make any sense. The Boston Red Sox certainly can’t complain considering the number of highly decorated players on their roster but one hitter who may have a bit of a gripe is J.D. Martinez.
Oakland A’s slugger Khris Davis beat out Martinez for the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter award, an achievement voted on by beat writers, broadcasters and the American League’s public relations department. You would expect this collection of voters to know a thing or two about baseball, perhaps even having seen a few games this year, but you wouldn’t know it from these results.
Were home runs the only criteria for this award? Davis led the league with 48 homers, topping Martinez by a narrow margin. Great, except the linchpin of Boston’s lineup beat Davis in every other offensive category.
Martinez: .330/.402/.629, 130 RBI, 22.5 K%, 10.6 BB%, .427 wOBA, 170 wRC+
Davis: .247/.326/.549, 123 RBI, 26.8 K%, 9.0 BB% .365 wOBA, 135 wRC+
Those numbers aren’t even close. What rational argument can you build from this supporting a vote for Davis receiving a reward recognizing the best hitter in designated hitter role?
Even if you ignore the numbers these players produced in games in which they fielded a position instead of serving as the DH, Martinez should win in a landslide. Martinez hit.297/.373/.597 in 400 plate appearances as a DH while Davis hit .247/.328/.555 in 607 plate appearances serving in that role.
Any fair argument in favor of Davis has to be built around the differential in plate appearances. Martinez spent significant time in the outfield this season while Davis was almost exclusively a DH, appearing in only 11 games as an outfielder. Countings stats, such as homers and RBI, swing heavily in favor of Davis by virtue of him spending more time as a DH.
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That still seems like a weak argument. Shouldn’t we be at the point where voters know to look beyond those simple counting stats? The slash line, the advanced metrics, the strikeout-to-walk ratio. Everything points to Martinez being the better hitter.
Maybe some voters ruled out Martinez because they felt he didn’t accumulate enough plate appearances as a DH? 400 plate appearances shouldn’t be considered a small sample though. It certainly wasn’t in the minds of those who voted for the Silver Slugger awards. Martinez earned a Silver Slugger as a DH and an outfielder to become the first player to ever win the award at two positions in the same season.
Martinez also finished fourth in MVP voting. It certainly wasn’t his defense and baserunning that garnered him attention in that race, it was what he did with a bat in his hands that made Martinez a candidate.
Clearly, the voters for the Edgar Martinez award isn’t the same group of people casting ballots for these other prestigious honors. Yet it’s baffling to see the disparity between the results. It’s almost as if voters decided the Red Sox had already received enough accolades this year. Sorry, J.D. You’re a multi-time Silver Slugger and you got a World Series ring, we’re not giving you another award!
You can’t win them all, I suppose. While Martinez was robbed of winning this award, I’m sure he’ll have no trouble recovering from the disappointment while admiring his other achievements and polishing his World Series ring.