Red Sox: J.D. Martinez’s slow start reflects Boston’s offensive struggles

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 30: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 30, 2020 in New York City. Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Mets 4-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 30: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 30, 2020 in New York City. Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Mets 4-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez’s hot camp turns ice cold

Another game, another lackluster offensive performance, and another loss by the Red Sox. In what has become the theme of 2020, Boston was easily outscored by their opponent. This one hurt a little bit more though since it was the Yankees that manhandled the team. There have been some bright spots in the offense but there is on massively glaring absence in the offense, J.D. Martinez.

The man that has become Boston’s big bat since the departure of David Ortiz went from white-hot in summer camp to ice-cold during the regular season. It felt like every day during the intrasquad games J.D. was crushing bombs and getting on base, those days feel long gone right now.

It’s getting tough to be optimistic about this team when each and every night the pitching gives up runs while the Red Sox struggle just for hits.

This isn’t lost on the big DH though and he knows that this team could and should eventually get back on track. We’re only eight games into the season but when the total is 60 and not 162, those eight get magnified.

At this rate, the Red Sox won’t even be able to watch the postseason let alone partake in it. If they want any sort of shot to make it to October, they’ll need Martinez and the rest of the big bats in the lineup to wake up, and fast.

J.D. spoke to the media via Zoom after last night’s loss to the Yankees and the slugger held nothing back in his criticism of how the season has played out to this point.

"“It’s been tough,” Martinez said. “We’ve all been grinding. Fortunate enough today that Bogey looked better. He hit the ball hard. So it would be nice at least for one of us to get going a little bit. It’s been a little tough stretch. It’s one of those things. It kind of is what it is.”"

One thing that can be attributed to Martinez’s slow start is his location in Ron Roenicke’s lineup. J.D. has been hitting in the two-hole for much of the year which is incredibly odd for a DH. Common practice would have your big bat usually batting third or fourth, giving them a chance to see other at-bats as well as have runners on base. Shifting his position in the batting order very well may be the cause for his slow start, he’s in an uncharted territory from his other season with the Red Sox.

"“It’s a little different,” Martinez said. “The whole routine changes. Obviously I don’t get as many at-bats to watch the pitcher early on. Like usually I get the first two or three guys (hitters to watch), kind of time ‘em up a bit. So that’s probably the different part about it.”"

So far in 2020 J.D. has a .219/.324/.313/.637 line with zero homers and 3 RBI. A long way away from what we normally see the righty post in a given season. Based on what we saw in summer camp it felt like he may post some historic numbers but with the calendar now flipped to August, the power is gone and so is the spirit.

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With Mookie Betts long-gone, the Red Sox need their other power players to wake the hell up and get going. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, and Michael Chavis have all been a relative disappointment at the plate in 2020. Add in Martinez to that mix and a majority of the lineup has been a massive letdown. But this group has to figure it out, right? Like, there’s no way they go all 60 games in 2020 with this disgusting version of an offense. I just can’t see it getting that bad.

During his time with the Red Sox, Martinez has become a de facto hitting coach for the team, but that’s all changed after this winter. With players no-longer having access to the replay rooms to watch their past at-bats, one of J.D.’s biggest weapons is gone. He’s a student of the game though and will surely figure things out, he’s too good of a hitter to continue to be this cold.

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This Red Sox team will ebb and flow with J.D. Martinez. When he’s on and firing on all cylinders the rest of the squad rises to the occasion. If his bat goes cold, his teammates can often follow suit and the offense disappears. Boston needs J.D. to find his groove and get his mojo back if this season is going to be salvaged. Martinez knows it, the fans know it, and the rest of the league knows it as well.