Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez is in a long slump. Will it carry over to 2021?
What a difference a year makes. In this instance for Boston Red Sox slugger J.D.Martinez, is he mired in a season-long slump or is it a vision of the future?
The entire misery can be summed up in the 11th inning of a tie game against the dreaded Yankees. Runners on the corners and Xander Bogaerts up. The Yankees walked XB to face Martinez who finished off his evening by striking out. A nice 0-for-6 for Martinez who has spent 2020 flirting with the Mendoza Line.
Boston fans unfortunately know about Allen Craig who they acquired in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Craig was a former All-Star and a feared right-hand hitter who had three straight .300+ seasons for the Red Birds before slumping and shipped to Boston. Craig hit .139 spread over 65 games in two Boston seasons before finally serving time in the minors and being released. The cost in money was in excess of $20 million and for Craig, it was a once-promising career blown apart.
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Great hitters sometimes slump and even Ted Williams once went 0-for-17. Ty Cobb had a similar drought, Lou Gehrig once did an 0-for-20 and Babe Ruth exceeded Gehrig by going on an 0-for-21. Then sometimes it just suddenly disappears as it did for Craig. Pitchers seem especially prone.
The metrics show that Martinez is still hitting the ball, lofting fly balls, not piling up swings and misses, but not hammering the ball with his usual line drive authority. With Boston the previous two seasons, a Martinez at-bat was one worth looking forward to. No longer. Martinez’s bat has suddenly turned to rubber and Martinez has expressed his frustration repeatedly. BSI’s Sean Penney covered the poor statistical achievements of Martinez and a few other notables slumping this season.
This is not a work ethic situation as Martinez is a student of hitting and certainly of preparation. Maybe he misses the video room? What is known is a chunk of the Red Sox lineup has been neutered and the concern is if this is the future – will Martinez follow the same path as Craig?
His contract is an issue as there was much speculation of Martinez being sent elsewhere at the trading deadline, but he stayed and Boston may have regrets. The Red Sox will be faced with an almost $40 million price tag for Martinez the next two seasons and if it is two more years of a -0.9 fWAR that will most certainly result in dead money.
The Red Sox financially do not need further erosion with contracts since they are obligated for $32 million for David Price over the next two years, Dustin Pedroia is due $12 million for 2021, and Chris Sale is on the books for $30 million with his health status unknown.
Is Martinez just too good to fail? That is my assumption since Martinez is 33-years-old and in good shape physically. His approach is professional since he lives by run production. With a core of younger players in their prime or approaching it, Martinez represents an anchor in the lineup. Right now the anchor is attached to a ship taking on too much water.