Has Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez remembered how to hit?
2020 is a year we all want to forget but no Red Sox player is more eager to move on than J.D. Martinez.
His value is already mitigated by being locked into the designated hitter role. If he’s not hitting the ball, Martinez is essentially useless. That’s what happened last year when he was arguably the worst position player in baseball.
Martinez hit a woeful .213 with a .680 OPS in 54 games last season. His seven home runs and 27 RBI put him near the top on his own team but those are categories he’s normally near the top of the majors in. He wasn’t close to being on pace for the totals we’ve come to expect.
MLB temporarily prohibiting players from accessing video of their plate appearances during games has been blamed on Martinez’s drastic regression. It should come as no surprise that a creature of habit was thrown off by having his routine altered. Martinez is a very methodical hitter who studies the outcome of every trip to the plate. Taking away his ability to dissect his swing in the middle of a game prevented him from making the proper adjustments.
The league has allowed the return of video this year, so Martinez will no longer have that excuse to fall back on. If he returns to being the 30+ home run, 100+ RBI threat anchoring the lineup, we’ll chalk up last year’s disaster to a fluke. If Martinez struggles again this year, it might be time to panic about the 33-year-old falling off a cliff.
Martinez doesn’t necessarily need to be an MVP contender like he was when he first arrived in Boston but a repeat of last season is unacceptable. Martinez at least approaching reasonable expectations at the plate will be one of the keys that determine if the Red Sox can contend for a playoff spot this year. If the veteran DH looks like himself again during spring training, Red Sox fans will take a collective sigh of relief.