J.D. Martinez has been an extra-base hitting machine for the Red Sox
Any concerns that the dreadful slump that plagued J.D. Martinez last year would carry over to this season have quickly been put to rest. The Boston Red Sox designated hitter has been swinging a scorching hot bat in the opening week of the 2021 campaign.
Martinez blasted a double high off the left field wall to drive in a pair of runs in the fifth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston lit up the scoreboard with a nine-run explosion to cap the three-game sweep of the defending AL champions and Martinez was right in the middle of the offensive onslaught.
That double was notable in that it was his league-leading sixth of the season. Martinez has also tallied a pair of home runs in the early going, giving him eight extra-base hits already. That ties him with Billy Werber (1934) and Jose Offerman (1999) for the most extra-base hits through the first six games of a season in franchise history.
Werber wasn’t much of a power threat but he was a speedster who led the league with 40 stolen bases in 1934. He also used that speed to set career-highs with 41 doubles and 10 triples that season. Werber wouldn’t hit his first homer that year until mid-May but he racked up plenty of doubles and a triple in those first six games.
Offerman was an All-Star in his first season with the Red Sox in 1999. He also wasn’t a home run threat, falling short of double-digits in every season of his career, but he led the league with 11 triples that year while setting a career-high with 37 doubles.
Martinez is no stranger to strong starts. He’s a career .299/.367/.509 hitter in March/April. This year is the first time that he’s collected more than four extra-base hits through six games though. He had five homers in his first six games of the 2017 season but didn’t makes his first appearance until May 12 after an injury-delayed start to the year.
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He’s piling up extra-base hits to open this season but Martinez is also doing it consistently, recording at least one in each game. He joins David Ortiz (2005) and Faye Throneberry (1955) as the only Red Sox hitters with at least one extra-base hit in each of the team’s first six games.
Big Papi is an icon in this city and 2005 was a monster year for the Red Sox Hall of Famer. Ortiz smashed 47 homers and 40 doubles while leading the league with 148 RBI to earn a Sliver Slugger award and finish second on the AL MVP ballot.
Throneberry never achieved quite the same legendary status. He started the 1955 season with four doubles and three home runs while slashing .400/.429/.920 through six games. The part-time outfielder would finish the year hitting .257/.323/.472 in 60 games. That was the best season of his career.
It’s safe to assume that Martinez will wrap up this season a bit closer to Ortiz than Throneberry. We know that Martinez is capable of the type of production that puts him in the MVP conversation.
There were concerns that his best days were behind him when Martinez sputtered through the shortened 2020-season looking lost at the plate. He blamed it on everything from the interruption in his routine to the lack of in-game video. There were those who didn’t want to believe the excuses but Martinez is proving his doubters wrong with a historic hot streak to begin this season.