Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez
The nightmare of the 2020 season is a distant memory for J.D. Martinez. He had a full offseason to work out the kinks in his mechanics and he’s returned with a vengeance to prove he’s still among the game’s elite hitters.
Martinez is tied for the league-lead with 67 hits. He’s second with a .321 batting average, .958 OPS and .407 wOBA, trailing only Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in all three categories. The injured Mike Trout would have a slight lead if he had enough plate appearances to qualify but it’s unclear if he’ll make it back from a calf strain in time for the All-Star Game.
He piled up homers in a hurry in April but Martinez has been going through a bit of a power outage lately with only two home runs in his last 25 games. He still has a respectable 12 for the season to go along with 39 RBI.
A lack of defensive value tends to limit the WAR category for a DH but Martinez is still ninth in the league and the best at his position with 2.0 fWAR.
The race for the DH spot should be an interesting battle since there might only be room for one. Martinez made the team as a reserve DH in 2019 when he lost the fan vote but obviously deserved to be there. The AL didn’t carry a backup DH in 2018.
Shohei Ohtani is certain to receive plenty of fan support. If he doesn’t win the starting spot, the two-way star could make the team as a pitcher, increasing the odds for the rest of the field. Austin Meadows pales in comparison to the offensive production of Martinez but he’s been heating up lately and the first-place Rays warrant their fair share of representation. Nelson Cruz is having a down year by his lofty standards but he’s always in the mix when discussing the league’s best DH. Giancarlo Stanton doesn’t deserve to be on anyone’s ballot but those Yankee pinstripes will draw the attention from casual fans in addition to those in the Bronx.
This is a competition that Martinez should easily win but nothing is ever certain when the decision is a popularity contest. If the fans rob Martinez of the starting spot, it will be interesting to see if the AL chooses to carry multiple DH’s in order to squeeze him in. They better find a way because Martinez not making the team would be a travesty after how hard he’s worked to return to form. Let’s make sure there’s no doubt about his place on this year’s All-Star team by getting out there to vote!