By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox are not even at the All-Star break, yet it already feels safe to say that the J.D. Martinez signing was a massive success.
Sure, there’s still four years left on the deal after 2018, but Martinez’s first half has been so good that it kind of can’t be overstated how well things are working out for him in Boston. Considering the Red Sox had not exactly been batting 1.000 in that department (Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, David Price, for example), it’s a big win for Dave Dombrowski and crew.
Martinez’s dominance at the plate has also helped first-year manager Alex Cora ride a smooth road through his first few months on the job. And on Monday night, after Martinez once again played a pivotal role in another Red Sox victory, Cora summed up the impact Martinez has had on the team.
“He’s a monster,” Cora said.
As Cora explained, even if Martinez is a little bit off with his swing, it’s so sound that Martinez can still manage to produce.
“He puts the ball in play, he stays inside the ball, he gives himself a chance,” Cora said. “We’ve been talking about how he prepares, but his swing is one that on a daily basis, he’ll give himself a chance. Even when he’s a little bit off, he’s able to stay through the zone and hit the ball in the air and see what happens.”
On Monday night in the series opener vs. the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park, Martinez was involved in both of the Red Sox’ scoring plays. With two out and nobody on in the bottom of the first, Martinez singled to keep the inning alive. Steve Pearce followed up Martinez’s at-bat by demolishing a fastball over the fat of the plate, sending it over the Green Monster to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
That score held until the bottom of the eighth, when Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi each singled to lead off the frame. Martinez strode to the plate and, on a 2-2 pitch, he cleaned out an inside fastball, sending high and deep to left-center field. It cleared the Monster, giving Martinez his 28th home run and upping his RBI total to 77 on the year.
He leads all of Major League Baseball in both categories. He also ranks second in slugging percentage (.654) and third in both batting average (.331) and OPS (1.047).
After a long offseason that saw him go unsigned for months and also included a week of uncertainty regarding contract language, Martinez would be in perfect position to boast a bit about how wrong he’s proven so many teams. But that’s not Martinez’s style.
“I don’t know. I don’t get caught up in all of that, really,” Martinez said when asked for his feelings on leading the league in home runs and RBIs. “Like I always say to you guys, I’ll get ready for the next one, ready for the next challenge tomorrow.”