By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — At least J.D. Martinez can always reflect on 2018 as the year he won a World Series.
Because the Red Sox DH isn’t getting much respect elsewhere. First, Martinez was not one of three finalists for the AL MVP award. While teammate Mookie Betts was the clear-cut winner, Martinez should have been in the conversation after absolutely mashing the baseball in his first season in Boston.
That’s fairly common, as MVP voters aren’t particularly fond of designated hitters. They tend to like players who also make an impact in the field, and that’s OK for the most part.
But now Martinez isn’t even being recognized as the best DH in baseball, and that is downright absurd.
On Tuesday, Martinez lost out to Oakland’s Khris Davis for the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. That hardware is voted on by club beat writers, team broadcasters and American League PR departments.
They all got it wrong. But they’re baseball writers, so everyone else is used to that these days, despite how much baseball writers will tell you they’re right about everything all the dang time.
They’ll cry that Davis had a superior season at DH, and that is fairly debatable. He had a great offensive season, clubbing an MLB-best 48 homers while driving in 123 runs. He hit 46 of those homers and drove in 118 of those runs in 535 at-bats as Oakland’s DH.
Martinez only had 350 at-bats in 93 games as Boston’s DH, but he did his share of damage, mashing 27 homers and driving in 79 runs. He hit 16 additional homers and drove in 51 more runs in his games as an outfielder, and ended up leading the majors with 130 RBIs. He was much more than just dingers and ribbies, with his .330 overall batting average second only to Betts’ .346. Martinez was not just a power bat; he was a damn good all-around hitter.
Martinez hit .297 as a DH, but that was still better than Davis’ .247 average — which was both his overall average and average as a DH (not to mention his batting average in each of the last four seasons, which is kinda creepy). Martinez’s slash line of .297/.373/.597 and absurd .970 OPS were all better than Davis’ at DH, which checked in at .247/.328/.555 and .883, respectively.
It isn’t a completely lost offseason for Martinez. He did become the first player to ever win a Silver Slugger award at two different positions in the same year, taking home the honors at DH and as an outfielder. He wouldn’t have won one of those had he not played 57 games in the outfield, but it also raises the question: How was Martinez good enough to win a Silver Slugger over Davis but not Outstanding DH?
While the MVP voters used Martinez’s time at DH against him, the DH award voters used his time in the field against him. What a predicament.
Really, in the end, Martinez gets disrespected once again. That seems to be a trend throughout his career, so the 31-year-old is probably used to it. And again, at least he’ll have a nice World Series ring to glance at whenever he feels disrespected in the near future.
It’s just that maybe next time, an award meant for the best DH in baseball will actually go to the best DH in baseball.