For all this talk of baseball being dead the past few days, the Red Sox – and namely JD Martinez – have their chance to own this town starting now. The Celtics’ hot stove is dying down, and the Patriots won’t play a real football game until after Labor Day. We’re now knee deep in summer, and it’s finally the Sox’ time to shine. A few barnburner wins over the Yankees, and a few more Red Sox JD Martinez jacks should do the trick.
Yeah, Martinez hasn’t been fully embraced by the Boston faithful just yet, but if this current hitting magic continues into October then he will most certainly be knighted.
Martinez’s first year with the Sox has been remarkable, as he is legitimately a contender to win the Triple Crown (leading the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average).
Winning the Triple Crown in baseball is sasquatch-rare, as Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera has been the only MLB player to accomplish the feat in the past 50 years. Before Cabrera broke the dry spell in 2012, the Red Sox’ own Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to do so – in 1967. Since RBIs became an official stat in 1920, only 12 baseball players have done the deed.
Red Sox JD Martinez is currently leading the American League in home runs with 27, and in RBIs with 74. It’s looking like he’s going to run away with the RBI title as he is 12 RBIs ahead of No. 2 on the list – Edwin Encarnacion of the Cleveland Indians with 62. Martinez is currently two up on Mike Trout in homers.
Red Sox JD Martinez
The one Triple Crown category where Martinez does not lead right now is batting average, as teammate Mookie Betts is the class of the AL there – hitting at a .342 clip. Martinez is currently fourth on that list with a .329 average, but was hitting above .340 as recently as May 22. Betts has never hit better than .318 over the course of a season, so it’s entirely possible that he and several other contenders will drop.
Either way, Red Sox JD Martinez and Betts have a nice little friendly rivalry going.
“You always see [Betts] on the top step in the dugout every time I come in,” Martinez told MassLive earlier this season. “We’re just kind of laughing, talking smack with each other and stuff like that. We have a good relationship.”
Martinez, who was recently called “the best hitter in baseball” by MLB Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, has an evolving mind for hitting that has affected this year’s Red Sox team monumentally. Martinez has helped Betts with his swing, as well as several other players on the Sox - including Rafael Devers who was enduring a hitting slump earlier this year.
“Devers actually had a great weekend of work in the cage,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in early June (via CNHI). “A few things JD noticed and threw it out there to him.”
Lo and behold, in the remaining 18 games played by the Red Sox that month – Devers went on a tear and collected 23 hits.
The Triple Crown is all about individual statistical achievement and is very much a selfish award. But if Betts comes out the winner in batting average at Martinez’s expense, don’t expect No. 28 to put up much of a stink.