Martinez bounces back big for Red Sox

Martinez tearing cover off ball for BoSox

For a lot of people, 2020 was a year to forget. J.D. Martinez would consider himself among them – at least as far as on-field performance goes.

Indeed, the Boston Red Sox’s designated hitter suffered a down year in the pandemic-shortened 60-game ’20 season, posting totals of a .213 batting average with seven home runs, 27 RBIs, a .291 on-base percentage and a .680 OPS over 54 games. That’s a far cry from his 2019 numbers of .304, 36, 105, .383 and .939 – as well as what he’s done so far this year.

As of mid-May, the 33-year-old Miami native led or was among the major league leaders in many important offensive categories, including average (.333), homers (10), RBIs (31), on-base percentage (.425), total bases (72) and OPS (1.075).

And the reason for his success? He’s driving the ball again – and he used 2020 as motivation for his comeback year.

Listen to Martinez talk and you’ll hear the words of an old-school student of the game who takes pride in hitting the ball where it’s pitched and driving it to all fields – not someone consumed by launch angle and swinging for distance. He considers himself a hitter first and bat control and discipline are his guiding principles. “Slugger” to him is a dirty word. Yet, the homers keep coming.

Most importantly, he’s again the linchpin of a Boston offense that scores runs in bunches and is a major reason why the team sits atop the AL East standings through the season’s first six weeks.

Martinez and the Sox can be seen in action on ESPN Monday, May 31, when they open a four-game road series against the Houston Astros.

Player Profile

J.D. Martinez

Full name: Julio Daniel Martinez

Birth date: August 21, 1987

Birthplace: Miami

Height/weight: 6 feet, 3 inches/220 pounds

Teams: Houston Astros (2011-13), Detroit Tigers (2014-17), Arizona Diamondbacks (2017), Boston Red Sox (2018-present)

Position: Outfield/designated hitter

Bats/throws: Right/right

Honors and achievements: American League All-Star (2015, 2018, 2019); Silver Slugger Award (2015, 2018); World Series champion (2018); AL RBI leader (2018)

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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