J.D. Martinez made quite the impression during his first season with the Boston Red Sox. The slugger belted 43 home runs and drove in 130 runs en route to winning Silver Slugger Awards at two different positions for Boston.
Martinez helped his teammates with their swings when he saw something was off and played a huge role in helping the Red Sox reach the postseason. But even with his historic numbers and the season he compiled, one Red Sox legend believes he’s not getting the credit he deserves.
Speaking during his 11th Annual David Ortiz Golf Classic in the Dominican Republic, Ortiz said the way a designated hitter is looked at “sucks” and explained why Martinez is the MVP of the team.
“How about if I tell you J.D. made Mookie (Betts) better. He made (Xander) Bogaerts better. Every lineup needs a guy like him so he takes pressure off the rest of the guys so the guys can be better,” Ortiz said via WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “Look at the 2017 season, look at the 2016 season and then look at the 2018 season, then you tell me. Be my guest … To me, J.D. Martinez is that difference. He was and he is going to continue being that difference.”
Ortiz instantly was amazed by Martinez and it started the first day he showed up to spring training.
“Baseball players, we feed off each other based on what we see and the way J.D. Martinez approach the game ? I remember the first day I came to camp, after watching him take batting practice I said I had never seen anything like this before,” he said. “I played with Manny Ramirez, who was one of the best right-handed hitters I had ever seen and I played against Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera who are two of the best hitters that ever played the game.”
For Ortiz, the opposite-field power Martinez possessed was mind-blowing. He knew he would pose a threat to any pitcher he faced because of how he was able to spray the ball throughout the field.
“J.D. Martinez, he was doing something I couldn?t understand,” Ortiz told Bradford. “How does somebody hit to the opposite field with that much power over and over and over. It was hard for me to get that. For me it was beautiful. I know when you?re capable of doing something like that pitchers are going to be miserable. I saw all of that in spring training. It?s a different language. I saw it coming because I?m a hitter and I know how to play it out. But if you don?t give credit to J.D. Martinez, not any type of credit. I?m talking about the real credit.
“OK, Mookie Betts was the MVP, but you were the runner-up. That?s the type of credit he needs to get. Not this other (expletive). Come on, man. I never understand it.”
As you probably know, Martinez didn’t even finish in the top three for MVP voting and only received one first-place vote. But his impact on the Red Sox’s season certainly did not go unnoticed amongst Boston fans.