J.D. Martinez finished fourth in American League MVP voting in 2018 — behind winner Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and Jose Ramirez — and the Boston Red Sox slugger doubts he’ll ever get over the hump if he continues to serve primarily as a designated hitter.
A DH never has been named MVP, and this isn’t lost on Martinez, who knew last season he faced an uphill climb despite posting huge numbers in his first year with the Red Sox.
“I kind of laughed about it because everybody was making a big deal about it, like, ‘You had a chance to win,’ and stuff like that,” Martinez told reporters Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., upon arriving at Red Sox spring training. “And I was like, ‘Guys, there’s no way the analytics guys are ever going to let that happen.’ For a DH to win an MVP, they’re going to have to walk on water. That will never happen.”
Martinez hit .330 with 43 home runs, 130 RBIs and a 1.031 OPS. He made a serious run at the Triple Crown but still received little love in MVP voting because he spent considerable time as Boston’s DH (93 games) in addition to occasionally patrolling the outfield (57 games). It also didn’t help Martinez’s case that his teammate, Betts, was excellent offensively, defensively and on the bases.
“It became the talk in the clubhouse last year and everyone was like, ‘The only way you’re going to win is if you win the Triple Crown or whatever,’ ” Martinez said Sunday. “I was like, ‘100 percent. That’s the only chance.’ When it came out, I expected it. I kind of laughed about it. I know how my peers think of me, and I know how my peers thought of me with the text messages I got and the congratulations I got, and last year I won the Players Choice MVP of the season and that to me was huge to be voted by my peers.”
Martinez still secured plenty of hardware despite falling short of AL MVP honors. He was named an All-Star and became the first player ever to win two Silver Slugger awards in the same season — one for outfield and one for DH.
Oh yeah, and the Red Sox won the World Series, which is enough to soften any blow.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images