Did J.D. Martinez suffer a fate similar to peers, or was his bad year a sign of things to come?
MLB.com’s Manny Randhawa on Monday included the Boston Red Sox designated hitter on his list of “10 rebound-hitter candidates” for the 2021 Major League Baseball season. Martinez struggled in 2020, posting a career-low batting average and his lowest OPS since 2013, but Randhawa believes his 11 percent barrel rate suggests last season was an “aberration.”
“Martinez uncharacteristically slugged just .389 last season after posting a .619 slugging percentage from 2017-19,” Randhawa wrote. “He hit 79 homers over his first two seasons with the Red Sox, but only seven in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. That performance has all the hallmarks of an aberration.
“While his hard-hit rate was down last year, Martinez’s barrel rate was pretty close to what it was in 2019, at 11.0 percent (11.8 percent in ’19). The unique circumstances surrounding the 60-game 2020 campaign resulted in several sluggers who normally finish with prodigious power numbers struggling at the plate, perhaps partly because of altered rules regarding in-game video study. But that might change this season, which could be a big lift for Martinez.”
Randhawa joins Red Sox manager Alex Cora among those who envision Martinez enjoying a big year in 2021.
Judging from his hilarious drunken Tom Brady T-shirt, Martinez arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., for Red Sox spring training in good spirits. He undoubtedly is determined to show 2020 was an aberration and will prove predictions Randhawa, Cora and others make about “J.D. Martinez” and “rebound” are, in fact, prophecies.