Just think: There was a point where it was unclear whether J.D. Martinez would play in a postseason game for the 2021 Boston Red Sox.
The slugger suffered an ankle injury during Boston’s regular-season finale against the Washington Nationals. He then missed the Red Sox’s AL Wild Card Game win over the New York Yankees, as well as Boston’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.
But Martinez returned in Game 2 of the ALDS, and all he’s done since is rake. The 34-year-old enters Game 4 of the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night batting .423 (11-for-26) with three home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.310 OPS in six playoff contests.
Basically, Martinez has been exceptional at taking advantage of opposing pitchers’ mistakes, evidenced by the following graphic showing the damage he’s inflicted on pitches up in the strike zone.
As Adler notes, Martinez is hitting .563 with three homers and a 1.188 slugging percentage on pitches in the upper two-thirds of the zone this postseason. He’s totaled nine hits on 27 such pitches.
Martinez, who enters Tuesday having homered in back-to-back games, is no stranger to playoff success. He’s batting .342 (26-for-76) with six homers and 24 RBIs through 20 career postseason games with Boston. His 1.054 playoff OPS with the Red Sox is the highest in franchise history among players with at least 75 postseason plate appearances.
But Martinez has found another level over the last week and a half. And it’s helped set the tone for a Red Sox offense that has looked unstoppable at times.