If you’re a fan of Boston sports then you probably have some thoughts on the local sports radio stations around here. Personally, I don’t HATE them, but man can they frustrate me. I guess that means they’re doing a good job, because it gets me to tune in. A buddy described it best once when he said roughly 75% of what they say is true, but there’s always the other 25% that is just plain bananas and leaves listeners with a headache.
One of the stronger hot takes they had this past off-season was about a 30-year-old DH/outfielder named Julio Daniel Martinez. If you recall, Martinez signed late in the off-season. It was all part of the negotiation process. JD’s agent, Scott Boras, wanted more money. The Red Sox knew he didn’t have many other suitors. That’s why Boston was able to eventually sign him for the very reasonable price tag of five years and $110 million (with some opt outs mixed in).
Incredibly, sports radio took the delayed signing to mean that Martinez “didn’t want to come here”. I haven’t listened much lately, but boy do I hope they are eating their words.
JDM has been nothing short of absurd in his first year with the Red Sox. Last night versus the Astros he hit his MLB-leading 19th homer, an opposite field line drive that Martinez was somehow strong enough to knock outta the park.
The homer was symbolic of JD's overall season. We knew he was a power hitter before coming to town. Martinez posted a .714 slugging percentage last year, which was higher than Giancarlo Stanton's. But what has been so cool to see is how complete of a bat he is. He can pull the ball for power. He can go oppo. He can hit for average. He can drive in runs. He can get on base. Martinez was released by the Astros four years ago and since then has committed himself to the launch angle revolution. He's a student of hitting. He knows what he's doing.
So far, the stats back it up. My goodness do the stats back it up! JDM began the year innocently enough, hitting .352 with five homers in April. Then he dialed it up in May, belting 13 homers while driving in 25 runs in 28 games. Now let's look at his season long numbers. Again, along with the LEAGUE LEADING 19 homers, Martinez leads baseball in RBI (48) while ranking third in OPS (1.042) and SLG (.664). Oh, and he's hitting .318 overall. Complete. Hitter.
His season obviously seems like it’ll be deserving of plenty of recognition. For example, perhaps he gets the start at DH for the American League in the All-Star game. While this seems like a no-brainer there are already people calling for two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to get that nod. I get it. I want to see him play in the ASG too. I think he should both hit and pitch in it. And while he’s been great he just hasn’t had the same impact JDM has offensively. Ohtani has appeared in just 31 games as a hitter thus far, roughly half of the 55 Martinez has started in.
The ASG lineups are determined by fan vote, meaning Ohtani might get the start. Even if he does, don’t let that distract you from how dominant Julio Daniel has been this year. Believe it or not sports radio might’ve been wrong about him. Turns out he's pretty good.