I’m not wrong very often but I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. I was wrong about Joey Bosa. I never saw the athletic traits to become an elite pass rusher. It turned out that his technique and motor was flawless and that he didn’t need to be a top-tier athlete to be productive. I learned from that mistake. Many years ago I was also wrong about Michigan State wide receiver Charles Johnson. I thought he was going to be better than Miami wideout, Andre Johnson. It turned out that I was wrong, partially because it never seemed like Johson never cared.
If you remember correctly, prior to the season I was not in favor of the JD Martinez signing. I’ve seen the likes of JD Drew, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carl Crawford, and Pablo Sandoval cash in on huge contracts and not only fail to live up to expectations but flat out stink. Hell, the Red Sox are still paying that piece of trash Sandoval. When JD Martinez became available this winter, I was terrified for a few reasons that included him switching agencies to Scott Boras. I thought I saw it coming from a mile away. This was a guy who was coming off one really good year and was just looking for that one big payday before he went back to not caring. It turned out that I was totally wrong. Here’s my formal apology to JD Martinez.
One of the struggles with being a sports analyst is that we really don’t get a behind the scenes curtain on a player’s character. Sometimes you can get a gauge by body language or off the field decision making but you really never know for sure. One of the many advantages that Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski had when making the JD Martinez signing was he knew who the person was. Dombrowski was the man who signed Martinez when he was flat out released from the Astros. He worked his tail off to become a stud with the Tigers and did nothing but continue to improve. Dombrowski knew he was good but he also got the inside scoop on the kind of worker Martinez was. This sole factor has been the reason why JD has thrived in Boston. The dude is a tireless worker and really flat out cares about his craft.
The moment I knew when I was going to be wrong is when I started to hear the stories about his work in batting practice. Martinez literally films every single swing he takes in batting practice. I’ve never heard of such a thing but it goes to show the kind of work he puts in.
Here’s an interview he did with MLB.com that shows the kind of guy he is:
“MLB.com: You’ve been described as OCD when it comes to hitting. When did that develop?
Martinez: It kind of started when I got released [by the Astros in 2014]. I mean, I always loved to hit, so I guess that’s not true. I’ve always loved hitting, and even as a kid, I always hit. Growing up, it was almost like a drug, going into the cage and hitting. It was like a relaxation. I kind of fell in love with it back then.
MLB.com: You are meticulous even with your batting practice, making sure that gets filmed every day. What kind of things do you take from that?
Martinez: A lot of things. I kind of see where my swing is at. For me, it’s going through my checklist that I have with my mechanics and where I want to be at certain points and certain spots throughout my swing.
MLB.com: Do you feel almost like you were ahead of the curve with this whole launch-angle phenomenon?
Martinez: Yeah, I don’t know what else to say. I was. People see the results from it and kind of go from there.”
Martinez has just been a tireless worker, who films every batting practice swing, and has really bought into the new era of analytics. From someone who watching Red Sox games daily, you have to put the over under at about 5 for the number of times you see an iPad being used inside the clubhouse. Hitting coach Tim Hyers has really been a revelation for this team coming over from the Dodgers coaching staff and many players have taken to his hitting tactics. I’m not smart enough or tapped in to know exactly what goes on but it seems to be working. Look at how many guys, including Martinez, are having career years. Keep in mind, we aren’t even at the All-Star break and this team has scored 457 runs to lead the majors. They scored 785 the entire season a year ago.
JD Martinez 2017: .303/.376/.690, 45 home runs, 103 RBI’s
JD Martinez 2018: .327/.392/.642, 26 home runs, 71 RBI’s
Mitch Moreland 2017: .246/.326/.443, 22 home runs, 79 RBI’s
Mitch Moreland 2018: .288/.354/.533, 11 home runs, 40 RBI’s
Mookie Betts 2017: .264/.344/.459, 24 home runs, 102 RBI’s
Mookie Betts 2018: .338/.432/.669, 21 home runs, 42 RBI’s
Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts have also been better this season as well. Remember all of those times I tried to tell you that John Farrell was the worst manager in baseball. Will you finally believe me! I’ve been nothing but thrilled with the job that Alex Cora and his staff has done in 2018. Boston is so good that they are on pace to have the best record in major league history. I mean just look at the way hitting coach, Tim Hyers, talks in interviews. He doesn’t even sound like a real human being. Imagine what kind of detail actually goes on behind the scenes.
“If we’re hitting anything 15 degrees to 25 degrees with good exit velocity,” Hyers said via masslive.com. “Launch angle means nothing if you don’t hit the ball hard. You can hit the ball 60 mph and have the perfect launch angle but nothing’s going to happen.
“So when they hit the ball hard at the right launch angle, then that’s when they’re going to get serious results,” Hyers added. “We’re ultimately shooting for line drives. If we hit something at 10 degrees at 100 mph, it’s still great. But it’s really hard to do that. What we’re doing is we’re giving ourselves a little leeway of going, ‘OK, hit it 15 to 27-30 degrees and you hit it really hard, a lot of good things are really going to happen.'”
JD Martinez has also been crucial with the development of Boston’s young hitters. He’s been the clubhouse leader in many ways. In recent weeks he even helped fix a hitch on third baseman Rafael Devers swing. Devers started out his swing with his front foot as far away from home plate as possible. That lead to him chasing far too many pitches outside of the zone. Devers has since brought his front foot in with the help of Martinez and has been smacking baseballs since. Martinez has been a big influence to the young Sox and has been something Boston desperately needed since the retirement of David Ortiz.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 1, 2018
The man who is known as Jumbo Dong around the streets of Boston not only has been fantastic but has a real shot at the triple crown. He leads the majors in home runs and RBI’s and only trails teammate Mookie Betts for the lead in average. Martinez is a true hitter in every sense of the word and has been the closest thing the Red Sox have had since Manny Ramirez who was a childhood hero of mine. In fact, Martinez has the club record for home runs prior to the All-Star break, which was a mark previously held by Manny. After seeing the likes of Pablo Sandoval and other bums take the money and run, Martinez has lived up to his promise and deliver dingers. I’m sorry I doubted JD. I’m rooting for you the rest of the way.