NEW YORK — The Red Sox play seven of their last game on the field at Fenway Park and J.D. Martinez will cherish the club’s history.
“The Fans are simply the most amazing. There’s never a dull moment,” Martinez said Sunday prior to the Sox faced the Yankees. “It’s been a blast, a amazing experience. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Martinez has spoken using the present tense of his playing career with the Sox since he is an unrestricted free agent following this year’s World Series. The Sox have not received any communication by the Sox regarding the possibility of extending his contract.
A costly 35-year-old full-time designated player is unlikely to be a top choice for the chief of baseball Chaim Bloom an executive who is a fan of defensive versatility.”I’d prefer to continue playing for the next two years at the very minimum,” Martinez said. “Hopefully I’ll find myself in a position where I am confident that I will be successful. A team that is winning will make the most from me.”
It’s been a strange campaign for Martinez. When the Sox played in the final game of Sunday’s series, he was ranked fourth overall in the American League with 40 doubles.But Martinez had just 12 home runs, the lowest total in a full season since he played part-time with Houston Astros in 2013. He also posted an average .766 OPS.
Sure there is a part of it due to his growing older, but the Sox compensated in a way by keeping him as a designated hitter throughout the season.
Martinez believes that the makeup of the ball has been the reason for his slump. The average slugging percentage of the league was .396 until Saturday. It was .411 the previous season.
Martinez has made a name for himself using the opposite field, had an average of 18 home runs on the right of dead center between 2017 through the season (excluding the 2020 season, which was cut short). He has now hit three.
Based on data obtained from BaseballSavant.com Righthanded hitters have 388 less home runs on the opposite field this year than they had in 2019.The popular belief among players is that Major League Baseball deadened the ball to decrease home runs and increase excitement on the field thanks to triples and doubles.
“That’s hurt me,” Martinez said. “You hit the ball and you anticipate it to go away but when it doesn’t, you believe there’s something wrong. It’s impossible to measure it.
“Then you’re practicing your swing and you’re tweaking it. Maybe you don’t need to do it. This has caused me mental stress. There are players trying to push the ball further.”
Martinez hit a fastball away from Nestor Cortes during the first game on Sunday. At an average speed of 99.4 miles/hour, the ball flew 388 feet and was caught by the base of the wall.
Sox director Alex Cora pointed out that Alex Cora, the manager of the Sox, said that “expected” numbers that measure bat speed, among other things, are higher than Martinez’s actual numbers.
“He had been hitting it with a lot of force and the ball was thrown around and he struggled,” Cora said. “But when you begin to look at the expected numbersand the players take that into account — and he perseveres. I can see him searching up until the end of the season, trying to and come up with something.”
There are other reasons as well. There was a general expectation among the leagues that Martinez was going to be traded to a rival prior to the August. 2 deadline for trades.
The Sox rather tried a of moves that led to the team becoming worse. Martinez was a player who would have been thrilled to move to a team that could compete but has sunk to .229 after the deadline.”It’s just been a weird this year” Martinez said.
If this is indeed the case with Martinez Does he feel the legacy he left was good in Boston?
“I am not sure,” he said. “You inform me.”
It’s a simple answer. Martinez was an all-time All-Star who recorded an 1.005 OPS in 23 postseason games, and never had an entire day on the injured list and, up to this point, was among the top players to run. Dave Dombrowski made a wise decision when signing Martinez prior to the start of the season in ’18.
“I’m satisfied with my results of the playoffs,” Martinez said. “I tried my best to help my teammates and set an example.
“It’s something different nowadays that has younger and more experienced players. I enjoy baseball. I enjoy going to the park, and when I return home, I am thinking about baseball. That’s me. It’s my job. I’ll emulate that wherever I go.”