JD Martinez continues to make Boston fans fall in love with him.
Martinez smacked a 3-run home run in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday night against the New York Yankees. Mookie Betts struck out as the leadoff batter, but Andrew Benintendi singled and Steve Pearce walked to set the table for Martinez.
The Red Sox DH took a pitch low and in from JA Happ and lined it out to left, barely clearing the Green Monster:
Martinez continued his excellent year into the postseason. He batted .330 with 37 doubles and 43 home runs with 130 RBIs in the regular season, and now he opens the postseason with a huge 3-run homer to make it 3-0 against the rival Yankees.
The MLB playoff race can conceivably be boiled down to about 12 teams, with one or two more on the fringes but looking less realistic by the day. Those 12 teams are in different spots. Some will feel better than others about their chances of making an impact in the playoffs, but each team has at least one player upon whom they can rely.
Here’s a look at each contender’s most important player.
Arizona Diamondbacks — Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
For a team that has often been known for having a powerhouse offense, the Diamondbacks have at times struggled to get men on base this season. That has not been a problem for Goldschmidt, who remains one of the game’s more overlooked stars. For the fifth time in seven seasons, he has surpassed 30 home runs and is the centerpiece of Arizona’s offense. When he does well, they do well.
As we head towards the final month of the regular season, the pennant races in baseball are heating up, and so are the awards races. The MVP races in both leagues are looking very intriguing as we get into crunch time.
In the American League, there are several worthy candidates, though two teams are heavily represented. The National League race is even more wide open, with no clear standouts — a factor that could open the door to a pitcher winning the award for the first time since 2014.
Here’s a look at the top five MVP candidates in both the American and National League.
5) Francisco Lindor, Indians
Lindor finished fifth in last year’s voting and he’s having an even better season than he did last year. Hitting just shy of .300 and with his second consecutive 30-home run season in sight, the Cleveland shortstop’s candidacy will be bolstered not just by his offensive numbers, but because he plays quality defense at one of the most important positions on the field. Despite this, he’s viewed as a longshot, as his offensive numbers lag behind those of his key competitors.
The Boston Red Sox mounted an improbable comeback against the New York Yankees on Sunday night, and J.D. Martinez feels it was made possible in part by Aroldis Chapman not intimidating hitters the way he once did.
Martinez hit a single off Chapman with two outs in the 9th inning that drove in two and cut New York’s lead to 4-3. The Red Sox then tied the score on a throwing error and went on to win in extra innings. After the game, Martinez explained why he believes Chapman has lost some of his effectiveness.
He may have a point. Chapman’s fastball has been clocked as high as 105 mph, but there are several relievers across Major League Baseball that hover around the 100-mph range. Boston’s closer, Craig Kimbrel, is one of them. Like any other pitcher in the big leagues, Chapman is most effective when he’s hitting his spots. A fastball right down the middle of the plate is a mistake most MLB hitters can capitalize on — no matter how much steam is on it.
For what it’s worth, Chapman’s blown save on Sunday was only his second of the season. He has 29 saves and an ERA of 2.25, so he’s still getting plenty of hitters out. There has been some concern recently that he could be dealing with an injury, but the left-hander insists that is not the case.
Whether Martinez is right or wrong, it’s a good sign for the Red Sox that their best hitter is not intimidated by their biggest rival’s best reliever.
JD Martinez’s day off Saturday against his old team did not sit well with some.
The Boston Red Sox All-Star outfielder was out of the lineup for their game against the Detroit Tigers, marking just his seventh missed contest of the year.
After the game (a 5-0 victory for Detroit), Tigers starter Mike Fiers, who fired 6.1 shutout innings to earn the win, seemed to rip Martinez. He said that Martinez was scared to face him and accused the AL RBIs leader of asking for a day off against him, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
Jason Beck of MLB.com indicated that the comment was in good fun though, as the two used to be teammates in college at Nova Southeastern University.
Martinez spent four seasons with Detroit before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks last trade deadline. However, he was never teammates on the Tigers with Fiers, who just arrived from the Houston Astros last winter.
Granted, the last feud that Fiers had with an opposing slugger was very real, so this is definitely a good change of pace for the veteran righty.
JD Martinez is expected to play on Sunday despite not being in the lineup for Saturday’s game due to soreness.
The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reported on Saturday that Martinez has soreness after smacking into a wall on Friday while making a catch against his former team. Here’s the play:
Abraham says that Martinez is expected to be OK to play on Sunday against Detroit.
Martinez has been arguably the best hitter in baseball this season. He’s batting .325 with 29 homers and a 1.031 OPS, so any time he misses will be of great concern.
Fresh off landing one of the biggest free agent contracts of the winter, JD Martinez now has his sights set on another goal.
The Boston Red Sox outfielder said on Sunday that he hates his reputation as a poor defender and is motivated to change the public perception of him on that side of the ball, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
Martinez, who just signed a five-year, $110 million mega-deal with the Red Sox, has always been known more for his bat than his glove. The numbers seem to back up that reputation as well — Martinez finished last season with -5 defensive runs saved (40th out of 56 qualified outfielders) and a -7.7 ultimate zone rating (53rd out of 56), according to Fangraphs.
But as he said above, the ex-All-Star does not quite agree with those advanced metrics, and that motivation should give him even more to play for this year.
J.D. Martinez got some encouraging words about the Boston Red Sox from a former and now current teammate.
Martinez said at his introductory press conference Monday that pitcher David Price had talked up the Red Sox and their fans during the recruitment process.
“David’s always spoken very well and very highly and especially of the fan base and pitching in that ball park and how fun it is to go out there every day,” Martinez said, via Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald. “Football has Monday night. They say at Fenway every night is like ‘Monday Night Football’ over there.
“I’m excited. To play in front of fans that are just as passionate and love it just as much, it’s exciting.”
Martinez is leaving out the other half of the warning that Price said he gave him, understandably so. For now, Martinez is excited, and clearly thinks he’ll be able to handle whatever reaction he gets.
The Boston Red Sox finally announced the signing of outfielder J.D. Martinez on Monday, and the person in charge of the team’s social media account had no problem acknowledging that the saga took a while to play out.
The Red Sox were considered the most likely suitor for Martinez all offseason, and some of their fans became a bit antsy early on. Back in December, one person told the team to stop tweeting until Martinez was signed.
As it turns out, someone with Boston’s social media team saved that tweet. After Monday’s announcement, they circled back.
Red Sox fans became even more impatient over the past week, as there were reports from last Monday that a five-year, $110 million deal was agreed upon only to have concerns about Martinez’s physical pop up. It took a little longer than expected, but the Red Sox were ultimately satisfied with everything. And, clearly, they couldn’t wait to shut that one fan up.
After a rather lengthy delay, the Boston Red Sox are reportedly poised to finalize the terms of the J.D. Martinez deal.
Though reports indicated six days ago that Martinez and the Red Sox had agreed a deal, the confirmation has been held up by an unspecified medical issue. There was even some talk that the terms of the contract could be adjusted.
That apparently hasn’t been necessary, and according to reports, the Red Sox have scheduled a Monday press conference to confirm the deal with terms unchanged.
We still know very little about the specifics of what led to the delay, but this sort of thing isn’t entirely unprecedented. Whatever the issue was, it doesn’t sound as serious as it was in that instance.