The Boston Red Sox were destined to land J.D. Martinez from the beginning of the offseason.
Martinez was the biggest free agent power hitter, hitting 45 home runs in the 2017 season, and the Red Sox had the lowest home run total in the American League in that same year. When looking at Martinez’s initial asking price of a seven-year, $210 million contract the signing seems even better.
Earlier in the offseason, the New York Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, giving them the two players with the highest home run counts of 2017. While he had the third highest home run total of 2017, is signing Martinez enough to combat the Bronx?
Aaron Judge—the American League Rookie of the Year—-wowed everybody in the league with his raw power, as he set a new record for most home runs in a rookie season with 52. While this may seem impressive, for every one of Judge’s home runs he struck out four times.
Judge struck out 208 times, which was a rookie season record, a tie for sixth-most strikeouts in one season, and the eleventh time a player has ever struck out 200 times in one season. Most of these strikeouts came during his slump after the All-Star break in August when he struck out 41 times and was batting .186. He also set a record for most consecutive games with a strikeout, striking out in 37 straight games.
While Martinez did not hit as many home runs or drive in as many runs as Judge, he played 36 fewer games than Judge. However, due to the long slump Judge went through in August, he only hit three home runs in 27 games. This means that if Judge missed 36 games his home run numbers would not vary from his current stats.
Martinez does have a better batting average and a much better slugging percentage than Judge, with Martinez batting .303/.376/.690 in 2017 and Judge batting .284/.422/.627. Martinez also struck out 80 times less than Judge.
Stanton had an outstanding season in 2017 and he will be playing his first season away from the Miami Marlins in 2018. After only missing three games of the season, Stanton came one home run away from a 60 home run season. However, Stanton has a history full of injuries.
His first trip to the disabled list was on July 8, 2012. While Stanton came back in August of that season, he was back on the disabled list on Apr. 30, 2013 for a right hamstring strain. Stanton returned in early June but went back to the disabled list two years later for breaking his left hand and in 2016 for another strain. Stanton has been on the DL in half of the Major League seasons he has played.
Martinez has the same problem as Stanton, as he has also been placed on the disabled list four times in his seven-year career. During his last season with the Houston Astros, Martinez was placed on the disabled list for a sprained knee and was on the disabled list again three months later for a sprained wrist. In the 2016 season, Martinez missed all of July due to a fractured right elbow, and he even missed all of April due to a foot sprain. He also spent some time on the disabled list during his minor league time in 2011.
While they both have a history of injury, Stanton has much more power than Martinez does, but Martinez has better numbers when talking about percentages and averages, as Stanton was hitting .281/.376/.631. However, Stanton or Martinez may not perform as planned in the likely case one of them gets injured.
While having Martinez will not increase the home run totals for the Red Sox enough to combat the New York Yankees, if Martinez stays healthy he will be a great asset to the team.