The city of Boston brings great pressure, but great reward to an emerging Red Sox slugger.
Boston is consistently recognized as one of the most difficult cities to play in. In all four major American sports, superstar athletes come to The City of Champions, get cold feet, and watch their careers go down the drain. That said, there’s a player right now who could care less about that narrative. And that player is your 2018 American League Most Valuable Player – J.D. Martinez.
In the 2009 MLB Draft, the Houston Astros were on the clock in the 20th round and a player from Nova-Southeastern University was on the board, JD Martinez. General Managers around baseball don’t exactly rave about guys picked in the 20th round and the same was true with JD. Michael Mominey, the head baseball coach of NSU at the time, still believed in him.
In his words he claimed, “JD is one of the best pure hitters I’d ever seen.”
As expected out of a 20th round pick, JD struggled at the start of his career. After four years of underwhelming baseball, he admitted he was headed in the wrong direction and needed an overhaul in his entire swing. He sought out help. Craig Wallenbrock and Robert Van Scoyoc were two hitting instructors in the Southern California area with great experience and baseball knowledge. They’ve previously worked with Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and Twins catcher Jason Castro. JD knew working with guys like that couldn’t hurt and he embraced the whole process immensely.
In 2014, all of his hard work eventually paid off. He went on to have the best season of his career to that point. And nothing’s changed from then to now. The right handed slugger has cemented himself as a force throughout baseball and is a terror for opposing pitchers with his unique ability to drive the ball to all fields. His skillset enabled him to cash in this past off-season. JD agreed to a 5 year / 110 million dollar contract. He so far has earned every penny. This season, Martinez currently leads all of baseball in homeruns with 32 and RBIs with 89. He is third in OPS (1.033) and is also third in WRC+ (172).
The Red Sox slugger has put himself in prime opportunity to win a World Series title and the American League MVP award. He’s ranked third in batting average (.323), second in slugging (.638), first in homeruns (32), fourth in OPS, and first in RBI’s (89).
Perhaps his biggest competition is his own teammate, Mookie Betts that has challenged him for the lead in a number of offensive categories. Regardless of whether, or not, Martinez wins the AL MVP this season, he’s proved his worth to the Red Sox and the city of Boston. He has proven that he can handle the bright lights at Fenway and the rivalry with the Bombers.
It is also worth noting that JD is as good of a locker room presence anyone in baseball. He’s taken over a leadership role in Boston and has been a main contributor in the Red Sox having their best record since 1946. With a strong second half, JD Martinez should be a shoe in for the league MVP and proof that hard work DOES pay off.