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Where would the Red Sox be without J.D. Martinez?

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The Boston Red Sox were an excellent team in 2017, going 93-69 and winning the AL East before losing to the Astros in the Division Series.

The Red Sox made one major transaction in the offseason, signing J.D. Martinez as a free agent. As you know, Martinez has terrorized pitchers all season, hitting .333/.400/.665 while leading the majors in home runs (37), RBIs (104), extra-base hits (71) and total bases (292). He’s second to teammate Mookie Betts with a .333 batting average, 17 points behind Betts, so a Triple Crown remains a possibility.

The Red Sox have scored 661 runs through 121 games; at last year’s rate, they would have scored 587 runs through 121 games. That’s 74 more runs — but Martinez isn’t responsible for all 74 of those runs. We can estimate that Martinez has created about 114 runs so far; last year, Red Sox DHs created about 97 runs (or 72 over 121 games). Martinez has created roughly 42 more runs so far than last year’s DHs. (For this quick and dirty little study, we’ll ignore that Martinez has started 44 games in the outfield. We’re just trying to estimate how much of the offensive improvement should go to Martinez.)cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

Others deserve credit as well, most notably Mr. Betts. After all, Martinez doesn’t even lead his own team in on-base or slugging percentage; Betts does. Betts is hitting .350/.439/.668 compared to .264/.344/.459 in 2017. He’s already created more runs than he did in all of 2017 — about 124 to 105, via the numbers at Baseball-Reference.com. Prorated over the same number of plate appearances, Betts has been an incredible 55 runs better.

Indeed, Betts’ improvement has arguably provided a bigger impact than the addition of Martinez.4

Of course, that ignores the trickle-down effect of adding Martinez. Maybe he provides lineup protection. Maybe he makes the other hitters better merely by his presence. Those are speculative ideas, however. One of the earliest and longest-running sabermetrics issues is the question of lineup protection, but comprehensive study after comprehensive study has failed to prove that such a thing exists. The Red Sox are better at the plate because Martinez is better than the players they had last year at his positions and because Betts is better than Betts.

All this ignores the pitching and defense. The Red Sox have allowed 3.69 runs per game compared to 4.12 in 2017 (52 runs better over 121 games). Even adjusting for the slight leaguewide downturn in offense, the pitching and defense have been better than last season.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Martinez has been incredible. He’s been worth 5.6 WAR so far, on pace for a 7.5-WAR season. That’s an MVP-level season, and his Triple Crown push puts him right up there with Jose Ramirez, Betts, Francisco Lindor and Mike Trout in the MVP race. If you dig deeper, you can find some added value from Martinez as well — for example, he leads the majors in win probability added. He’s hit .368 with runners in scoring position. He’s hit .326/.442/.651 in “late and close” situations and .360/.462/.748 when the game is tied. Really, he’s mashed in every situation.

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