J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts Look to Carry the Boston Red Sox into October

J.D. Martinez
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox hits a home run in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 30, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox are clicking on all cylinders right now. They currently have the best record in all of baseball at 97-44, sitting 9.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the American League East. The next closest team to the Sox is the Houston Astros, who have 87 wins. The two teams will face off this weekend in a must-see series featuring arguably the best two teams in the big leagues. A vital reason for Boston’s success this year is the offensive prowess from their two best hitters, Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez. The two sluggers are currently tied for the highest batting average across the majors at .335.

J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts Look to Carry the Boston Red Sox into October

Martinez is currently in the talks for capturing the first triple crown since Miguel Cabrera did so back in 2012. The last time a player won a triple crown before Cabrera was way back in 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat for guess who; the Red Sox. Martinez currently leads the league in RBI, average (tied with Betts), and second in homers with 39, just one behind Oakland’s Khris Davis, who’s clubbed 40.

Betts is an absolute sparkplug at the top of Boston’s lineup. He is the definition of a five-tool guy who excels at every part of the game on the baseball field.

Can these two lead the Red Sox to a deep playoff run this October?

Mookie Betts

At just 5 foot 9, Betts makes up for his lack of size with a ton of bat speed that translates to some impressive power at the plate. The three-time All-Star has gone deep 29 times this year, which ranks him in the top 15 in the majors. Betts is also second in the league with 111 runs. There are two big reasons for this. First, he’s an outstanding runner on the basepaths and usually gets on base as Boston’s leadoff guy. He’s swiped 26 bags this year which does help because he puts himself in scoring position very often. Secondly, he usually has Andrew Benintendi hitting right behind him, then Martinez in the three spot. Especially with Martinez behind hitting third, who has been tearing the cover off the ball all year, there’s a pretty good chance he will be coming across the plate when Martinez steps up to the plate.

Betts has collected a career-high 92 mph exit velocity off the bat this year. His best previous was 2015, at 89.9. This also shows that he is hitting the ball on the barrel quite often. His hard hit percentage, which means how often he actually squares up a baseball, is 49.6 percent. That ranks him in the top four percent of the majors.

Defensively, Betts covers a ton of ground in right field. He has a very strong throwing arm, hitting the high 90s with some of his throws at times. His range is phenomenal thanks to his superior athleticism.

Betts is a huge part of this team, if not the biggest part. As a leadoff guy, it’s so important to get things started and start a trend. More often than not, Betts usually does just that. Hitting is contagious. One guy gets a base knock, and the next follows.

Betts will be an enormous part of the Red Sox heading into the postseason.

J.D. Martinez

The Red Sox took some time to reach a deal with Martinez in the off-season, eventually agreeing to a five-year contract worth 110 million. It might seem like a lot of money for one player, but he has absolutely been worth it this season. He’s one of the sole reasons the Red Sox are the best team in baseball right now. He’s been a monster at the plate this year, spraying balls all over Fenway. As mentioned above, he currently leads the big leagues in several categories. But here’s a more in-depth look at his brilliance this year.

Martinez sits in the top two percent of the league with an average exit velocity of 93.2. This is very impressive because this means whether he’s hitting a hard ground ball to the shortstop or just getting under a perfect fastball down the middle of the plate, he’s still hitting these balls extremely hard. Evident by his stats this year, it’s more often that he is finding green space in the outfield when he hits balls hard or they’re leaving the yard entirely. His hard hit percentage this year leads the majors at 53.7%. This another testament to how locked in he is this year. More than 50% of the time he’s at the plate, Martinez is hitting the ball hard.

Another impressive part of his offensive game is how he uses the whole field. He’s hit almost half of his homers to center or right field, per Fangraphs. He does a very good job of hitting the ball where it’s pitched, showing his maturity level and patience at the plate. Martinez has a 17.2 percent barrel percentage this season, which puts him in the top one percent of the majors. Martinez has been well worth the investment for Boston and has been one of their most productive hitters this year along with Betts at the heart of their lineup.

Can they make it to the Fall Classic?

The Red Sox lead the majors with a team average of .268, while their pitching staff also has a team ERA of 3.62. All around, this team looks very good. With Martinez and Betts leading them offensively, they look to be in good hands. On the mound, Chris Sale should be back soon from shoulder inflammation, while David Price and Rick Porcello have both impressed as part of Boston’s rotation. Getting Sale back will be a huge boost with his 1.97 ERA and lights out stuff. Combine their solid pitching and electric offense, and Boston should be able to make a serious postseason run this fall.

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