A lot was made of how the Red Sox didn’t have an adequate power threat last year – the first without Ortiz. After the 2016 season, they didn’t do what many expected them to do, which was sign or trade for a power bat. Their big free agent signing ended up being Mitch Moreland. It was an offseason more focused on pitching, with the acquisitions of Chris Sale and Tyler Thornburg.
Moreland had a good year with 22 homers and 79 RBI, but his average was low, at .246. He would have had a better season if it weren’t for him injuring his toe. But it was by no means a David Ortiz-like season. It most closely resembled Ortiz’s 2008, in which he hit 23 homers, drove in 89 runs, and batted .264 in only 109 games, all of which were higher than Moreland’s numbers in a full 2017 campaign.
Fast forward to this past offseason and the Red Sox again found themselves without a true power hitter. So they went out and did what many expected by signing Martinez to a 5 year, $110 million contract.
Now, after the first 43 games of the season, Martinez is putting up numbers that look even better than some that Ortiz put up. Christopher Smith of MassLive.com compared Martinez’s numbers thus far to Ortiz’s in the same amount of games in his final season.
2016 was one of the best seasons of Ortiz’s amazing career. It shows exactly what made him so important to the Red Sox lineup year in and year out. He would come up with clutch hits and drive in runs at a rate among the league leaders.
Martinez is doing the exact same thing this year. He’s tied for second in the league in RBI and comes up with big hits multiple times a week. Last night it was in the first inning, when he hit his twelfth homerun of the season to put the Red Sox up 3-0. It was only the first time in six total meetings they had scored first against Oakland.
Right now, Martinez is on pace to finish the season with 45 homers – the same amount he had last year. But as he’s showing right now and as he showed last September when he hit 16 homeruns and had 36 RBI, he’s capable of going on tears where he carries a team and anchors a lineup. If he can keep up this production, the Big Papi comparisons will just become more and more fitting.