J.D. Martinez may be known more for what he does with a bat in his hands as opposed to what he does in the outfield, but the slugger was recently recognized for his defensive work.
Earlier Tuesday, Martinez earned Major League Baseball’s Play of the Week award for the week of June 28 through July 4 for what he did against the Athletics at Oakland Coliseum this past Saturday.
With one out in the bottom half of the 10th inning of that particular contest, the Sox and A’s were deadlocked at four runs apiece, though Oakland was threatening with the bases loaded, meaning the winning run was just 90 feet away from home in the form of Sean Murphy.
On a 1-1, 91 mph fastball from Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman, Elvis Andrus laced a 260-foot, 101 mph screamer to Martinez in left field that had an expected batting average of .730.
Murphy — who ranks 26th among major-league catchers in sprint speed (26.1 feet per second) according to Baseball Savant — took off for home plate at the moment the ball landed in Martinez’s glove.
Wasting no time as his momentum carried him, Martinez gathered himself, cocked back, and unleashed a dart towards an awaiting Christian Vazquez at home plate that arrived in plenty of time for the backstop to snuff out Murphy and complete the inning-ending 7-2 double play.
Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Martinez had a 40% chance of catching Andrus’ waist-high line drive, making it a four-star play based off catch probability.
In nabbing Murphy at home plate, the 33-year-old recorded his third outfield assist of the season already. He notched a total of seven in his first three seasons with the Red Sox from 2018-2020.
While Martinez, who has primarily served as Boston’s designated hitter, is by no means on a Gold Glove sort of run, he has had quite a productive year in the outfield for his standards, particularly on the left side.
In addition to his three assists, Martinez has accrued one Defensive Run Saved over 132 1/3 innings as a left fielder while putting up an Ultimate Zone Rating of 2.0, which translates to an Ultimate Zone Rating of 29.1 over 150 defensive games, per FanGraphs.
Among American League left fielders who have played at least 130 innings at the position so far this season, Martinez ranks 11th in Defensive Runs Saved, third in Ultimate Zone Rating, and first in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora had said this spring that he believed Martinez would benefit from seeing more playing time in left field this season, and that school of thought has certainly paid off for both sides up to this point in the year.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)