It may not be time to officially call the race between JD Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton, but the sands are certainly slipping through the hourglass.
As brand-new sluggers for the Red Sox and Yankees, Martinez and Stanton were each placed under a microscope this season. And they have a lot in common. Both were acquired to give their teams more bat power after the retirements of franchise legends. Both have faced adversity in their careers; JD was once let go from the Astros – a move GM Jeff Luhnow says he’ll always regret – while Stanton has dealt with numerous injuries, including a season-ending pitch to the face a few years back. And of course, both are incredibly talented ballplayers hit the spheroid out of the park on a pretty regular basis.
Unsurprisingly, fans of the biggest rivalry in baseball have been comparing them since before their contracts were signed. At first, and during the off-season especially, it seemed like the Yankees scored the big prize – though they also had to spend a lot more to get him. Stanton led the league with 59 homers last season. Martinez *only* hit 45. By comparison, Mookie Betts led the 2017 Red Sox with a mere 24 home runs.
Martinez is older, too. But with his age comes wisdom and a voracious appetite for learning and continuous improvement. He’s constantly studying his own swing, as well as hundreds of hours of footage of pitchers and hitters. Like David Ortiz, he’s not content to rest on his laurels.
But with JD Martinez hitting his 34th homer of the season last night, it’s now almost certainly clear which team wins the power-bat race. With the exception of exit velocity, JD is miles ahead of Stanton in every stat, including homers and RBIs, the two categories in which he’s first place in all of MLB. Speaking of stats, the Yankees are now 9 games back in the division, and the Red Sox just swept them.
For a lot less money, and a shorter contract, the Red Sox got the better player. It hasn’t even been a full season, and fans are begging the Red Sox to further secure Martinez’s future with the team. The Yankees will be locked in with Stanton for a while, whether they like it or not. After this season, he still has $295 million remaining on a 10-year contract.
Don’t get me wrong: Stanton is a great ballplayer. But JD is extraordinary. He’s emerged not only as the superstar we’ve been dreaming of since David Ortiz retired, but also as a team leader and mentor to players like Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr., who he’s helped learn to hit better. It’s not often that I get to celebrate an expensive Red Sox signing, but in this case, our newest star is a dream come true.