By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
To win a World Series, it takes the contributions of a full 25-man roster.
The 2018 Red Sox were the perfect embodiment of that, perhaps more so than any other team in franchise history other than the 2004 Red Sox.
In many ways, the role players carried the Sox in October more than the stars. Brock Holt hit for a cycle in New York, Christian Vazquez had the biggest hit of the Yankees series, Jackie Bradley Jr. surprised the world and won ALCS MVP, and nobody could have predicted that Nathan Eovaldi would become a postseason hero.
But no player changed the Red Sox in 2018 more than J.D. Martinez, and that makes him the obvious choice for our Red Sox Player of the Year award.
When the Red Sox signed Martinez in February, they hoped they were getting a middle of the order bat. Martinez was everything they could have hoped for and more. He was a legitimate Triple Crown candidate.
No hitter in franchise history has hit more home runs (43) than Martinez did in his first year in Boston. He was consistently excellent in the clutch and with runners on bases, leading the majors in RBI (130).
Martinez is already the most successful big-money free agent the Red Sox have signed since Manny Ramirez. There isn’t even a close second.
Martinez was credited by coaches and teammates alike for making the hitters around him better. Not only did Martinez’s presence loom large in the lineup, it loomed large in the clubhouse, where he is said to have helped younger players with their swings, their approach, and their work ethic.
Mookie Betts may have been the MVP of the league, but J.D. Martinez was the MVP of the Red Sox.
His impact was undeniable.
Martinez’s career in Boston may be short lived. He signed a five-year, $110 million contract in February, but can opt-out after the 2019 season. If he comes anywhere near his 2018 production next year, there is little doubt he will test the market again.
But no matter what happens in 2019 and beyond, his 2018 season won’t soon be forgotten.