Earlier today we gave Victor Martinez his season grade (hint–it was very good), so it’s natural we next give a grade to the man who followed him in the lineup so often, hit back-to-back homers on multiple occasions, and became part of the duo better known as the Super Martinez Brothers.
J.D. Martinez had a season he probably never dreamed of when he reported to the Houston Astros’ Spring Training facility in Kissimmee, Florida. Martinez had worn out his welcome in Houston and had been part of a bit of friction with former Astros’ manager Bo Porter. J.D. Mart was often in the doghouse for his insistence on occasionally swinging on the first pitch, a Houston organizational no-no.
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After hitting just .167 in Grapefruit League action, the Astros decided it was time to move on from the J.D. Martinez-era, saying the young player was a victim of organizational depth.
Houston’s loss is Detroit’s gain. It didn’t take Dave Dombrowski long to sign the 26-year old Miami native, inking a deal with the Tigers two days after his release from the Astros. Perhaps DD saw the potential in J.D. Mart, but more than likely he signed him because of a need for outfield depth with the Spring Training injury of Andy Dirks.
No one saw the type of season Martinez would put up. He tore up the International League during his stint with the Toledo Mud Hens, hitting 10 homers and notching 22 RBIs in just 17 games. The Tigers took notice and brought him up on April 21.
It was a struggle, both offensively and defensively, for J.D. in Detroit at first. Nearly a month after his call-up, he was seeing very limited action and was hitting .200 with no home runs. That changed on May 19 in Cleveland when Martinez hit the first of 23 homers on the season. That seemed to be the catalyst he needed to get going.
His average steadily ballooned over the next month and sat at .346 at the All-Star Break. Martinez had many clutch homers on the season, none bigger than when he hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning in Cleveland on Sept. 2 to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 thrilling victory. He also had a similar homer in Minnesota late in the season that gave Detroit a late lead that Joe Nathan would give away.
J.D. finished the regular season with a .315 average, 23 homers, 76 RBIs and .912 OPS. While most of the lineup struggled in the brief three-game ALDS wipeout at the hands of Baltimore, Martinez thrived. He notched a double, two homers and five RBIs.
J.D. Martinez is under team control for the next four seasons.