The Boston Red Sox were on top of the baseball world in 2018 after 108 wins during the regular season and a World Series championship. They have been on a steep decline ever since, dropping to 84 wins in 2019 and 16 games out in last place in 2020. In fact, their .400 winning percentage last season was the lowest since the 1932 team won only 43 and lost 111.
After the third worst pitching in baseball last season with a team ERA of 5.58, the Red Sox have clear holes to address in both the rotation and bullpen. However, Major League Baseball has definitely become a hitters’ league and an improvement upon a middle of the road offense is also necessary. This can happen for the Red Sox without looking outside the organization.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora is looking for J.D. Martinez to be the big man again in the middle of the order. He clearly struggled last year with a .213 average and only seven home runs and 23 RBI. His batting average was the worst of his career and his .680 OPS was lowest since 2013.
One might argue that he could have gotten hot and increased those numbers should a full season have been played. One can argue against that when looking at J.D. Martinez in 2017, when he hit 16 home runs in 57 games for the Tigers and 29 home runs in 62 games for the Diamondbacks. After watching much video of Martinez, Cora could see what was wrong with Martinez, but he was unable to make the necessary adjustments during the game.
Cora is confident that J.D. Martinez will be much closer to the Martinez of old than what was shown last season. After all, Martinez is still only 32 years old and hit 79 home runs in 2018-2019 combined and six consecutive .300-plus seasons before last year’s collapse.
Expect the big bat of Martinez next season and a return of Andrew Benintendi from injury. Combine that with the potent bats of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers and am improved pitching staff to put the Red Sox back into contention.