When the last offseason began for the Boston Red Sox, the need for a slugger was apparent. There were really only two names on their radar, as J.D. Martinez was set to be a free agent and Giancarlo Stanton was made available by the Derek Jeter-led Miami Marlins.
Ultimately, the Yankees won the Stanton sweepstakes, taking on the remainder of his massive $325 million contract. Stanton has an opt-out option after 2020, but there would still be $218 million remaining on the deal that could keep him in pinstripes through 2028. Yes, Stanton is a great power hitter, but that’s quite the price to pay.
The Red Sox moved on and began the search for their middle of the order hitter, and zeroed in on Martinez. The team had to wait a while before J.D. agreed to a deal, but it did eventually come in February. The Red Sox inked Martinez for $110 million over five seasons, with most of the money front loaded and a number of options for the player.
In 2018, Stanton is raking in $25 million, while Martinez has a $23.75 million paycheck. At a slightly lower price point, the Red Sox slugger is beating the Yankees player in every way possible from the plate
This season, J.D. Martinez has a .349 batting average in 32 games. That ranks 3rd in the MLB behind only Mookie Betts and Andrelton Simmons of the Braves. His 1.015 OPS also places him in the top 10.
So far, Stanton isn’t achieving the same statistics. He has just a .227 average and a .768 OPS. Neither mark has him in baseball’s top 80. The Yankees slugger has never been a player that hit’s for a great average, hitting .281 last season as the National League MVP, but the OPS is surprising. In 2017 he finished at 1.007. Perhaps that was an anomoly though, as he never registered an OPS higher than .969 in his 7 previous seasons. Martinez actually finished with a higher OPS last season as well, and he seems to be on a path to continue that trend in 2018.
That average and OPS has helped J.D. Martinez edge out Stanton in RBI as well. With 8 home runs J.D. has driven in 27 runs, while Giancarlo has just 19 to go along with 7 long balls.
The biggest difference between the two players though, is how much Stanton strikes out. He leads the majors with 53 strikeouts so far. Martinez is Boston’s leader in strikeouts, but he has just 38. In the American League, the pitchers may be just a little too much for Stanton.
The eye test
When J.D. Martinez comes up to bat, fans have the belief that he will hit a home run, get a hit, take a walk, or maybe strike out because everyone does so. For Stanton, there seems to be just two options, home run or strike out. Sure, the Yankees will love it if Stanton is able to crush 50 long balls each season, but he strikes out in some critical situations. He’ll also go an entire game with nothing but Ks. Stanton has already had 17 games without a hit in which he’s had at least one plate appearance. In two of those games (0-7 and 0-5) he had 5 strike outs. That’s the kind of night a slugger can’t have, and he’s lucky others like Didi Gregorius have picked him up.
Martinez has just 9 games without a hit, and his worst game in terms of strikeouts has come with 3. He’s done that three times s far in 2018. For what it’s worth, Stanton has an additional four 3 strikeout games.
So, even at their worst, Martinez has proven to be the better player this season. He continues that trend when you look at their best games as well. In terms of RBI, which ultimately helps your team win games, Martinez is the much better player.
In Stanton’s top 10 RBI games, he has his 19 RBI. That’s tough to say though, because all 19 of his RBI’s in 2018 have come in just 8 games. His great games are amazing, but they’ve been so rare. Martinez has been much more consistent, with 21 RBI in his top 10 games. He has an RBI in another 6 games as well. So, really he has at least one RBI in 50% of the Red Sox games. Stanton has one in just 23.5% of the Yankees matchups.
Of course, things can change quickly as the two clubs will meet for their second series of the year beginning on Tuesday. Giancarlo Stanton can play much better than he has so far in 2018, but it seems like Martinez can as well. As the weather warms up at Fenway Park, he should add to his home run total, and he could look like a steal when compared to Stanton at the end of the year.