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Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Sunday Baseball Column: How we should view J.D. Martinez | WEEI

He’s a really great DH but he’s still a DH. I’m fine with them bringing him back for what’s on his current contract. I wouldn’t like to see them make a higher salary/longer commitment to him.

Get the picture? Call Martinez anything you want, but don’t you suggest to Boras he is a designated hitter. Because if you did classify the righty hitter as just a DH than that would make the idea of the $62.5 million committed to the 32-year-old by the Red Sox a fairly reasonable rate.

But Boras believes teams should view Martinez as something more. Now comes the interesting part: Can he make the rest of baseball commit to the same vision?

Jim Furtado Posted: October 06, 2019 at 10:25 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: j.d. martinez, red sox

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 06, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5887019)
But Boras believes teams should view Martinez as something more. Now comes the interesting part: Can he make the rest of baseball commit to the same vision?

Well, If Martinez learns to play 1B, maybe he can.
   2. The Duke Posted: October 06, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5887021)
If the Red Sox really want to dump JD, they should tell Martinez they won’t QO him. If they do that, he will definitely leave and everyone gets what they want . Red Sox keep Mookie, JD gets another bite at the apple, and a second team will get a really good DH
   3. L. M. Gumby Posted: October 06, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5887046)
Anybody who watched JD play those games in the outfield knows why he's viewed as a DH. To describe him as uncoordinated is generous. He doesn't move like a statue, he moves like the 40 ton piece of granite you put a statue on. I honestly doubt he could ever learn to play 1st adequately.

So, can JD and Boras (legally) field offers and get handshakes before he opts out? Or is that tampering somehow?
   4. Darren Posted: October 06, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5887063)
DHs get dinged pretty hard for being DHs, even though it's pretty clear that it's harder to hit well as a DH. Szymborski recently mentioned that plans to write soon about the idea that DHs should be valued similarly to 1B, with the no fielding penalty being cancelled out by the difficulty of DHing. I always thought that would be about fair and I'm looking forward to reading what he's got to say.

Eyeballing it, Martinez looks like he'll project to be worth 3.5-4 WAR next year (including the no fielding penalty). He might be worth something like 4-$80MM, but it does seem hard to find many suitors.

   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 06, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5887065)
Martinez is a DH who could be used as an emergency outfielder for a game or two without too much embarrassment. That doesn’t seem like enough to tempt a NL team to offer him a multi-year 20M+ contract covering years in which his defensive ability is likely to decline. I go back & forth over whether Martinez should opt out. Seems like a close call, but with the baggage of a Qualifying Offer and the limited AL teams willing to pay big bucks for a DH, maybe he shouldn't - unless Boras knows something we don’t.
   6. Srul Itza Posted: October 07, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5887394)
When anybody and his sister can hit the ball out of the park, and runs are coming in droves, and nobody cares if you strike out, does the value of a one-dimensional hitter go down?
   7. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: October 07, 2019 at 03:30 PM (#5887451)
To me, the difference between the '17 Red Sox and the '18 Red Sox was JD Martinez and pitching. The difference between the '18 Red Sox and the '19 Red Sox was SP.

That said, if JD is smart he'll not opt out. His value decreases if he has to/demands to play anywhere in the field.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 04:03 PM (#5887473)
Szymborski recently mentioned that plans to write soon about the idea that DHs should be valued similarly to 1B, with the no fielding penalty being cancelled out by the difficulty of DHing.

I still think the likely cause of the difficultly of hitting while a DH, is that guys DH when they have injuries not severe enough to DL them. There's no real reason why playing the field should make it easier to hit.
   9. Obo Posted: October 07, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5887474)
He doesn't move like a statue, he moves like the 40 ton piece of granite you put a statue on.

"He doesn't move like a statue, he moves like a plinth."
   10. L. M. Gumby Posted: October 07, 2019 at 05:05 PM (#5887524)
like a plinth


Well that is better. Although, doesn't saying the word plinth seem off, er, onomatopoetically? Planth sounds better to my ear. Or plund. A nice woody sound. Caribou. Caribooooouuuu.
   11. L. M. Gumby Posted: October 07, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5887543)
But seriously, does anyone know more about the opt out clauses? How blind are players supposed to be about their market? Is it a gamble or would we expect JD to able to just ask teams whether they're going to be willing to make it worth his while?
   12. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 05:49 PM (#5887550)
I still think the likely cause of the difficultly of hitting while a DH, is that guys DH when they have injuries not severe enough to DL them. There's no real reason why playing the field should make it easier to hit.

I believe this has been studied to control for injuries and they came to the opposite conclusion. Can't find the article right now.
   13. RJ in TO Posted: October 07, 2019 at 06:22 PM (#5887564)
Eyeballing it, Martinez looks like he'll project to be worth 3.5-4 WAR next year (including the no fielding penalty). He might be worth something like 4-$80MM, but it does seem hard to find many suitors.


Assuming teams rightly treat him as a DH, who would consider signing him to a deal like that? Toronto, Tampa, Oakland, Baltimore, KC, Seattle, and Detroit are all heading toward rebuilds and aren't interested in spending any real money. If Boston wanted to spend that much for him, they'd just keep him on his current deal. The Yankees aren't paying that sort of their money for a DH, given the number of high power players they already have under contract who could share the position. The Twins have Cruz on an option for next year. The Angels have Pujols under contract for two more years. Texas has Choo signed for another year. Houston already has more bats than lineup spots.

So Cleveland, or the White Sox. Does anyone think either of those teams will be bringing out the chequebook for Martinez?

In other words, he might not be very happy with the offers if he opts out.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 06:59 PM (#5887600)

I believe this has been studied to control for injuries and they came to the opposite conclusion. Can't find the article right now.


This seems impossible. The injuries I'm talking about aren't likely to be reported publicly. If Aaron Judge tweaks a leg muscle a bit, and he's DH-ed 2 games out of 3, where's the record of that? Or a guy has a minor virus, and DHs to take it easy on him.
   15. John DiFool2 Posted: October 07, 2019 at 08:49 PM (#5887664)
Plus that should give the edge to the healthy DH's, shouldn't it? You can't run a study like that, demonstrate that part of the difference is from injuries, then put a blanket adjustment on every DH out there, assuming that they all are injured while in the role.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 08:54 PM (#5887667)
Plus that should give the edge to the healthy DH's, shouldn't it? You can't run a study like that, demonstrate that part of the difference is from injuries, then put a blanket adjustment on every DH out there, assuming that they all are injured while in the role.

The healthy DH's should hit better. The overall average would be depressed by the hurt guys, but the FT Dh's should suffer no penalty.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: October 07, 2019 at 09:10 PM (#5887682)
The fundamental issue with most DH analysis is not differentiating between part-time/casual DHs and full-time DHs. The second fundamental issue in analyses of full-time DHs that also probably plays a role in casual use (as suggested by Snapper) is that a player being moved to DH is not the cause of diminished hitting talent but rather the response to diminished talent. There are many things we can't know plus things we probably could know but don't build into projections -- these are things teams probably at least have an inkling of. In short, a full-time move to DH is often a last-chance move, hoping for a rebound that usually doesn't come. A short-term move to DH may be the same, hoping that slugger X at 80% is still better than bench OF ... only to find out either that's not true or slugger X is probably at 70%.

The main argument against a short-term DH penalty in WAR (i.e. docking them 5 runs relative to 1B) is that we do know that PHs perform really badly -- so badly that it's clearly an effect (whether we understand the mechanism or not). It makes common sense that DH'ing on your "day off" would be somewhat similar to PH'ing. Presumably nowhere near as severe since you are "into" the game from the start and/or maybe the PH effect is in play for the first PA but reduces as the game goes on. This might suggest that if you DH for a solid week or you DH 50 times a year or something, we'd see no reduction in hitting performance after the first few games.

But even if a casual/short-term DH penalty (relative to 1B) doesn't make sense, that doesn't apply to JDM. I'm currently trying to prep a fully thorough look at this but just with regard to JDM (just a sample of one, nobody's claiming truth here):

3 years prior to heavy DH'ing: 149 OPS+
2018 ZiPS: 144 OPS+
2018 OPS+: 173
2019 OPS+: 140

His hitting clearly didn't miss a beat.

In this particular case, I can see an argument that, given JDM still played 57 and 37 games in the field that the extra penalty maybe shouldn't apply to him. The main justification for it (as I've always understood it) is that needing a roster spot for a DH limits a team's defensive flexibility which has follow-on effects that has sort of been guesstimated at 5 runs. If JDM can play the field adequately then he's not limiting the roster flexibility ... or at least no more than, say, Nick Castellanos is.

But basically, hitters hit and they don't really care where you put them. It may take them a few weeks to adjust to not being in the field anymore but the bat will come around. We are always disappointed but not surprised when some good hitting player collapses at age 33-34 and we don't make a case that it's just "harder to hit" at 33 so we should hand back runs on WAR ... or only base their Rbat on comps with other players aged 31-35. If a guy shifts to DH at 33 that's probably a sign he's closer to decline than the projections suggest not a cause of the subsequent underperformance. This only becomes more true for guys moved at 35, 36, etc.
   18. Hank Gillette Posted: October 07, 2019 at 11:29 PM (#5887752)
The Angels have Pujols under contract for two more years.


That seems like an easy way to upgrade the Angels by 3-4 games. The money they are paying Pujols is a sunk cost. Signing Martinez would be a much better gamble than signing Josh Hamilton.
   19. DJS Thinks Apples and Oranges are Similar Posted: October 08, 2019 at 02:03 AM (#5887807)
But seriously, does anyone know more about the opt out clauses? How blind are players supposed to be about their market? Is it a gamble or would we expect JD to able to just ask teams whether they're going to be willing to make it worth his while?

Until he opts out, Martinez is an employee of the Red Sox and the rules will apply. Now, his agent ought to have a good feel for the market and be able to make educated guesses, but given Boras's reading of the market in the last few years, I wouldn't take that for granted.
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 08, 2019 at 02:15 AM (#5887808)
That seems like an easy way to upgrade the Angels by 3-4 games. The money they are paying Pujols is a sunk cost. Signing Martinez would be a much better gamble than signing Josh Hamilton.
The Angels have Ohtani as a DH option, when healthy. Not seeing much room for Martinez.
   21. Bug Selig Posted: October 08, 2019 at 07:15 AM (#5887813)
There's no real reason why playing the field should make it easier to hit.
If you're talking about an established DH, sure. If a guy is used to being a baseball player and then gets a job once or twice a week where he sits around all day and pinch hits 4 times, that's a little out of his routine. We're in a world where Nicky Castellanos complains that he only gets a couple years to become high-school-competent at a position before the world gives up on his ability to play it - and 9th-inning pitchers can't pitch in the 8th inning or with too big a lead or with no lead. Routine is apparently the most valuable thing in the universe by several orders of magnitude.

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