Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

So far, J.D. Martinez has been superior to Giancarlo Stanton

Alex Reimer
May 18, 2018 - 10:34 am

Good things happen to those who wait. The Red Sox didn’t sign J.D. Martinez until late February, nearly two and a half months after the Yankees had acquired Giancarlo Stanton. So far, the Red Sox got the better slugger for potentially $133 million less. 

Martinez blasted another home run Thursday in the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Orioles. He’s hit 13 home runs this season and five within the last seven days. Overall, Martinez leads the league with 56 hits and is slashing .344/.394/.656. It’s not an exaggeration to say he’s been the best hitter in the American League to date.

Stanton, meanwhile, has 10 home runs with a batting line of .255/.344/.516. He’s also struck out 55 times, compared to Martinez’s 47 whiffs. 

This isn’t meant to denigrate Stanton or cast aspersions on his hitting prowess. He’s a beast at the plate and will likely fuel the Yankees’ seeming inevitable postseason run. But the Red Sox won out here. Over the last calendar year, Martinez and Stanton have amassed 96 and 94 extra-base hits, respectively. Their numbers are virtually identical, and the Red Sox took on much less risk. They also didn’t surrender any prospects to sign Martinez, which is a huge bonus, given their depleted farm system.

It’s possible Stanton opts out of his contract in 2020, taking the Yankees off the hook for the final $218 million of his deal. Stanton is owed $77 million through the next three seasons, and that is fair market value for a preeminent slugger. But Martinez is only slated to make $50 million before his first opt-out in two years, and $71.25 million after year three, when he can opt-out as well. 

Once again, the Red Sox have the (slightly) better deal. 

After finishing last in the league with 168 home runs last year, the Red Sox are on pace to clock 225 long balls in 2018. There are other reasons for their power surge –– Xander Bogaerts coming into his own, Mookie Betts’ awesomeness –– but Martinez is the biggest difference between this year’s club and last season’s version. 

It's rare that a big money free agent signing works out this well.