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Don't look now, but J.D. Martinez closing in on Triple Crown after taking batting lead from Mookie Betts

John Tomase
August 26, 2018 - 9:23 am

Triple Crown anyone?

Lost in the malaise of a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Saturday night -- the fifth in seven games for the Red Sox -- was J.D. Martinez's 2-for-4 performance. Combined with an 0-for-4 from teammate Mookie Betts, Martinez leapfrogged his fellow MVP candidate to claim the American League batting lead, .337 to .335. Both remain just a hair ahead of two-time defending batting champ Jose Altuve of the Astros, who went 2-for-3 on Saturday to raise his own average to .331.

Anyway, with Martinez leading the hitting race, he now finds himself just a home run shy of leading all three Triple Crown categories. His 38 homers trail Oakland's Khris Davis, who has blasted 39, and rank one ahead of Indians superstar Jose Ramirez. His 110 RBIs lead all of baseball.

Martinez's former Tigers teammate, Miguel Cabrera, was baseball's last Triple Crown winner, in 2012. That ended a 45-year drought dating back to Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Should Martinez win the Triple Crown, it will ignite a debate around the MVP award, with some voters choosing to honor that achievement, others remaining steadfast that Betts' defensive and baserunning contributions make the WAR leader (8.4 for Betts, 5.9 for Martinez) a better all-around player, and others doing what they always do and just voting for Mike Trout.