Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest Comebacks: J.D. Martinez gets cut by Astros, comes back to become one of baseball's best hitters

Krystle Boyajian
August 13, 2018 - 3:06 pm

In March of 2014, the Houston Astros cut J.D. Martinez. Little did they know Martinez would turn his career around and come back as one of the best hitters in baseball.

During Martinez’ three seasons with the Astros, his offensive numbers were lackluster, as he registered a .251 average, 24 home runs, 126 RBIs and a .687 OPS in 252 games. Cutting the then-26-year-old was understandable. 

However, in the winter of 2013-14, Martinez had spent time in California and Venezuela working to perfect his swing. The improved swing first paid dividends in winter ball in Venezuela, where he hit .312 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in 24 games.

Despite the early signs of improvement, the Astros released Martinez during spring training. Their loss turned out to be the Tigers’ gain, as Detroit signed him a few days after Houston cut him.

Martinez immediately got a chance to stick it to his former team, as he hit three home runs in a spring training game against them. Martinez started the season with Triple-A Toledo, but quickly proved he was ready for another shot in the bigs after hitting 10 home runs in 17 games.

Martinez went on to hit .315 with 23 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .912 OPS in 123 games with Detroit during the 2014 season, all of which were far and away career highs. Martinez had two and a half more strong seasons with the Tigers before getting traded to the Diamondbacks midway through the 2017 season.

Martinez finished the 2017 season in Arizona with the best stretch of his career to that point, belting 29 home runs in 62 games to finish the season with a career-high 45.

That brings us to 2018 and his signing with the Red Sox, and we all know how that’s going. So far, Martinez is hitting .333 with a 1.070 OPS and a league-best 37 home runs and 104 RBIs. Red Sox manager Alex Cora recently called him “the best hitter in baseball.” It’s hard to argue, and it’s crazy to think that just four years ago he got cut and needed a big comeback just to play in the majors.

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