Why has J.D. Martinez slumped? Alex Cora has a theory

Rob Bradford
July 18, 2019 - 1:46 pm

J.D. Martinez's numbers heading into Thursday were good. We're talking .289 with a .889 OPS and 19 home runs. But ...

Since the designated hitter/outfielder returned from the All-Star break he has run into a bit of a downturn, managing three hits in 26 at-bats. It's been enough of a slump to raise at least a couple questions regarding the cause for the recent struggles.

One thing Red Sox manager Alex Cora insisted we can rule out when searching for answers is a problem with Martinez's sometimes-balky back.

"Nah, nah. He’s OK," said Cora when asked about the potential ailment. "Just, I mean, two days ago he hit the ball hard, yesterday he was kind of like battling his swing. He got some pitches to hit. I do feel he’s expanding the zone a little bit more. He gets into a hitter’s count, he’s been expanding. It’s something we’ve been talking about it. Yesterday was a 3-1 count, it was a pitch in. At the end, if you stay within the zone, you’ll be fine. If you’re expanding, you might get some hits, you might get some pitches, but they’re going to be inconsistent. I think that’s been the case. We’re talking about a guy who’s still dominating the game offensively, but as far as plate discipline this year, he’s been swinging at more pitches out of the zone."

In the week leading up to the All-Star break, Martinez was swinging the bat as well as he had all season, going 14-for-30 over a seven-game span.

So, why the different approach now? According to Cora, this isn't about the pitchers' approach, either.

"I don’t think so," the manager noted when asked about a possible adjustment by opponents. "Just, probably, he’s swinging at those pitches. Last year he was more disciplined."