Red Sox's J.D. Martinez on 2020 Struggles: 'Tired of Being Judged on 2 Months'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Boston Red Sox's J.D. Martinez reacts after striking out during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Boston Red Sox star J.D. Martinez is ready to return to the diamond and move on from a 2020 season that fell well short of expectations.

Martinez explained to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that he was particularly frustrated since criticism toward his contributions was based on a 54-game sample.

"Obviously I'm excited," the three-time All-Star said about the year ahead. "I just want (expletive) to go back to normal, honestly. I just want it to be a normal season. I'm kind of tired of being judged on two months."

Martinez went on to say that doing his usual work outside of games was tricky amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which then impacted his performance:

"I'm just finding out the source of where everything ... I created bad habits, I'm not going to lie. Last year, me not being able to look. Me not being able to break down my swing throughout the year I created some really bad habits and the whole thing is trying to break them now. It's different in the cage when you're getting a flip or BP or when you're getting 98 (mph) at you. It's hard to think about mechanics when you're having a 95-96 mph ball come at you."

The 33-year-old was a disaster at the plate. His slugging percentage fell from .557 in 2019 to .389, while he finished with more strikeouts (59) than hits (45). Among 142 qualified hitters, he finished 129th in weighted on-base average (.290), per FanGraphs.

In general, it's somewhat foolish to make any concrete judgments—positive or negative—about a player while relying on last year's production considering a bad week or two could have an outsized impact on the final numbers. And that's to say nothing of how the pandemic altered preseason preparations.

Experienced veterans on the wrong side of 30 such as Martinez might have been impacted the most since they likely have had established plans for how they get ready for Opening Day. Spring training 2.0 didn't represent a like-for-like substitute.

Luckily for Martinez, he doesn't have to wait much longer to silence his skeptics. The Red Sox get their regular season underway April 1 at home against the Baltimore Orioles.