A costly, full-time 35-year-old hitter is unlikely to be a priority for baseball chief Haim Blum, an executive who values defensive versatility.
“I would like to continue playing for at least another two years,” Martinez said. “I hope to be in a position that I know I can be successful in. A team that wins and they get the best of me.”
It’s been a strange season for Martinez. When the Sox entered the field on Sunday, they finished fourth in the MLS with 40 doubles.
But Martinez has only had 12 home runs, his lowest in a full season since he played part-time with the Astros in 2013, and a 0.766 walker OPS.
Certainly some of that is a product of his age, though Sox somewhat made up for that by keeping him on set hitting all season.
Martinez believes baseball’s make-up was a factor in its decline. The league averaged .396 as of Saturday. It was the .411 last season.
Martinez, who has built an impressive career on opposite field strength, averaged 18 times on the right side of the dead center from 2017-21 (excluding the short 2020 season). This season has three.
Based on information from BaseballSavant.comright-handed hitters have 388 fewer home runs to the opposite field this season than in 2019.
The common belief among many players is that Major League Baseball stopped the ball to reduce home runs and create more action on the field with doubles and triples.
“It hurts,” Martinez said. “You hit a ball and expect it to come out and when you don’t think something is wrong. You can’t measure it.
“So you’re working on your swing and adjusting it and you probably don’t even need to do that. That affected me mentally. Now you have guys trying to pull the ball more.”
Martinez pulled a fastball off Nestor Cortes in the first half on Sunday. With an exit speed of 99.4 mph, the ball traveled 388 feet – and was caught at the base of the wall.
Sox manager Alex Cora noted that the “expected” stats that reflect bat speed and other factors are better than Martinez’s actual stats.
“He was hitting the ball really hard and then he struggled a little bit,” Cora said. “But you start to look at the projected numbers – and people take that into account – he keeps working on it. I can see him looking up until the last day of the season to try and find something.”
There are other factors as well. There was widespread expectation that Martinez would be dealt before the August 2 trading deadline.
Instead, Sox tried a combination of moves that ultimately made the team worse. Martinez, who would have welcomed his move to a rival, is 0.29 since the deadline.
“It was just a strange year,” he said.
If it was for Martinez, does he feel he left a good legacy in Boston?
He said, “I don’t know.” “you tell me.”
This is easy. Martinez was a four-time All-Star and has a 1,005 OPS in 23 games after the season, never spent a day on the injured list, and until this season he has been one of the best running producers in the game. Dave Dombrowski made a wise move when he signed Martinez ahead of season 18.
“I’m proud of the qualifying numbers,” Martinez said. “I tried to help my teammates and set a good example.
“It’s a different game now with the young guys. I love baseball. I love being in the park and when I come home, I think about baseball. That’s me. That’s what I do. I’ll be like that wherever I am.”
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.