The greatest Red Sox slugging duo since Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz plied their wares together from 2003 to 2008 was honored before Thursday night’s game.
J.D. Martinez was presented with his pair of Silver Slugger awards, while Mookie Betts got his own, along with his Gold Glove and MVP Award. (Jackie Bradley was also awarded his Gold Glove at the ceremony behind home plate.)
In Year One of being teammates, both Betts and Martinez had career years, with Betts leading the majors in slugging (.640), batting average (.346) and bWAR (10.9). Martinez led the majors in RBI (135) and total bases (358), while slugging 43 homers.
We’ll never know for sure, but there’s a high degree of likelihood that Betts in particular would have had a hard time reaching the heights he did without Martinez in the lineup. And vice versa, especially in the RBI department for Martinez.
Bottom line, the presence of the other was mutually beneficial.
“The preparation, the communication, it’s fun to see, it’s constant, it’s every day – and they click, both of them, they benefit from each other,” said manager Alex Cora. “Obviously J.D. doesn’t drive in all those runs without Mookie on base. And Mookie, maybe he has an MVP season without J.D., but I know as far as communication and preparation, he really helped him out. He’s still helping him out. They complement each other like other duos that have been great in this organization, feed each other and learn from each other. The cool thing is they go out there and perform. You can talk all you want in the clubhouse and prepare all you want, and all of a sudden you get a fastball down the middle and you ground out to short.”
That did not happen too much with either Betts or Martinez.
Martinez is a student of hitting to an almost obsessive degree. Once he and Betts were exposed to each other in the video room and in the bating cages, a natural partnership was forged.
“Those two clicked right away,” said Cora. “It’s funny, because when J.D. got there, Mookie had other ideas as far as swings and all that. Then J.D. gets there, and in a matter of weeks, he starts believing in what J.D. was preaching, very similar to what (hitting coaches) Tim (Hyers) and Andy (Barkett) preach. He got it right away.”
Asked if the two made him think about Ramirez and Ortiz, Cora did not seem to agree. At least completely.
“No, because I think Mookie is different as far as the athlete and what he can do,” said Cora. “But as far as be consistent over 162 games, pretty close. Pretty close. I don’t remember a stretch last year when both of them were off, they were both in slumps or whatever. Even their outs were quality at-bats, all throughout the year.”
Martinez became the first Silver Slugger winner to win two in one year. He played 93 games as DH, and 57 in the outfield.