J.D. Martinez has -0.9 fWAR in 185 PA

A Bad Man

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J.D. "Just Degenerating" Martinez is on pace for a nearly -4 fWAR season. This is 2018 Chris Davis level bad.

In 128 PA vs. righties, JD has a wRC+ of 50.

Most of J.D.'s advanced metrics remain the same: Contact%, SwStr%, launch angle, etc.

The glaring issues are exit velocity and HardHit%:

Exit velocity:
  • 2017: 90.9
  • 2018: 93.0
  • 2019: 91.4
  • 2020: 88.7
HardHit%
  • 2017: 49.0%
  • 2018: 52.3%
  • 2019: 48.1%
  • 2020: 39.2%
JD is due $19,350,000 in 2021 and 2022.
 

Rwillh11

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Apr 23, 2010
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J.D. "Just Degenerating" Martinez is on pace for a nearly -4 fWAR season. This is 2018 Chris Davis level bad.

In 128 PA vs. righties, JD has a wRC+ of 50.

Most of J.D.'s advanced metrics remain the same: Contact%, SwStr%, launch angle, etc.

The glaring issues are exit velocity and HardHit%:

Exit velocity:
  • 2017: 90.9
  • 2018: 93.0
  • 2019: 91.4
  • 2020: 88.7
HardHit%
  • 2017: 49.0%
  • 2018: 52.3%
  • 2019: 48.1%
  • 2020: 39.2%
JD is due $19,350,000 in 2021 and 2022.
I was curious how long it takes EV to stabilize, and in general how repeatable of a skill it seems to be. Found these articles, which are pretty concerning from the standpoint of thinking about JD going forward. Of course, he could be playing through something (but why would he, its a lost season and it's hard to believe he's opting out), but a drop this big suggests something isn't right and he's had enough plate appearances for the stats to mean something.

Fangraphs
Baseball Prospectus

Here is the key graph from the Fangraphs piece, which shows a lot of within season stability for exit velocity. Of course, there are outliers and it still could be noise. But I think we've seen enough that it makes sense to be a bit concerned.
34237
 

DJnVa

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I was curious how long it takes EV to stabilize, and in general how repeatable of a skill it seems to be. Found these articles, which are pretty concerning from the standpoint of thinking about JD going forward. Of course, he could be playing through something (but why would he, its a lost season and it's hard to believe he's opting out), but a drop this big suggests something isn't right and he's had enough plate appearances for the stats to mean something.
Isn't the lack of in-game video review pretty clearly weight on him?
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I have some hope that so much of his game is mental preparation and discipline that some of this is just attributable to the weirdness of the year.

The team has been out of it since the jump. It's obviously the weirdest year ever in terms of player rhythm and stuff and the truth is that even if he completely sucks this year he knows he has $40 million left on his contract and two years to audition for the next contract. Maybe it's regression, but I have hope that in a full year when there are actual stakes both for the team and for JDM that it will be different.
 

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Isn't the lack of in-game video review pretty clearly weight on him?
Honestly, I think as much psychologically as anything. Baseball players are such creatures of habit, and this certainly is messing with his mind big time. How much of his suckitude is attributable to this, we'll never know. But I don't think it is insignificant.
 

DJnVa

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I have no idea how to isolate this, but if this were true, wouldn't he have historically suffered if there was a pitching change at any point during an inning before he came to bat?


He doesn't use it to scout opposing pitchers. He uses it for swing review.

I’m a DH,” he said. “This is going to affect DHs across the board. What the hell are we going to do for three innings when we’re sitting there waiting to hit again? That’s what we do: watch the game, study our swings, study my teammates’ swings … ‘Devers, I think you’re coming off, you’ve got to do this …’
 

Max Power

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What's he going to do while waiting to hit? Sit on the bench and scratch his balls like every other DH did for the first 30 years the rule was in place.

Looking at his batting breakdown, his K rate is basically in line with his career averages, as is his groundball to flyball ratio. The big difference is his groundouts to air outs, where he's flying out way more than ever before. He's not hitting the ball hard enough to get past an outfielder or over the wall.
 

Rovin Romine

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He doesn't use it to scout opposing pitchers. He uses it for swing review.
I’m a DH,” he said. “This is going to affect DHs across the board. What the hell are we going to do for three innings when we’re sitting there waiting to hit again? That’s what we do: watch the game, study our swings, study my teammates’ swings … ‘Devers, I think you’re coming off, you’ve got to do this …’
Yeah. . .I don't know. I don't want to say that the man couldn't find some benefit from reviewing his first AB before his second, and caveats about the fragile mental state/superstitions of some pro-athletes, however:

First time facing SP 2019: 327/427/653/1.080 (143 AB)
Second time facing SP 2019: 316/375/701/1.076 (128 AB)

2020: 256/310/462/771 (42 AB)
2020: 297/333/568/901 (39 AB)

I'm sure there's some fine points to make about the above, SSS and all that, but overall that makes the "He's suffering because can't make in-game corrections," argument seem kinda like bullshit to me.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Looking at his batting breakdown, his K rate is basically in line with his career averages, as is his groundball to flyball ratio. The big difference is his groundouts to air outs, where he's flying out way more than ever before. He's not hitting the ball hard enough to get past an outfielder or over the wall.
I haven't watched nearly enough Red Sox baseball this year to know if this has any merit, but part of me (the glass-half-full part) wonders whether he had already more or less decided he wasn't going to opt-out after this season before the year even started, and once it became quickly clear that the Sox weren't going to be contenders he just decided to treat this year as extended spring training and work on certain aspects of his swing or something. As you say, really the only statistical anomaly for him is that he's not hitting balls hard/barelling them anywhere near his career numbers, which could be the result of such experimentation.

It could also be the result of reduced bad speed, which is potentially more concerning - I don't think that's injury related because if he was at all hurt he already would have been shut down like Benintendi was, which means if bat speed is an issue, it's most likely just wear-and-tear and age, which doesn't bode well for upcoming seasons.
 

curly2

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Honestly, I think as much psychologically as anything. Baseball players are such creatures of habit, and this certainly is messing with his mind big time. How much of his suckitude is attributable to this, we'll never know. But I don't think it is insignificant.
I agree with this 100 percent. J.D. worked incredibly hard to become a great hitter, but there might be a part of him that views video review as his lucky rabbit's foot, and he can't hit without it.

Age may mean he'll never have another 1.000 OPS+ season like he did in 2017 and 2018, but he should still be a good hitter the next two years. A sports psychologist could help.
 

DJnVa

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Yeah. . .I don't know. I don't want to say that the man couldn't find some benefit from reviewing his first AB before his second, and caveats about the fragile mental state/superstitions of some pro-athletes, however:

First time facing SP 2019: 327/427/653/1.080 (143 AB)
Second time facing SP 2019: 316/375/701/1.076 (128 AB)

2020: 256/310/462/771 (42 AB)
2020: 297/333/568/901 (39 AB)

I'm sure there's some fine points to make about the above, SSS and all that, but overall that makes the "He's suffering because can't make in-game corrections," argument seem kinda like bullshit to me.
It's not *just* 1st AB to 2nd AB. It's how he keeps his swing fresh--he's not just reviewing his previous AB. To each his own, but taking away something that gives a player a routine and immediate feedback doesn't strike me as bullshit.

There's been a ton of stories how he had to rebuild his swing to turn into what we now recognize as JD Martinez. Even if you think it's all a placebo effect, that still clearly matters to him. He's clearly not comfortable.
 

Rwillh11

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Isn't the lack of in-game video review pretty clearly weight on him?
Maybe - but you'd have to believe it's impacting him significantly more than it's impacting everyone else - and driving quality of contact rather than K rate (which seems the more obvious thing to be hit by lack of video)
 

Rovin Romine

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It's not *just* 1st AB to 2nd AB. It's how he keeps his swing fresh--he's not just reviewing his previous AB. To each his own, but taking away something that gives a player a routine and immediate feedback doesn't strike me as bullshit.

There's been a ton of stories how he had to rebuild his swing to turn into what we now recognize as JD Martinez. Even if you think it's all a placebo effect, that still clearly matters to him. He's clearly not comfortable.
You can dig deeper into the AB splits if you want. If the idea was that his swing deteriorates without video monitoring for each AB, we'd expect his first AB in the game to be good. It's not. We'd expect the second AB against the same pitcher to be worse. It's not. It's markedly better.

This year, against relief pitching (deeper into the game) he certainly does suck relative to facing starters and in the context of his career. SSS caveats.

He "rebuilt" his swing in 2014, when he was 26, and has had success on three different teams. So, if watching his own swing is some kind of thing for him. . .I'm not sure what to say beyond that he needs to put on his big-boy pants.
 

Rwillh11

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Javy Baez and his .623 OPS has been outspoken about about this.
Interestingly, with Baez, his exit velocity isn't really down (last 3 years 90.6, 91.0, 90.3), but he's striking out more - in part because he is swinging less at pitches in the zone. https://www.fangraphs.com/players/javier-baez/12979/stats?position=2B/SS

I can believe that some players rely on video more than others, but the weird thing with Martinez is that unlike Baez, his approach seems the same (no real change in o-swing % or z-swing %), he isn't striking out more, he's just not doing anything with the ball when he makes contact. Seems like if he was just getting fooled because of lack of video, that's not what we'd expect?
 

effectivelywild

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Interestingly, with Baez, his exit velocity isn't really down (last 3 years 90.6, 91.0, 90.3), but he's striking out more - in part because he is swinging less at pitches in the zone. https://www.fangraphs.com/players/javier-baez/12979/stats?position=2B/SS

I can believe that some players rely on video more than others, but the weird thing with Martinez is that unlike Baez, his approach seems the same (no real change in o-swing % or z-swing %), he isn't striking out more, he's just not doing anything with the ball when he makes contact. Seems like if he was just getting fooled because of lack of video, that's not what we'd expect?
I think the routine though of being able to watch his swing could be very important to him and just getting out of the routine could do just enough to screw up his batting line without him losing his approach at the plate or getting fooled by pitches. If he feels like he needs video to see his swing and make adjustments, without it he may be feeling just a little off and maybe not trusting his swing as much. Not to the point where he starts swinging at pitches he'd otherwise take, but if its just a little--a little loss of efficiency, alittle more "thinking about his swing" during his at-bat, it could be enough to lower his hard hit rate. And, as he continues to struggle, the "lack of in-game video" gremlin may start to live more and more inside his head, rent-free (or at least with heavily subsidized rent). Given how slim the margins are between success and failure as a batter are, it wouldn't surprise me if a swing being just a little off (along with some bad batted ball luck) could lead to a deep slump.
 
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Tonight's oppo home run was a positive sign. When he's going good, he's driving the ball to right and right center. What I've seen watching him hit in this slump is too much trying to pull everything, especially outside pitches, resulting in a lot of weak contact.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Tonight's oppo home run was a positive sign. When he's going good, he's driving the ball to right and right center. What I've seen watching him hit in this slump is too much trying to pull everything, especially outside pitches, resulting in a lot of weak contact.
Hasn't it been indicative of a hitter's bat swing and pitch recognition beginning to fail when they start to pull everything? My apologies, but I feel like I've read something along these lines before on the pages of SoSH in the past....