Most of us were pretty happy when the Mets signed J.D. Martinez near the end of Spring Training. Yes, it was unfortunate for Mark Vientos – an issue compounded by the Mets sending him to the minors at the start of the year while Martinez worked his way into shape – but it seemed like an excellent move for the team. In Martinez, the Mets picked up a proven bat on a cheap, one-year deal. Yet here we are in the first week of June, the new acquisition’s numbers are fine and yet it seems a reasonable question to ask: Has Martinez been a worthwhile addition?

Martinez has a 132 OPS+, the highest mark on the club among those with at least 75 PA. So, what’s the problem? Vientos, with 74 PA has a 193 OPS+. But it goes beyond the blocking of a guy from the farm system. While Martinez has been very productive, it’s the way he’s accomplished that 132 mark that makes you wonder.

After posting a .301 ISO with the Dodgers last year, Martinez has just a .185 mark here in 2024. That’s a solid mark. And while no one should have been expecting a repeat of last season’s ISO, we should have been anticipating one in the mid-200s. My prediction before the start of the year was a .250 ISO, though the computer models were more in the .220 range.

While the slugging has dropped off considerably from last year, the strikeouts have not. Martinez sits with a 29.5 K%, the second-highest mark of his career. That’s a lot of whiffs for a guy with just 5 HR in 146 PA.

So, with the power down and a strikeout rate near 30% – how does Martinez have a 132 OPS+? Well, the hits are falling in at an unsustainable rate. Martinez has always run elevated BABIPs but his 2024 mark is 38 points above his lifetime rate of .341 and the second-highest mark of his career, behind only the .389 BABIP he posted in 2014, his first year with the Tigers.

That initial year in Detroit is when Martinez first broke out. He had been released by the Astros, after three years and an 88 OPS+. It was a similar story to the Mets and Justin Turner. Both Martinez and Turner became advocates of the fly ball philosophy and results for both players didn’t materialize (enough) until they joined different teams.

Martinez hit 23 HR in 480 PA that first season with the Tigers. Combined with that high BABIP, it was a 154 OPS+ season. Martinez had a .238 ISO in 2014 and a 3.8 fWAR.

It’s not fair to expect a hitter to do at age 36 what he did 10 years ago. But what should we expect Martinez to do by the end of this season? To date, he has 146 PA and a 0.5 fWAR. The four projection models at FanGraphs each give an expected rest-of-season (ROS) projection and the site takes those individual forecasts and combines them into one, labeled FGDC. And that combined forecast calls for 337 PA and a 0.6 fWAR from now until the end of the year. Add that forecast to what he’s done so far and we have 493 PA and a 1.1 fWAR.

In 2023, Martinez had 479 PA and a 2.4 fWAR.

A free agent after the 2023 season, the market for Martinez was likely nowhere near as active as he probably hoped. The Mets were mentioned frequently in connection with him but it wasn’t until he agreed to a 1/$12 deal that they were able to come to terms. If a win on the free agent market is worth $8 million, Martinez would need to produce 1.5 fWAR. And even with the hits falling in at a great rate, it would be a surprise if he ended the year worth his contract.

Of course, what he’s done to date isn’t necessarily what he’ll do going forward. In his last seven games, Martinez has 4 XBH in 32 PA, which has led to a .322 ISO in that tiny sample. It’s among the possibilities that Martinez has finally rounded into shape and he’s ready to deliver the power numbers that he did last year with the Dodgers.

And it’s also possible that the big offensive surge was nothing more than seven games against sub-.500 teams in the D’Backs and the Nationals.

And the same question that we ask here about Martinez can be asked about the Mets’ hitters as a group, too. In the last seven games, the team has a .317/.368/.557 line. Nearly everyone on the team is hitting in this span. One can be optimistic, saying that the veteran hitters are finally stepping up to produce like expected.

We’ll need to see this type of hitting over a stretch much larger than seven games to be convinced of anything. And that goes for both the team and Martinez. There’s still enough season left for everyone to be happy with the final numbers. Eight games under .500 for the team and a 0.5 fWAR for Martinez was not what any of us expected to see on June 7.

But there’s still time for 85 team wins and a 2.0 fWAR for Martinez. And those two numbers may be heavily intertwined. Keep delivering those XBH, Martinez, and let’s see where this winds up.

9 comments on “How should we feel about the J.D. Martinez signing?

  • Bob P

    Good perspective Brian. The feel you get from watching the games is that Martinez has been about the only one who’s hit pretty consistently, but looking at his WAR numbers, it’s not exactly overwhelming.

    Your mention of JD’s time with the Astros and Turner’s time with the Mets makes me think about Baty. I’ve been a fan of his, and honestly was expecting (maybe hoping is a better word) a breakout season for him this year. I could see him go down the path of JD, Turner, etc. I wish the Mets could figure out how to get these guys going without needing a change of scenery.

  • T.J.

    I think the signing of Martinez was a no brainer given the price. And, I am a proponent of Vientos getting a real shot this year to determine where his place is in the future. Most of us, especially with their current record, see the playoffs as a big reach. I expect JD to have some decent trade value at the deadline, and I also think it is/was good to have a seasoned, professional RH hitter that some of young players can look to for a half a season or so. It’s impossible to measure, but how much of Vientos’ 193 OPS is due to Martinez’s presence…be that direct tips Martinez has provided, role modeling, competition, and even motivation from being farmed out once earlier this year despite hitting when he was up.

    • TexasGusCC


  • NYM6986

    I like Martinez as he is a professional hitter, and I know our expectation was that he was going to be a huge upgrade for the DH position and fit in nicely with a bunch of professional hitters that sit in our lineup. His .281 average and .798 OPS are solid numbers. Had Vientos done better in his limited time up on the big club, they would’ve felt safe to plug him in at DH and not spend the money on Martinez. If Vientos continues to hit, I see Martinez as a prime trade candidate at the deadline. Either way, at age 36, it makes sense to move Martinez unless by the end of June, the Mets are miraculously over 500 and in serious contention for a wildcard spot. Mets are 3-2 so far in June annd unlike last year, they’ve won their first series. There are a number of underachieving teams that sit ahead of the Mets in the wildcard chase, and while it would be heartwarming to make the playoffs, it seems that we would get crushed by the more elite teams. Fingers are always crossed for a good season though.

  • Metsense

    JD Martinez signing was insurance policy because Baty and Vientos didn’t earn a spot in 2024 because of their lack of production in 2023. Now in June, the Mets have Vientos at third base and Baty is in AAA. Baty should remain in AAA until Alonso and/or Martinez are traded. If the Mets decide as they near the trading deadline that they haven’t a chance for a playoff position then trade Martinez. If they have a chance then keep Martinez and Baty is SOL. The Martinez signing is still good. The insurance policy is still good and there is a value if it is cashed in.

  • ChrisF

    If it were just about JDM himself, the numbers say what they do. Hes a fine but not memorable addition like any number of fading starts the Mets have brought on in recent years.

    The bigger picture is more bright. Im sure hes been a great addition to help young players become professional. Hes a legit elite player with lots to share. The other plus factor is tht he will most definitely have real trade value.

    ROI for his signing is overall positive IMO.

    • BoomBoom

      Pretty much agree word for word with Chris F. I’ll add that the stories written this past week about his role in the players only meeting and how he not only encouraged but specified how players can hold themselves and each other accountable, while also playing with less pressure paint him in a super positive light. It’s clear there are other hitters on the team who really respect him. That being said – goodbye at the trade deadline (mariners perhaps?).

  • TexasGusCC

    Whoever was championing for the Mets to sign Justin Turner should go look at his production this year. Once again David Stearns showed that he knows what he is doing.

    I wanted the kids to get a full shot this year, but you don’t pass on JDM just because Vientos “deserves a chance”. He also deserved to not take anything for granted and not have a 35% K% in spring training, with some of those at bats being against minor league pitchers.

    Very glad to have such a pro’s pro on the Mets to help navigate this disappointing stretch the team is enduring.

  • Mike W

    I think he was a good addition. I think he could also be a good subtraction at the trade deadline.

    I would like to see them clean house for prospects, including McNeil.

    Keep Alvarez, Nimmo, Vientos, Scott, Peterson and Senga. The rest can go.

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