Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
I’m shocked J.D. Martinez wasn’t one of three finalists for the American League Most Valuable Player award. I thought he might win the thing, and he definitely has a case. I trust you agree he should have been a finalist at the least? – Chris V.
Absolutely I do. I mean, we know why he wasn’t: He played just 57 games on defense. Defense has great value — it’s going to be an important reason why Mookie Betts ultimately wins the award — and so he’s at a disadvantage in a deep field of candidates.
Plus, he was seventh in Wins Above Replacement in the AL, and the three candidates (Betts, Mike Trout, and José Ramirez) were first, second, and tied for fourth in WAR this season. I like WAR. It’s another interesting way to evaluate players. But it’s not a turn for the better if it becomes the only determining factor some voters use in awards voting. I still don’t completely trust its defensive evaluations, for one thing. (Matt Chapman of the A’s was third in WAR largely because of his stellar D at third base. I wouldn’t take him over Martinez, either).
The player Martinez should have edged out is Ramirez, who hit .218 in the second half and was tied with teammate Francisco Lindor with 7.9 WAR. If the Indians had to choose between the two players, they’d take Lindor in a heartbeat.
Maybe the same could be said with the Red Sox and the Betts/Martinez debate. But I know this: Martinez had a monster season (.330, 43 homers, 130 RBIs), filling the void that had been left in the middle of the lineup by David Ortiz’s retirement two years ago. He was the difference in large part between last year’s 93-win team that was wiped out in the first round and this year’s 108-win champion. Beyond that, he was a terrific influence and teammate. He belongs in that top three.
But what do you all think? Should J.D. Martinez have been an AL MVP finalist? I’ll hear you in the comments.