Diamondbacks Acquire J.D. Martinez, the Most Underrated Outfielder in Baseball
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a 10.5 game lead in the NL West, and have won 30 of their last 34 games, so even though it's only mid-Juliy, it's hard to imagine any other team representing the National League in the 2017 World Series.
Hard to imagine, that is, unless you're the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The D-Backs are having a terrific season themselves, at 54-39 through Tuesday, good enough to have them atop the wild card standings, half a game better than the Colorado Rockies and six games clear of the Chicago Cubs. In an effort to cement their position in the race for the postseason, the Diamondbacks went out and acquired perhaps the best position player in the trade market.
Arizona dealt for the criminally underrated J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers, in exchange for three prospects, none of whom are Top-100 players. Martinez is a pending free agent, so this might well be a half-season rental, a move designed to get Arizona past the Dodgers and into the Fall Classic.
In Martinez, the Diamondbacks landed one of the game's most productive sluggers over the last four years.
This season, Martinez is batting .305/.388/.630 with 16 home runs, 39 RBIs, and 38 runs scored. He has a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .413 and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 162, good for an fWAR of 1.7. Martinez has played in just 57 games this season due to a groin injury, which accounts for the decrease in some of his counting stats.
Since 2014, few outfielders in baseball have been better at the plate than Martinez.
One of the things that makes Martinez so valuable in the NL West -- especially as the D-Backs have to deal with the Dodgers southpaw triumvirate of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood on a regular basis -- is how he has mashes left-handed pitching. In 45 plate appearances against lefties this year, J.D. is hitting .474/.556/.1.105 with a wRC+ of 325. For his career, that slash line is .293/.361/.540 with a wRC+ of 144.
Martinez hasn't played many games in Arizona, but in 33 career plate appearances at Chase Field, he's hit .241/.333/.517 with two dingers. And even though Comerica Park in Detroit is viewed as a pitcher's park, Martinez always did well there, to the tune of a .318/.376/.605 slash line. But moving to Arizona for the rest of the season should bolster his numbers, as that park has yielded the second-highst home run rate this season (1.363 per game), while Comerica is tied for 10th (1.092).
From a fantasy perspective, this park relocation should be a boon for Martinez owners.
His addition into the middle of the Arizona lineup gives an already potent lineup even more firepower. Martinez will be slotted into the middle of a group that includes A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and Yasmany Tomas. Offensively, the Diamondbacks are fourth in the National League in team wOBA (.328) and are fifth in runs scored, and Martinez should improve those numbers.
There's no denying the D-Backs' defense is going to take a hit, as Martinez is one of the poorer outfielders in baseball. Coupled with Tomas in left, fly balls hit into the Arizona outfield are going to be an adventure.
Nevertheless, the Diamondbacks are going for it in 2017, and landed themselves one of the best offensive players to help them finish the job.