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Odds are Against JD Martinez to Win the Triple Crown

JD Martinez posing with a fan
JD Martinez is having a career-year in Boston. Could it be good enough to win the Triple Crown? Photo by GabboT (Flickr) [CC License]
  • J.D. Martinez is currently top-three in batting average (.323), home runs (32), and RBI (89)
  • Only two other players (Khris Davis, Nolan Arenado) are top five in any two categories
  • Miguel Cabrera (2012) is the only player to win the Triple Crown since 1967

The Triple Crown is one of the rarest feats in baseball. Only 16 men, ten in the American League and six in the National, have achieved it. It has happened just once since 1967.

In 2018, J.D. Martinez of the Boston Red Sox has a chance at history.

Can Martinez win the Triple Crown?

Will J.D. Martinez win the Triple Crown? Odds at Bovada
Yes +400
No -600

After Frank Robinson (1966) and Carl Yastrzemski (1967) won the Triple Crown in back-to-back seasons, it was nearly 50 years before Miguel Cabrera (2012) would become the next winner.

Many have come close, typically coming close in two categories and falling well short in a third, but it is truly a rare feat.

There are two kinds of players that typically are in the running for the Triple Crown: (1) the high-average hitter who experiences a power surge, and (2) the power hitter who has an outlier of a season in regards to their average.

The latter is the best way to describe the season that Martinez is enjoying.

Average season won’t get Martinez the Triple Crown

Martinez’s Season Batting Average Home Runs RBI
2014 .315 23 76
2015 .282 38 102
2016 .307 22 68
2017 .303 45 104
2018 .323 32 89

*2018 stats as of August 2nd

Martinez is one of Major League Baseball’s modern-day success stories.

A mid-round pick of the Houston Astros, Martinez struggled in his first three years. He never earned more than 395 at-bats in a year, logging averages of .274, .241, and .250. He hit a total of 24 home runs over that span.

Martinez hit a total of 24 home runs in his first three seasons in the Majors

In 2014 he moved to Detroit and things just clicked with the Tigers. From that point on, he has yet to have a season with less than 20 home runs or a .280 average.

Can Martinez raise his batting average enough?

While Martinez does deserve praise for the season he’s having, he still has to take a massive leap in the batting race. He’s well behind teammate Mookie Betts (.338) and the injured Jose Altuve (.329). He’s also just two points ahead of Christian Yelich, and four ahead of Nick Markakis.

The names behind him don’t have much of a track record above .300 (Markakis has two of the three .300+ seasons), but the names ahead do.

MLB Rank Player Team 2018 Batting Average
1 Mookie Betts BOS .338
2 Jose Altuve HOU .329
3 JD Martinez BOS .323

Betts started his career with back-to-back .291 seasons and finished 2016 hitting .318. For Altuve it’s been five-straight years of .310 or better.

Power no problem in chase for Triple Crown

Martinez has had no problem leaving the yard or driving in runs the past five seasons.

He eclipsed 22 home runs for the fifth-straight year, and has 30 or more in three of the last four years. He also had his first 40-homer season (45) last year, splitting time between the Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

MLB Rank Player Team 2018 Home Runs
1 JD Martinez BOS 32
2 Jose Ramirez CLE 32
3 Mike Trout LAA 30

In that time he has two 100 RBI seasons (102 in 2015 and 104 in 2017), and likely would’ve come close in his two injury-shortened seasons.

The four behind him in homers are Jose Ramirez (32), Mike Trout (30), Khris Davis (29) and Nolan Arenado (28).

Ramirez is uncharted territory when it comes to power. This is his first season with more than 30, so as the unknown, it’s tough to know if he’s Martinez’s biggest threat.

While Trout is enjoying a season for the ages, his previous career-high in homers is 41, and he’s only on pace for 43. Martinez winning the Triple Crown is the only thing that can keep Trout from AL MVP though.

Davis somehow discovered his power in Oakland, as he’s eyeing a third-straight 40-homer season. He’s a few behind and needs to go on a run, but he’ll be breathing down Martinez’s neck. So will Arenado, who is approaching a fourth-straight year of 35+ homers. He likely will fall just short of Martinez, though.

Can Martinez hold off the field in RBIs?

It’s Davis and Arenado who may have the best shot at catching Martinez in the RBI race, though.

MLB Rank Player Team 2018 Runs Batted In
1 JD Martinez BOS 89
2 Khris Davis OAK 84
3 Javier Baez CHC 83

Martinez leads Davis by five, but with two months to go, that’s nothing. Javy Baez and Eugenio Suarez have topped the 80 mark too, and Arenado rounds out the top five.

Martinez is hitting in the best lineup of those five, and likely will be able to keep them at arms length.

Will Martinez wear the Crown at season’s end?

In short, no. It’s just too hard.

Barring injury, Martinez will (at least) be top two in the AL in home runs and tops in RBI. His league standing may take a hit, but he’ll be looking down at the American League come September.

If Martinez was leading all three categories, then it might be a safer play.

The odds are better Martinez is wearing a ring at the end of the year than a Triple Crown

Consider this though: it will likely take two injuries for him to take home the batting title. Altuve is already on the verge of coming back from one. But if Betts got hurt? The guy that Martinez usually knocks in is on the shelf.

So while he could gain in average, the pack could catch him when it comes to RBI.

J.D. Martinez is having a spectacular season that shouldn’t be ignored. But the odds are better he’s wearing a ring at the end of the year than a Triple Crown.

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Bryan fell in love with sports watching Roy Halladay come within an inch of a no-hitter, and has spent the past decade turning this love into a career. He brings eight years editing with TSN and nine years of on-air work with Rogers Media to his odds and game analysis here at SportsBettingDime.