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Putting J.D. Martinez’s hot start in perspective

J.D. Martinez hit 25 homers in the season’s first half, including 17 at Fenway Park.matthew j. lee/globe staff file/Globe Staff

So, yes, it appears that J.D. Martinez was a good fit for the Red Sox lineup.

On Wednesday, Martinez continued his home run barrage, blasting an Andrew Heaney meatball just over the Green Monster for his 25th of the season. The three-run shot played a significant role in the Red Sox’ 9-6 victory over the Angels, and helped them improve to 21-3 in games in which Martinez has gone deep.

The homer also came in the Red Sox’ 81st game of the season, a punctuation mark for what ranks as one of the best individual first halves in franchise history.

Some context for what Martinez has done:


■   His 25 homers through 81 games are tied for the third most by a Red Sox player since the schedule expanded to 162 games in 1961. Only David Ortiz (27 in 2006, when he finished with a franchise-record 54) and Mo Vaughn (26 in 1995) had more. It’s worth noting that Vaughn’s start came in a strike-shortened 1995 season — meaning that he didn’t face the same cold weather that Martinez did at the very start of the season.

Vaughn’s first game came on April 26 that year, nearly a month after Martinez and the Sox lifted the curtain March 29. Ortiz started only one week later, yet even that timing may have afforded him an advantage relative to Martinez, as he launched five homers in the seven games from June 28 through July 4 (games 75 through 81).

Manny Ramirez also opened his Red Sox career with 25 homers through 81 team games in 2001. Three other Red Sox — Jimmie Foxx (27 in 1938), Jackie Jensen (26 in 1958), and Ted Williams (25 in 1950) — hit as many homers through 81 team games as Martinez, though all of those performances came in the 154-game era.


■   Martinez has the fourth-highest slugging percentage (.654) by a Red Sox player through 81 games in the 162-game era. His 1.050 OPS is the 13th highest.

■   He has 45 extra-base hits, tied for the seventh most through 81 games since the advent of the 162-game schedule.

■   His .329 batting average is the 13th highest by a Red Sox player through 81 games this century, and points to some interesting statistical similarities between Martinez and Ramirez.

In 2001, Ramirez opened his Sox career by hitting .331/.429/.649 with 25 homers. Martinez has a .329/.396/.654 line with 25 homers. In many ways, that debut from Ramirez is the closest point of comparison to Martinez as an established slugger from another team. The Boston unveiling of Adrian Gonzalez (.349/.404/.590 with 16 homers in 2011) likewise featured a player whose performance suggested Triple Crown potential.

■   Martinez’s 17 homers at Fenway are tied for the second most in franchise history through 81 games. However, it’s worth noting that the Red Sox have played only 39 games at Fenway this year. Fred Lynn hit 17 Fenway homers through 81 games in 1979, but he had 42 home games. Foxx hit 19 Fenway homers through 81 games in 1938 — on his way to a franchise-record 35 total at home — but he had a whopping 45 home games to that point, and a few more weeks of warm weather in a season that started April 18.

A half-season, of course, does not a full year make. There have been remarkable starts that proved unsustainable; the Boston debuts of Gonzalez in 2011 and Ramirez in 2001 both featured MVP-caliber performances through 81 games before giving way to “merely” excellent numbers down the stretch.


Of course, the opposite has also taken place. On three separate occasions, Ortiz hit 27 or more homers over the season’s final 81 games. Carl Yastrzemski’s MVP worthiness in 1967 was amplified by what he did over the season’s final 81 games. And, of course, Martinez himself blasted 31 homers over the final 81 games of last year, tied for the ninth most in the era of the 162-game schedule.

It remains to be seen what happens. Nonetheless, the spectrum of possibilities that Martinez has opened includes the possibility of one of the great offensive seasons by a Red Sox hitter — albeit one that in some respects currently ranks slightly behind Mookie Betts (.338/.428/.684).

Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @alexspeier.