J.D. Martinez leads the majors with 121 RBIs and through Sunday was second in batting average (.331) and home runs (40) while running third with a 1.038 OPS.
He has the most home runs by a Red Sox player since David Ortiz had 54 in 2006. Martinez also is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position.
No player has led the majors in batting average, home runs and RBIs since Mickey Mantle of the Yankees in 1956. Martinez could become the next player to achieve the true Triple Crown if he can chase down teammate Mookie Betts, who is hitting .342.
Just don’t mention it to him, whatever you do.
“I feel like looking up at the scoreboard and looking at statistics is like death,” Martinez said Sunday night after driving in four runs, three with a home run, against Houston. “It’s like bad. Don’t look at it. It doesn’t do anything. What good does it do? Nothing.”
Martinez instead focuses on the process of hitting well, not the results. He buries himself in scouting reports and video snippets of his swing, seeking an edge. He will gauge his success only when the season is over.
“I’m worried about the little things and I’m worried about the day to day,” Martinez said. “I just worry about the next at-bat and the next team we’re facing.
“Imagine starting the season off and saying, ‘I’ve got to hit 40 home runs.’ That looks like I’d never hit that. But if I get caught up in, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got to hit the ball on the barrel this at-bat. How am I going to do that?’
“Worry about the small goals and the big ones will take care of themselves.”
Martinez said he had no idea how many RBIs he had. Told it was 121, he finally cracked a smile.
“Yeah? Cool,” he said.
Martinez has 85 home runs and 225 RBIs the last two seasons and has hit .319 with a 1.051 OPS.
Chris Sale is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start on Tuesday night against Toronto. He had made just one start since July 27 because of shoulder inflammation.
Sale is 7-1 with a 0.69 earned run average in his last 10 starts and has struck out 109 in 65 innings. He remains a Cy Young Award contender despite the time away.
Sale leads American League pitchers in ERA (1.69), WAR (6.6), WHIP (0.85) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.5).
That Sale has made only 23 starts and pitched 146 innings could throw the award to Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell or Cleveland’s Corey Kluber.
But Sale is lined up to make at least four starts before the season ends and that should help his candidacy.
Sandy Leon was 0 for 3 on Sunday and is hitless in his last 22 at-bats. He has one hit in his last 32 at-bats and since July 2 has a .385 OPS in 44 games.
Manager Alex Cora also feels Leon can improve as a hitter with a different approach.
“We have to put him in a better position, I think,” Cora said, referencing Leon’s open stance at the plate and lack of “load” in his swing to produce more power. “He’s just chasing pitches up in the zone, down in the zone.
“Fastballs up, breaking balls down. We have to slow him down. We have to make sure he understands that . . . We just care about a competitive at-bat.”
“There are certain situations you have to put the play in play; there are certain situations you have to work the count. You have to be able to slow down the game.
“We have to make sure he stays in the middle of the field,” Cora added. “If that happens, we’re in good shape. There are other guys struggling, too, who we need to get going. With Sandy, specifically, if he gives us a competitive at-bat, like he was doing in the middle of the season, we’re fine with it.”
Top Dog steps down
Charlie Eshbach, president of the Double A Portland Sea Dogs, is stepping away from overseeing the team to become a senior adviser. Eshbach was the first employee hired when the team was created in 1992. Executive vice president and general manager Geoff Iacuessa was named president and GM of the club. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski issued statements congratulating Eshbach on his career.He started in minor league baseball in 1974 . . . MLB teams will conduct ceremonies on Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. There will be a moment of silence and on-field personnel including players, coaches and umpires will wear caps with a side patch of the ribbon during games. The Blue Jays will wear caps recognizing both the United States and Canada . . . The annual Fenway to the Runway fund-raiser will be Tuesday at the Hotel Commonwealth. The event is a fashion show featuring wives of the Red Sox players.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.