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J.D. Martinez could be MVP, if not for one small problem

Wednesday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes J.D. Martinez’s ridiculous season, Chris Sale’s bad start, and Andrew McCutchen’s big night.

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

J.D. Martinez has only been with the Diamondbacks for 58 games, but he's made them count. Since Arizona acquired Martinez from the Tigers, he's hit .303/.370.752 with 28 home runs, good for a 172 OPS+ that beats out Giancarlo Stanton's season numbers even though Martinez is in a hitter-friendly home stadium and Stanton is not.

It's not just the 58 D-Backs games in which Martinez has dominated, either. With the Tigers, he batted .305/.388/.630 for a 163 OPS+, and his overall season line is at .304/.379/.694 with 44 homers and a 168 OPS+ — that slugging percentage is the highest in the majors, and his overall OPS+ bests that of Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve and Stanton, too.

The only MVP contender Martinez isn't outhitting is Mike Trout, who has managed a .309/.446/.629 season with a 188 OPS+. The problem for Trout in any MVP discussion is the same as any involving Martinez, however: both sluggers missed significant time with injury — for Martinez, it was a Lisfranc sprain in his foot — so the likes of Judge, Stanton, and Altuve are going to be the likely MVP recipients.

It's not Martinez switching leagues that's an issue, even if history is against him in this regard: no player has ever won an MVP award after changing leagues, and Rick Sutcliffe stands as the lone pitcher to win a Cy Young in that situation. We're not even going to have the discussion of whether Martinez merits inclusion in the NL MVP race because he's only played in 115 games, so even though he has 44 homers and rate stats that everyone save Trout can be jealous of, he's a non-factor.

Stanton is going to be the NL MVP. He's played in 154 games, and his season numbers are pretty close to Martinez's. The AL is more wide-open, but it's likely coming down to Judge and Altuve with Trout probably receiving some votes as a nod to his injury-shortened greatness, but not enough to win. Combine starting the year in mid-May with switching leagues, and Martinez stands little chance of even getting those kinds of votes.