2024 Mets outlook: J.D. Martinez expectations and predictions

Instant impact is J.D.'s calling.
JD Martinez (above), hit 33 home runs and drove in 103 runs last year with the Dodgers.
JD Martinez (above), hit 33 home runs and drove in 103 runs last year with the Dodgers. / Norm Hall/GettyImages

With less than a week before the New York Mets take the field in the regular season, the team struck a deal with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez on a 1-year, $12 million contract on Thursday that includes deferrals. The Mets were a team that was in on Martinez as a solution to their DH question all winter, and then they waited for his market to cool down to pounce.

Martinez, a six-time All-Star, hit .271 with 33 home runs and 103 runs batted in with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year at age 35. He was looking to take advantage of that on the open market, but the market was not kind to him this offseason, and so he settled for $12 million.

J.D. Martinez will protect Pete Alonso and bat in the middle of the Mets lineup as a big piece of the Mets puzzle.

After his five-year contract expired with the Boston Red Sox following the 2022 season, Martinez chose to bet on himself when he signed with the Dodgers on a 1-year prove it contract. There, he reinvented himself by changing his approach at the plate. And as a result, he put together a marvelous season.

Martinez's Baseball Savant rankings last season were exceptional with the Dodgers, and it is because he makes hard contact so much. He ranked in the 98th percentile in average exit velocity (93.4 mph), and hard-hit rate (55.1 percent), both of which were career highs. The consistent hard contract is why Martinez has been a sought after player his entire career, and it proved wonders for the Dodgers last season.

For the Mets, Martinez means three things. The most obvious impact is that he answered a six-month long question on who the everyday designated hitter will be. It will be him, thanks to his good platoon stats. He hit .270 against righties and .274 against lefties last year. It was believed that Mark Vientos would get plenty of opportunities to be DH, but that will not be the case this season.

Secondly, the Mets lineup that had questions about their strength got stronger. Compared to their division counterparts, the Mets did not have as deep of a lineup as the Phillies and Braves in terms of game-changing power in the lineup, and there was every sense the Mets would remain behind their two rivals. Martinez will help close that gap.

Third, and most importantly, he is protecting Pete Alonso in the lineup. Never before has Alonso had stable protection behind him. With Jeff McNeil struggling the way he did last summer, teams found it easy to pitch around Alonso as they saw Alonso as a hitter who would try to do too much. Now, it will appear as though managers will have to pick a poison when it comes to the two sluggers in high leverage situations. As for who might protect Martinez, it might be Francisco Alvarez, coming off a 25 home run season himself.

Is he going to strike out a lot? Yes. Is he going to walk a lot? Probably not. But he is a high quality hitter that will boost the Mets chances of making the playoffs in 2024.

2024 stat predictions: .270 AVG, 25 HR, 90 RBI, .815 OPS