J.D. Martinez is exactly the player the Red Sox need to separate themselves from the AL wild-card contenders, while keeping pace with the power-driven Yankees offense. The Red Sox are banking on Martinez to fill the void created by the retirement of David Ortiz. If Martinez produces as expected, the Red Sox will be championship contenders and Martinez baseball cards will be the talk of the town.
Like Ortiz, the 30-year-old Martinez has improved with age. Both emerged as top sluggers after being released by their original teams. Ortiz was released by the Twins before joining the Red Sox as a platoon player in 2003 and eventually becoming one of the top sluggers in team history. Martinez agreed to a deal with the Tigers after being released by the Astros in the spring of 2014. After overhauling of his swing, Martinez has emerged as an elite slugger, joining Mike Trout as the only players to hit .300 with at least 125 homers and a .550 slugging percentage over the last four years.
After hitting a career-high 45 homers last year and becoming just the 18th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game, Martinez is becoming a hobby favorite. Like Ortiz rookie baseball cards, expect Martinez’s earliest cards to increase in demand as he becomes the anchor of the Red Sox offense. Martinez’s 2010 Bowman Chrome, released less than a year after the Astros made him the the 611th overall selection in the 2009 MLB Draft, was nothing more than a common card before last season. It’s now selling for $4 with “Green Refractor” versions selling for as much as $14. Often regarded as a rookie card, the 2010 Bowman Chrome — complete with a high-gloss, clutter-free design — is one the most sought-after Martinez rookie card.
Because the Martinez 2010 Bowman Chrome is a “Prospects” subset card, it is not considered a rookie card. The one-and-only Martinez rookie card is featured in the 2011 Topps Traded set and includes the official Major League Baseball “RC” logo. With a rookie card checklist featuring Trout, Jose Altuve, Anthony Rizzo, and Martinez at a fairly limited print run, the 2011 Topps Traded set is arguably the most popular traded/update since the turn of the century. The Martinez card is selling for $8, while the “Gold Parallel” version is up to $16 and is on the rise. Renowned for sharp, crisp action photography against a simple white border background, the full sets sells in excess of $300.
Martinez was the first player drafted out of Nova Southeastern University to play in the majors. His first season as a professional baseball player is celebrated on the 2010 Topps Pro Debut card selling for $3 and on the rise. “Blue” parallel versions with a production run of 399 are hot items selling for $12. Playing left field for the Greeneville Astros for much of the season, Martinez was named the Astros Minor League Player of the Year and the South Atlantic League MVP.
J.D. Martinez may not be a household name in baseball circles at this time, but he has clearly established himself as one of the game’s best hitters. No one hit more home runs per at bat or had a higher slugging percentage (.690) last year. Martinez’s slugging was off the charts at hitter-friendly Chase Field after being traded to Arizona last year, but his power translates to success anywhere. He’s an intelligent hard-working hitter, who will soon learn to exploit the advantages of playing Fenway Park, where he has hit .444 in limited playing time. With increased exposure that comes with playing baseball in Boston, expect Martinez certified autographed cards to be on the rise throughout the summer. Currently, his 2011 Bowman Chrome Autograph is selling for $78 with Refractor versions limited to a production run of 500 commanding $148.