In a season rife with controversy and disappointment, there have still been a few bright spots for the Detroit Tigers. Patrick detailed five of them last week, and it's looking more and more likely that we can add "top 10 draft pick" to that list, as backwards as that seems.
Then there's J.D. Martinez. The breakout star of 2014 has dwarfed last season's accomplishments in 2015, hitting .282/.342/.538 with 37 home runs, 96 RBI, and 4.6 WAR in 148 games played. He has a chance to be the Tigers' first five-win outfielder since Austin Jackson in 2012 and is a candidate for a contract extension this offseason.
More importantly, dingers. J.D. is three home runs shy of the 40-homer plateau this season, a milestone that has been notoriously difficult to reach in recent years. Sure, four major league players have already topped the threshold this season, but only 22 players have hit 40 long balls in a season since 2009. The big four-oh actually means something again after a decade-plus of power hitters the size of Volkswagens shredding the record book at will.
The 40-homer plateau is particularly sacred for the Tigers franchise. Only six different players have hit 40 home runs in a season in franchise history, and all of them are familiar names. Hank Greenberg. Norm Cash. Rocky Colavito. Darrell Evans. Cecil Fielder. Miguel Cabrera. If you don't know all six of these names, someone in your immediate family does and hoo boy do they have a story for you.
J.D. Martinez has 11 games remaining to hit three home runs. He has cooled off lately, hitting .244/.295/.415 with three home runs in September, and is just 4-for-24 in his last week of action. It would only be fitting for him to fall short of this marker, just as the Tigers have fallen short of expectations this season. However, if he can get hot -- and oh, have we seen him get hot -- he just might join the pantheon of Tigers sluggers atop the 40-homer plateau.