Red-hot J.D. excited for WC Game's intensity

Acquired July 18, Martinez hit 29 homers in 62 games with D-backs

Red-hot J.D. excited for WC Game's intensity

PHOENIX -- D-backs outfielder J.D. Martinez has watched Wild Card Games in years past with great interest, marveling at the intensity of a win-or-go-home game.

"Man," he thought to himself, "that would be a fun game to play in."

Martinez will get his chance tonight when the D-backs host the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game at Chase Field.

"I'm just really looking forward to it," said Martinez, who last played in the postseason in 2014 for the Tigers. "I think it's going to very exciting, and there's going to be a lot of energy in the stands. It's do or die. There's just going to be a lot of excitement and emotion. I think it's a very unique game and it's cool. I think if you're going to get into the playoffs, I feel like this is the way to get in."

Date Time Highlights
Oct. 4 D-backs 11, Rockies 8 WATCH

That the D-backs are in the postseason and flipped their record from 69-93 to 93-69 in one year is thanks in part to the acquisition of Martinez in mid-July.

"Where would our team be without J.D. right now?" outfielder A.J. Pollock said. "Such a great teammate. He's just a great teammate that does a really good job and comes to the ballpark with an idea and hits homers. We'll take homers all day."

Martinez hasn't homered in every game he's played in for the D-backs. It just feels that way, and it's why he's gotten the nickname "Just Dingers" since the trade.

In 62 games in a D-backs uniform, Martinez hit 29 homers in 232 at-bats over 62 games, and his 31 homers after the All-Star break were the fourth most in the Majors since 2000 behind Sammy Sosa (35) and Barry Bonds (34) in '01 and Giancarlo Stanton this season (33).

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Martinez saved his best production for the most important part of the season, winning NL Player of the Month honors for September by slashing .404/.439/.970 with eight doubles, 16 home runs and 36 RBIs. It was an historic run, as he tied Ralph Kiner (1949) for the most homers in September.

"It's just a good run I was on and just want to keep it up and continue it in the playoffs," Martinez said.

Martinez wins NL Player of Month

In mid-June, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and his staff began targeting what kind of help they wanted to get before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. With outfielder Yasmany Tomas on the disabled list, they decided they needed another middle-of-the-order bat, preferably a right-handed hitter to ease their struggles against lefties.

"We had isolated out a number of players that we were going to go scout and do work on," Hazen said. "And then ultimately as we had gotten into the end of June, early July, we had isolated down that group to the point where we were going to start making phone calls and see what was going to be available."

Hazen on acquiring Martinez

In talking with the Tigers, it appeared the D-backs had a willing trade partner, and the deal came together in about a week on July 18. For Martinez, the D-backs parted with three Minor Leaguers.

"We set the lineup how we had envisioned," Hazen said. "I think he's protected [Paul Goldschmidt] quite a bit. He's had a phenomenal run with us, and we're happy he's here. He's definitely added a different element both for right-handed and left-handed pitching."

Martinez's time with the D-backs reached its peak on Sept. 4 when he hit four home runs against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Must C: Martinez's four homers

He was just the 18th player in Major League history to hit four homers in a game and the first player of the modern era to homer in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of a game.

Ironically, the more homers the 30-year-old free agent hit for the D-backs, the more his value on the open market rose. Whether the D-backs can find room in their budget for someone who could command a hefty free-agent contract after the season remains to be seen. Just don't ask Martinez about next year while he's so enjoying this one.

"I hadn't even thought about that," Martinez said. "You just made me think about it. I've had a great two months since I've been here. Obviously, I hope it's not the last game, so try to keep it that way."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.