June 12, 2015

Ortiz's Struggles Raise Uncomfortable Questions

David Ortiz Batting Splits, 2015
         PA    AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   BABIP
vs RHP  150   .278  .387  .492  .879    .290
vs LHP   72   .114  .111  .157  .268    .138

While David Ortiz has been a productive hitter against right-handed pitchers this season, he has been beyond dreadful against lefties.

In 2014, however, Ortiz actually had a higher OPS against lefties (.893) than righties (.863). So what is the reason for this year's cliff-drop in production? Is it a small sample slump, or a sign of the end of Ortiz's ability to be an everyday player? And until a satisfactory answer is received for that question, what do Ben Cherington and John Farrell do about it?

Last week, Steve Burton of Boston's Channel 4 asked Ortiz a blunt question: "Are you washed up?"

Ortiz answered:
What can I tell you, man? A lot of people looked at me like that seven years ago, and here I am still.
(That's true (and I admit that I was one of them). But he was 33 then - and he is nearly 40 now.)

Before last Saturday's game, Ortiz explained, calmly, at length:
I was asked on camera the other day if I was washed up. And I pretty much didn't react to it, but I thought that was very disrespectful. You don't disrespect people like that, you know what I'm saying? I've come a long way, and everyone knows my status, and to come and wipe it in my face just because things are not going well right now, I don't think the question was fair. That tells tells me how things are around here. People forget too fast, and I don't think it's right. ... I'm not washed up. I guarantee you that. I can wake up and hit, bro. That's my nature. I'm not washed up. ...

The reason why I didn't get mad is because every time I get mad, I'm the bad guy. If I blow up, I'm the bad guy. And my [expletive] is not going to finish like this, I'll tell you that right now. I'm not going to end up like this. But you know what? Every time Papi makes some noise, it's, 'Papi's greedy, Papi's this, Papi's that.' That [question] was messed up, and because I know it was messed up, I didn't react to it. But I'm not washed up. I'm not. You know why? Because they pitch me very carefully. If they don't, I make them pay. All of them [expletive] who say I'm washed up, tell them to sit down and watch the game. ...

The minute you go through a situation like this, you're old, you're all done, you're this, you're that. Just let everybody talk. Sit down and watch the game. Sit down and watch where the pitchers are missing, sit down and watch what the strike zone is like. And remember the toughest part of the game, what is it? Hitting. I don't make excuses. I don't like to blame my [expletive] on nobody, but people need to sit down and watch the game, so they know. ...

You see all these missiles I've been hitting every year? What can I do about it? That's a hit for everyone else. What can I do about it? I hit the ball in the face consistently, right at people. There's nothing I can do about it. They play me where I hit the ball. That's why I don't worry about my batting average. My batting average has been taken away for the last 10 years. . . . Now, if you don't see me hitting for power, then you can worry.
When he did not start on Wednesday against Orioles lefty Wei-Yen Chen, Ortiz said:
I'm not playing today. That's all. I don't know what to tell you. ... I'm just not playing, that's it. That's something you've got to ask the manager. I'm not the manager here. I'm just a player, and I do what I get to be told. John told me yesterday I'm not playing today, so I'm here.
John Farrell believes opposing pitchers are pitching Ortiz differently:
Guys are going to attack him a little bit more. We've also seen some at-bats, and this isn't David, but we've seen some at-bats where we're not necessarily getting into hitters' counts too often. But yeah I think guys have looked to attack him, get him in swing mode a little bit more than looking at pitches and trying to be in a little bit more of a defined strike zone. They're attacking him right now.
Ortiz’ walk rate (10.2%) is the lowest of his Red Sox career.

Farrell added recently he is not considering pinch-hitting for Ortiz late in games, although Big Papi is 0-for-13 against lefthanded relievers this year.

Ortiz has a ton of pride and his supreme confidence that he can still get the job done - against any pitcher - is one big reason why he has had so much success over the last decade. And that's not an attribute that an athlete can easily turn off.

What the Red Sox will do as the weeks and months go on is anyone's guess. The only sure thing is that the end will come - as it does for every player - and that depressing day is likely closer than either Ortiz or Red Sox fans want to admit.

1 comment:

allan said...

2016 Contract Situation:
$10M Team Option; Option vests and may increase with minimum of 425 PA in 2015

(He has 222 PA this season.)