The Chicago Cubs finished the three-game sweep of the struggling Boston Red Sox Wednesday night. While the series did remind us that the Red Sox aren’t very good, it also shed light on the fact David Ortiz is not playing like David Ortiz.
Case in point; Starlin Castro has been better offensively this season than David Ortiz.
This may seem like an arbitrary observation, but it’s not. The comparison came to me through one of the ESPN broadcasters who called Wednesday’s Cubs vs. Red Sox contest. He said of Castro, who was batting fourth, “He’s no David Ortiz there (or something like that),” referring to Ortiz’s aptitude in the four-hole compared to Castro.
It wasn’t necessarily a knock on Castro, considering how well Ortiz has been offensively in his career. But, to the surprise of many, Starlin Castro has actually been more potent on offense this year than David Ortiz.
Entering Wednesday, Castro’s 120 wRC+ edged Ortiz’s 118 wRC+ by two points. wRC+ is, for those unfamiliar, the most accurate offensive stat in baseball.
Papi’s wRC+ at this juncture is far from his career 138 wRC+ and 152 wRC+ last season. However, it’s important to know an above-average wRC+ is 115, so Ortiz is still a very solid bat, but just not the quintessential “Big Papi” we’ve seen in the past.
That said, Castro, weighing in at 190 pounds, is not having a bad season by any measure. It’s pretty incredible, though, that the light-hitting Castro is having a better offensive season than Ortiz.
Anyway, getting back to Ortiz. He’s having a poor year in terms of David Ortiz standards, which is clearly hurting the Red Sox. With an abundance of uncertainty about their squad heading into the year, Boston anticipated Ortiz and Pedroia to be locks of consistency. Well, that’s been far from the truth to this point. Going forward, however, that will need to change if Boston is to have a big bounce-back second half.