A Tribute to the Consistency of David Ortiz

Seemingly every year, David Ortiz gets off to a slow start, and Red Sox Nation freaks out. Fans look on mournfully, remembering better days. Media members ask questions about his age, health, and tendency to hit balls into defensive shifts. Executives worry about this team’s post-Papi future.

David Ortiz

In June, we typically find ourselves contemplating whether the end is finally near for our most beloved player, as his average sags and his demeanor sours. Then, out of nowhere, he begins hitting, and hitting, and hitting some more. The balls that were being caught suddenly fall in; the doubles off the wall begin to fly over it; and, before long, September arrives and David Ortiz is once again on pace for 30 home runs and 100 RBI. It’s like clockwork.

This year was no different. Papi hit .236 in April, .214 in May and .237 in June, as the extreme shift finally seemed to have defeated him. Moreover, Ortiz struggled with the lower strike zone many umpires seem to be deploying and, as a result, he was all too often in negative counts that left him at the mercy of pitchers.

However, just when people really began to doubt him, David Ortiz rediscovered his magic touch. In a microcosm of his career, Papi triumphed through adversity, hitting .298 in July, .352 in August and .292 thus far in September. Furthermore, his OBP has risen from .326 in the first half to .403 in the second, while his OPS soared to an unbelievable 1.111 from just .762.

David Ortiz Boston StrongIn essence, David Ortiz has been swinging the bat as good as ever in the last three months. Accordingly, the slugger currently has 31 home runs and 87 RBI with 24 games remaining. In the remaining weeks, he could quite conceivably break through the 100 RBI plateau for the ninth time in his remarkable Red Sox tenure.

Thus, I find it absurd that some fans were less than delighted when Ortiz’ option vested for 2016. Sure, the DH spot would be absolutely ideal for Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval, but why would you willingly tamper with that position when you’re receiving from it perhaps the closest thing to guaranteed production as currently exists in Major League Baseball? David Ortiz has been consistently sensational in thirteen years as the Red Sox DH, averaging 33 home runs, 106 RBI and a .378 OBP per season in Boston. Aside from unfounded conjecture about advancing age, why would you even question his ability at this point?

Papi will be 40 this winter, which undoubtedly brings new challenges, but that is just one number offset by the mine of data that represents his brilliant track record of success. However you dice it, David Ortiz has been a hero for the Red Sox since 2003, and, even after all he’s done for this town, I still think he deserves more respect.

Accordingly, when Papi blasts his 500th career home run, possibly this month, there will be an outpouring of praise and support from around the nation. That’s all good and thoroughly deserved, but I feel our sentiment could be better used in more mundane moments, or moments of struggle. We have a duty to respect and admire David Ortiz’ wider body of work, and his immense fortitude in continuing to deliver against all odds for the Red Sox.

Papi has been a model of consistency. We should aim for similar uniformity in our admiration of a Boston sports legend.

David Ortiz sent home with illness

David Ortiz was sent home Sunday with a respiratory illness on Sunday, meaning he missed the 8-6 loss to arch rivals, the New York Yankees. And, of course, the conspiracy theories were flying. Most suggested that Ortiz was sent home because he didn’t want to play first base, which John Farrell had floated around as an before the All Star Break.

Farrell told the media that he sent David Ortiz home before the first pitch on a doctor’s David Ortiz orders. According to ESPN, John Farrell became aware that Ortiz might not play last night and had checked in with Ortiz via text Saturday night after the team’s win that night, and in person on Sunday morning. When asked if it could impact his availability after the All Star Break, Farrell just said that the team will check on him daily, and that he hoped it wouldn’t.

Now, to the fun stuff: The conspiracy that David was sent home for refusing to play first base. It makes sense from a certain perspective, but I personally find it hard to believe that David Ortiz would have intentionally sat out to avoid playing first. Yes, his ego has become pretty big at times in light of the fact that he played a huge role in bringing Boston 3 World Series titles, but my feeling is that he still wants to help this team get back on track. If he was healthy, I think he most likely would have, at the minimum, kept himself available as a late-game pinch hitter if he didn’t feel comfortable at first for that particular game.

Personally, I have to wonder if this is frustration towards a generally under performing team over the last couple of years getting worse, especially against the Yankees. The Yankees have now won 5 straight series at Fenway Park dating back to last year, per ESPN, which stings for Red Sox fans. Bad enough the team can’t beat our arch rivals at the moment, but to lose 5 home series in a row in 2 years is frustrating beyond belief.

Just a quick note to Red Sox fans: David Ortiz isn’t the guy to look at, at least for this game. The team on the field didn’t get the job done on Sunday, so direct your frustration towards them. If it turns out there is something in the “David wasn’t really sick” theories, then you have every right to be angry at him, but for now, your frustration should be directed at the guys who were actually taking part in the game on Sunday.

David Ortiz Starting Slow In 2015

With the additions to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez it was expected the pressure would be taken off David Ortiz to be the main guy in the middle of the Red Sox order. Ortiz has performed up to and even above the standards many have expected the 39 year old to live up to in recent years but this season Ortiz has been struggling in the middle of the Sox order.

Ortiz has been a victim of the shift, obviously not much he can do about it unless he startsDavid Ortiz going the other way more, but easier said than done. With his average now just .221 Ortiz could be quietly having one of his worst seasons in a Red Sox uniform. Obviously no one expected him to hit 50 home runs again, or win a batting title. But, the offense of the Red Sox needs him to perform at a high level. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are battling injuries that don’t look to be going away any time soon.

Ortiz is not the only Red Sox hitter struggling, but I feel he is the most important right now. He is the identity of this Red Sox team and the offense will be most successful when he is on. The lineup changes manager John Farrell made over the weekend were small and he seemed to revert back to the usual lineup already after flip flopping Ortiz and Ramirez this weekend. They were back to their normal spots in the lineup Monday. I feel Farrell is too reliant on going right-left in the lineup and should just have the best hitters at the top of the lineup. A hot Xander Bogaerts should not be hitting 7th, and a struggling David Ortiz should not still be hitting 3rd.

Mike Napoli had been struggling with his average dipping as low as .171 last week but with a great weekend series against the Angels he raised it to .211. 40 points in a weekend is a lot to expect but it is time for Ortiz to get on a roll and carry this Red Sox offense like he has the past ten plus years.

If and hopefully when Ortiz comes around with the bat, the Red Sox offense will be what many expected it to be before the season. Expecting the team to score 900 runs and be one of the best offenses in the American League, while stepping up in an American League East that no ones seems to be grabbing a hold of.

Ortiz has been the guy for the Red Sox for so long, admitting that he is struggling at the plate is something many people will refuse to believe, but his stat line is down and so is the Red Sox offense.

Red Sox This Year vs. Last Year

Red Sox

So far, through nine games this year, we’ve learned that the Red Sox can score runs. Lots of runs. We’ve also learned that they will give up runs. Sometimes, lots of runs.

Through the first nine games in 2015, the Sox have scored 50 runs, compared to 37 runs Red Soxscored in the first nine games last year. Having a 6-3 record now is also much nicer than the 4-5 start they got off to a year ago.

A major difference this year in the offense is the addition of Hanley Ramirez. He leads the club with 4 home runs and nine RBI. He is also tops with a slugging percentage of .611.  These numbers project to Hanley hitting around 20 HR and driving in close to 80. Only one player last year has higher totals than those: David Ortiz with 35 HR and 104 RBI.

Big Papi is off to good start through his first seven games, with 2 HR and 3 RBI. His season stats project out to 31 HR, 93 RBI with a .283 batting average. With Ramirez batting behind Ortiz, he’s bound to see better pitches.

Dustin Pedroia got off to a very hot start, already hitting nearly half as many home runs (3) in nine games as he had last year (7) in 135 games. This projects out to 11 HR, 67 RBI, and a .283 average, all surpassing last year’s numbers (7/53/.278.)

Two other infielders are off to hot starts, with Pablo Sandoval hitting .306 and Xander Bogaerts hitting at a .382 clip. Also doing it all is center fielder Mookie Betts, who has had success at every level of pro baseball and might not be hitting for a heavy average at only .225, but has 2 HR, 8 RBI, and leads the team in stolen bases with three. He also leads the team in exciting defense, as was depicted on Opening Day in Fenway Park when he took away a sure two-run dinger from Bryce Harper in the first inning.

So what does all of this mean? That the Red Sox offense is off to a good start, averaging 6.22 runs per game, scoring six or more runs in the first nine games of the season, which leads the majors. That they’ve won three straight series to open the season for the first time since 1952. It’s the pitching, though, that is cause for concern.

Collectively, the staff has an ERA pf 4.75, which is 27th out of 30 MLB teams. Individually, three pitchers have ERAs higher than 7.50. (Justin Masterson: 7.59, Clay Buchholz: 7.84, and Wade Miley: 10.57.) Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello have book looked strong early on.

So if the team can hit, but pitching is a problem, how do you solve it? Trade some hitters, of which there are plenty, with more being groomed in the minors.

Brock Holt leads the team in batting right now with a .533 average, but they can’t find a regular spot in the line-up for him. Daniel Nava is hitting over .300, and he isn’t a regular. Shane Victorino plays regularly, but is only hitting .130, while Allen Craig is only hitting 083.

With Holt tearing it up, and Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo waiting, and Yaon Moncada not far behind, it might be time to trade some bats and get into the arms race.

Random Thoughts From MLB’S First 48 Hours

MLB's first 48 hours Big Papi and Obama

Here are my random thoughts from MLB’s first 48 hours of the 2014 season:

Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington broke new ground Tuesday when he appeared at the White House with the team to be honored by the President. Former GM Theo Epstein opted to skip both of his teams’ appearances.

Although Jenny Dell is no longer on the Red Sox beat, she too was at The White House today, with boyfriend Will Middlebrooks. One has to wonder if the South Lawn was littered with discarded sunflower seeds when the 2013 World Champions left the grounds.

Big Papi stole the show at The White House when he took a selfie with President Obama. Apparently, this is the first selfie the President has been in since December, when he and Danish prime minister Helle-Thorning Schmidt decided it would be a good idea to take one at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Our nation’s skipper mispronounced Mike Napoli’s last name (Nuh-POE-lee), but he has almost a year to get it right with Pierzynski when the 2013 World Series Champions return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the 2014 champs.

Los Angeles Angels hitting coach, Don Baylor, broke his leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch from recently retired Vladimir Guerrero on Monday night. For those of us who remember Baylor when he was the Red Sox DH in the late 80s, he’d have been much better off just letting Guerrero’s pitch him.

If you have $20,000,000 to $30,000,000 you can spare and you appreciate art, get to New York City next month when Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Rookie” is auctioned off. The painting shows pitcher Frank Sullivan, right fielder Jackie Jensen, catcher Sammy White, second baseman Billy Goodman, and the greatest hitter who ever lived, Ted Williams. One can only wonder what a painting involving Kevin Millar doing shots and Johnny Damon doing naked pull-ups in the clubhouse would have fetched.

David Ortiz Is In The Best Shape Of His Life

David ortiz

For years, Boston Red Sox fans have loved the round clean-up hitter known as Big Papi. But this spring, fans will notice a much different looking David Ortiz.

Ortiz posted the picture up above on Twitter on February 3. It appears he has been work hard to add muscle to his 6’4 frame this off-season.

Along with the picture, he tweeted out “Finishing my workout to have another monster season for all those media hater that still doubting!!!” Obviously, Ortiz was clearly sending a message to media members who don’t believe the Red Sox should give him a contract extension.

Posted below is what Ortiz looked like last season. You can defiantly see the difference in his body from last year and the way he looks now.

 

 

The 38-year-old is entering the final year of his current two-year-contract, which is worth up to $30 million. Ortiz has made news recently saying he is looking for an extension that will keep him in Boston past 2014.

Last season, Ortiz hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs last season. He also won the World Series MVP and became an inspirational figure to the city of Boston after the Boston Marathon bombing.

We don’t know if Red Sox management will give Ortiz the contract extension he is looking for. What we do know is Ortiz has worked hard this off-season and has dedicated himself to be in great shape.