David Ortiz made some waves this spring by advocating again for the acquisition of a big bat to hit behind him in the lineup — under the theory that without a Manny Ramirez-esque bat protecting him, he will receive no pitches to hit.
- Batting 1st: 1 for 3
- Batting 2nd: 2 for 2, 2B, 2 RBI
- Batting 4th: .289/.383/.580, 25 HR in 402 PA
- Batting 5th: .285/.375/.596, 25 HR in 416 PA
- Batting 6th: .288/.315/.538, 3 HR in 54 PA
- Batting 7th: .312/.353/.562, 1 HR in 17 PA
- Batting 8th: 1 for 2, HR, RBI
- Batting 9th: 0 for 10, 1 BB
Over 907 plate appearances, that's a total line of:
- .286/.368/.582, 55 HR, 172 RBI, 108 BB, 157 K
Ortiz isn't asked to pinch hit much because he's rarely out of the lineup, and most of these at bats took place in 2003 and 2004, when he was still coming into his own. So we would expect the line to not be the .300/.400/.600 we were used to seeing from 2005-07. Anyway, so far it looks like Ortiz was pretty good without Manny's protection. But that was five and six years ago, when Ortiz was still a surprise to everyone on the planet. What about those times since then, when Ortiz has been among the most feared hitters in the game and pitchers would have incentive to pitch around him without a Hall of Fame slugger behind him?
- 2003: Zero games
- 2004: Four games in July.
- 2005: 11 games scattered throughout the season.
- 2006: Four games through August, then the final 19 games of the season.
- 2007: Eight games through August, then the final 27 games of the season.
- 2008: Six games through July, then the final 49 games of the season.
Many of these plate appearances have very small sample sizes, but beginning in 2006, as Manny's knees began acting up (or not), and finally culminating with the July 31 trade to LA, Ortiz was given more and more time with a variety of non-Mannian bats to protect him.
- In 2006, capping his historic 54-homer season, Ortiz hit .304/.524/.732 during the 19 games Ramirez was shelved.
- In 2007, capping his best season by OPS+, Ortiz hit .394/.521/.840 during the 27 games he appeared without Manny, including 22 extra-base hits and 28 RBI to go with 25 walks (only five intentional).
- In 2008, capping a much more frustrating season marred by injuries, Ortiz still hit .262/.381/.519 in the final 49 games, good for a .900 OPS that topped his season-long OPS of .876.
So in six years, Ortiz has batted third without Ramirez behind him 568 times. The line:
- .313/.456/.651, 35 HR, 109 RBI, 120 BB, 78 K
Ortiz clearly walked more without Manny (12 more walks in 350 fewer appearances), but he also was a more feared hitter in general from 2006 forward, when he appeared without Manny with greater and greater frequency. His walk rate jumped in 2005 and has stayed stratospheric, and that obviously contributes to at least some of the additional walks we see here.
- .296/.402/.607, 355 G, 1,475 PA, 90 HR, 281 RBI, 228 BB, 235 K
Versus his entire career in a Red Sox uniform:
- .297/.398/.598, 846 G, 3,735 PA, 231 HR, 731 RBI, 535 BB, 634 K
Versus his appearances with Ramirez behind him:
- .297/.388/.592, 491 G, 2,260 PA, 141 HR, 450 RBI, 307 BB, 399 K
Surprised? I know I was. Expecting to see little to no difference between Ortiz's lines with and without Manny, I wasn't prepared to see that Ortiz has posted an OPS nearly 30 points higher when Ramirez wasn't protecting him.
- With Manny: 16.0 PA/HR, 5.0 PA/RBI, 7.4 PA/BB, 5.7 PA/K
- Without him: 16.4 PA/HR, 5.2 PA/RBI, 6.5 PA/BB, 6.3 PA/K
The conclusion: Ortiz has walked quite a bit more without Manny behind him, but he also has struck out less and hit home runs at basically the same rate (roughly one home run difference over a 600-PA season).