Let’s take a certain hitter, and look at some stats from when he first became a full-time player in the big leagues (asterisk for those numbers projcted over the remainder of the season):
|Year||OBP||+/- Lg||SLG||+/- Lg||OPS+||BB||Ks||RC||RC/27|
This, of course, is David Ortiz, whose "off year" this season doesn’t look so off when you take out the two big counting stats everyone looks at.
In fact, Big Papi is continuing impressive trends — essentially a lock to improve his on-base percentage for the sixth straight season, and his OPS relative to the league average for an amazing seventh consecutive year (actually eighth when you consider his negative-43 OPS+ over 20 at-bats in 1999).
Granted, Ortiz’s slugging is down — and further granted that until his recent hot streak, it was down significantly — but when you notice that slugging is down overall in the Americal League (.442 league average last year, .428 this year, lowest since 2002), the gap narrows further. Overall, Ortiz has actually given the Sox more offensive production this year — at least based on OPS+ and runs created per game — than he did last season.
What’s always been interesting to me is that as Ortiz became more of a power hitter, his strikeouts went up accordingly (as did his walk numbers when pitchers started being more careful), which is to be expected — more swings, more Ks. Now, however, his strikeout numbers are in decline, possibly below 100 for the first time since 2003 and the fourth straight year they will have dropped. It seems Ortiz as he’s gotten older has developed a knack for the strike zone that is paying off in this year’s sky-high batting and on-base averages.
He’s likely to have his lowest home run and RBI totals since 2003, but don’t let those fool you. The 2007 version of Big Papi is just as lethal as the one who ripped 54 home runs last season, and it looks like he’s gotten hot at just the right time.