This Is An Off-Year?

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
2000 .364 +.004 .446 -.014 98 57 81 68 5.7
2001 .324 -.012 .475 +.044 107 40 68 47 5.2
2002 .339 +.010 .500 +.079 122 43 87 72 6.1
2003 .369 +.029 .592 +.154 144 58 83 98 7.9
2004 .380 +.034 .603 +.157 145 75 133 135 8.5
2005 .397 +.065 .604 +.187 161 102 124 149 9.0
2006 .413 +.070 .636 +.194 164 119 117 152 9.8
2007 .434 +.097 .599 +.178 167 108* 100* 147* 9.9

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.

31 comments… add one
  • He’s got 106 runs scored this year, ninth in the majors and an easy best over Youk’s 84. Last year, Papi finished with 115 (13th in the Majors) and Youk finished with 100, next best being Lowell and Ramirez with 79 each.
    Speed is overrated.

    Kazz September 14, 2007, 2:47 am
  • So, do you guys think that Ortiz will continue this trend of going for OBP and average? This can’t be the last we’ve all seen of David Ortiz the slugger.

    doug YF September 14, 2007, 3:20 am
  • paul, i understand the motive for this post, but i honestly don’t think too many of the knowledgable posters need convincing…i don’t hear too much criticism of the year ortiz is having…it’s tough to followup a 50+ homerun year…ask roger maris, he hit 33 the year after he hit 61…papi’s ba and obp are on a path to be the best of his career, and his slg is close to being his second best…papi’s 30+ hr and 100+ rbi is nothing to sneeze at particularly since he is doing it without any artificial means, unless that gut of his gives him some sort of unfair advantage ;) some folks may argue that he hasn’t been as “clutch” this year, but how could he possibly be expected to repeat the frequency and drama of the past few years’ walk offs [that was freakish, frankly…funny thing about rbi’s, if you ignore the fact that he has 20 fewer homeruns, it’s as much a function of the guys in front of him in the batting order as it is his own hitting…this season the sox top of the order seemed more unsettled [early on anyway] than last year…i have no stats to back that up, just a feeling…

    dc September 14, 2007, 7:46 am
  • I agree with dc–the top of our lineup has been a lot more random and different this season than in the past. Lugo, Coco, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youkilis and Drew have all been in random combinations of the 1-2 spots this year, my favorite being the Ellsbury – Pedroia combination. If the Sox had a consistently successful 1-2 at the top, imagine how many RBI’s Papi might have by now.

    Atheose September 14, 2007, 8:29 am
  • Mike Lowell deserves an assist for Big Papi’s impressive 106 runs scored…

    Hudson September 14, 2007, 8:56 am
  • No doubt. I think the post is more a response to the carping we’ve heard in the Boston press about him — particularly Gordon Edes’ inexplicable recitation of how close Ortiz came to become “just the fourth player ever to hit fewer than 30 home runs one season after hitting more than 50.”
    Also, Doug, I think Ortiz is maturing as a hitter to where it’s not a zero-sum proposition (average OR power). He’s hitting for high average, drawing tons of walks and still hitting for power (he’ll wind up with roughly the same number of extra-base hits as last season). I don’t know that he’ll ever be a Triple Crown candidate, but he’s in the top 10 in all three of those categories, something I don’t believe any other player in the American League can claim.

    Paul SF September 14, 2007, 8:59 am
  • What about Arod and Mag’s? Vlad is real close also.
    Papi has complained more than once about the atrocious pitches he has been on the receiving end of all year. Probably a Manny thing, with Papi being pitched around. Pitching him outside invokes wall doubles, and I see he’s on target to hit the most doubles of his career.

    BostonRAW September 14, 2007, 9:16 am
  • To begin with, we all know that without David Ortiz the Red Sox would now be approaching 90 years of futility. Consequently, his value to the average Sox fan is incalculable. I have been a Red Sox and, more importantly, a fan of SPORTS for more than 40 years. Over the years I have witnessed many truly clutch performances, in all types of sports. I am not an expert at quantifying the value of one particular player versus another, BUT in my mind the greatest performer in the CLUTCH I have ever had the privilege to watch is David Ortiz. If there was ever a need for a game saving hit in a hugely important game, I’d want Papi taking the at bat. Having said that, this year is different, this is not the same David Ortiz. That guy would literally uncoil in a microsecond and unleash an incredibly powerful and viscous swing dead on target sending the ball somewhere “they ain’t”. Papi is hurt, and having seen this man in thousands of at bats, to me, it is obvious. You all have witnessed Papi’s heroics over these last years with the Sox, this year those heroics have been noticably absent, and not for the lack of opportunity either. Let me point out that I have never seen as many fly balls in the corner of deep right by Papi EVER. Those balls are homers in any other year. As I said, you’ve all witnessed the heroics, when was the last time you saw a crucial Papi homer that BARELY made it over the right field wall? In fact I can’t even remember any Papi homers to right field that didn’t rocket past the foul pole at least halfway up. David Ortiz is the consumate gamer, here is a guy who derives much of his power from his legs, but I believe, with his “barking knee” he isn’t able to generate his normal home run power. But he can still hit, and still hit home runs too, so he’s playing and adapted his game to suit the circumstances. Like spraying the ball to all fields as never before. I love the guy, think he’s the greatest clutch performer ever, but while it was a classic Papi result the other night, if you seriously think that homer Wednesday night was anything LIKE a classic Papi homer you are sorely mistaken, and in truth that ball might have been caught by a gold glover, if not simply a more experience outfielder. Give me David Ortiz at anytime, but damn, I wish his knee weren’t “barking”

    Brian September 14, 2007, 9:51 am
  • To follow up on that, as well, I’ve seen Ortiz swing at a ton of close pitches or pitches that he normally would not attempt to hit with Manny behind him, but during Manny’s slump in the beginning of the year, and now with Manny’s, ahem, injury, it seems as if Ortiz has tried too hard to make up for Manny’s shortcomings.
    I would imagine that if a “normal” Manny (that’s a wierd thing to say) is doing whta he normally does from the four hole, Ortiz is probably having one of his best years all-around; the HR numbers (55 @ +/-8)probably wouldn’t be matched, but he certainly would have a larger total than he does now.
    As always, I blame Manny!

    Brad September 14, 2007, 9:56 am
  • Brian, in some terms I agree, but as I stated, those “fly balls to deep right field are being hit off the outside (and sometimes not even strikes) of the plate. He’s not going to get the balls to hit without Manny behind him. Teams would rather walk him, let Lowell hit one off the wall and go after the rest of the lineup than let Ortiz have anything to hit. When they make a mistake, he still makes them pay for it with shots into the sixth row behind the bullpen or dead center field. Yeah, he’s injured to some extent, but he has shown flashes of real, pure power at times when a pitcher leaves one low and inside to him.

    Brad September 14, 2007, 9:59 am
  • Considering the numbers Ortiz has put up without Manny and with a bum knee/shoulder, just imagine the year he’d be having with better protection and better health!
    A-Rod is in the Top 10 in batting average, you’re right, B-RAW. He hadn’t been the last I checked, but he’s moved back in there. And Mags is cofortably at or near the top in all three categories. That’s why I put “I don’t believe” because I didn’t have time to check. Vlad is 11th in home runs.

    Paul SF September 14, 2007, 10:49 am
  • Ortiz is having another strong year despite injury and anyone, particularly fellow-YFs, who don’t admit to sick feelings when he comes up in the 9th inning with the game on the line, are kidding you and/or themselves.
    Having said that, I agree with DC – I don’t think that case needs to be made much or will cause much debate here.
    This weekend will be fun but not nearly as consequential as it could have been and normally has been in recent years. I heard Michael Kay call it Armageddon II – give me a break. Even if one team sweeps the other, neither’s place in either ALEast or WC leader standings will have changed, though one of those races will have become much closer. But NY-Boston is always fun.
    Regardless, I really don’t like NY pitching Clemens here unless the Yanks have won the first two. He should get at most 1-2 starts before the postseason given his arm and quota of possible cortisone shots. Even a great outing Sunday will seem pretty worthless weighed against a possible breakdown in October.
    But on Ortiz, yeah. He is great. And for someone who has killed us so often, he is very hard to dislike.

    IronHorse (yf) September 14, 2007, 11:10 am
  • Sox fans, who is the team MVP this season? Is it Ortiz again?
    My vote would go to Beckett.

    Nick-YF September 14, 2007, 11:12 am
  • Sox fans, who is the team MVP this season?
    Hinske. Without him, we wouldn’t realize how good everyone else is. It’s all about the reference point, baby.

    SF September 14, 2007, 11:21 am
  • Beckett or Lowell or Ortiz or Papelbon (or maybe Okajima). Probably in about that order for me, personally.

    Devine September 14, 2007, 11:23 am
  • As total outsider, Okajima, Pedroia and Lowell have been the most suprisingly big lifts to your team to me. Ortiz/Papelbon perform as expected now. Blech. I hate even having this conversation.

    IronHorse (yf) September 14, 2007, 11:31 am
  • Cora, because, you know, he’s the smartest guy in baseball.

    LocklandSF September 14, 2007, 11:35 am
  • Sox fans, who is the team MVP this season?
    The Yank pitching staff
    :)

    BostonRAW September 14, 2007, 11:39 am
  • “But on Ortiz, yeah. He is great. And for someone who has killed us so often, he is very hard to dislike.”
    if somebody says that they don’t like ortiz, they’re either talking about a different ortiz or they have no soul.
    that’s just science.

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 14, 2007, 11:40 am
  • Braw: Oh you.

    doug YF September 14, 2007, 12:03 pm
  • Favorite Ortiz moment of the year for me was the when he was about to get tagged out running to second and instead of just taking the tag he gave the second baseman a bear hug.

    LocklandSF September 14, 2007, 12:12 pm
  • Great moment, Lockland…against Seattle? You gotta tell me which game so I can (as we know we both do) go look at it again.

    Devine September 14, 2007, 12:15 pm
  • Vegas odds for tonight:
    Yanks favored, moneyline at 106. In other words, we have no freaking clue
    Which is odd, given the pitching matchup (Dice K’s troubles of late)
    StubHub ticket cost range: $265-$899 Ha!

    BostonRAW September 14, 2007, 12:38 pm
  • To begin with, we all know that without David Ortiz the Red Sox would now be approaching 90 years of futility. Consequently, his value to the average Sox fan is incalculable. I have been a Red Sox and, more importantly, a fan of SPORTS for more than 40 years. Over the years I have witnessed many truly clutch performances, in all types of sports. I am not an expert at quantifying the value of one particular player versus another, BUT in my mind the greatest performer in the CLUTCH I have ever had the privilege to watch is David Ortiz. If there was ever a need for a game saving hit in a hugely important game, I’d want Papi taking the at bat. Having said that, this year is different, this is not the same David Ortiz. That guy would literally uncoil in a microsecond and unleash an incredibly powerful and viscous swing dead on target sending the ball somewhere “they ain’t”. Papi is hurt, and having seen this man in thousands of at bats, to me, it is obvious. You all have witnessed Papi’s heroics over these last years with the Sox, this year those heroics have been noticably absent, and not for the lack of opportunity either. Let me point out that I have never seen as many fly balls in the corner of deep right by Papi EVER. Those balls are homers in any other year. As I said, you’ve all witnessed the heroics, when was the last time you saw a crucial Papi homer that BARELY made it over the right field wall? In fact I can’t even remember any Papi homers to right field that didn’t rocket past the foul pole at least halfway up. David Ortiz is the consumate gamer, here is a guy who derives much of his power from his legs, but I believe, with his “barking knee” he isn’t able to generate his normal home run power. But he can still hit, and still hit home runs too, so he’s playing and adapted his game to suit the circumstances. Like spraying the ball to all fields as never before. I love the guy, think he’s the greatest clutch performer ever, but while it was a classic Papi result the other night, if you seriously think that homer Wednesday night was anything LIKE a classic Papi homer you are sorely mistaken, and in truth that ball might have been caught by a gold glover, if not simply a more experience outfielder. Give me David Ortiz at anytime, but damn, I wish his knee weren’t “barking”

    Brian September 14, 2007, 12:38 pm
  • “Favorite Ortiz moment of the year for me was the when he was about to get tagged out running to second and instead of just taking the tag he gave the second baseman a bear hug.”
    i was at that game. that was the second best ortiz moment i’d ever witnessed at fenway. the first being his 1st AB after the murmur scare. i got chills. (i’ve also been there for a 9th inning walk off HR.)
    but the bear hug game was the rain out make up against seattle on 5/3.
    http://tinyurl.com/2qk293

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 14, 2007, 1:28 pm
  • How could I have forgotten that one? Thanks very much, YFiB. That one also featured the two Manny go-ahead homers, including the blast to right with two out in the 8th (with aggravation-inducing celebration and all) to put them up by one.

    Devine September 14, 2007, 1:32 pm
  • yes indeed. you’re quite welcome.
    there’s a clip of the play in the highlight reel. (“betancourt turns a loving DP”… which is easily the sleaziest title i’ve ever seen for a baseball highlight.)

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 14, 2007, 1:34 pm
  • “betancourt turns a loving DP”
    LOLOLOLOLOLOL

    doug YF September 14, 2007, 2:58 pm
  • Oh jeez, bases loaded for Judas Demon.
    DM coming out.

    Hudson September 14, 2007, 9:56 pm
  • With his injury, do you think the HR total will revert to past seasons? I certainly hope so, regardless of RC. It seems like he just isn’t driving the ball as well. I’d like to think given the lack of injury, we’d be seeing a maturation of a hitter (increased walks and reduced K’s) WITH the power.

    John September 18, 2007, 4:52 pm
  • I’m not sure how much more Ortiz can mature as a hitter, other than to become Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth rolled into one. I assume that if he recovers well from his post-season knee operation, he will revert back to power numbers similar to those he had in previous years. Though with his size (NOT A KNOCK SF’S!) recovery from a knee operation may not be so simple. I don’t know.

    IronHorse (yf) September 18, 2007, 5:03 pm

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