General Red Sox

About That Slugger…

David Ortiz has been outspoken the last couple seasons about the Red Sox' need for more power in the lineup, and he was at it again yesterday:

“Everybody was looking at me like I was a clown,’’ Ortiz said yesterday
at Fenway Park, dropping an expletive to make his point. “I said we
needed another 30-home run hitter. Everybody was talking trash. There
you go. Now what?’’

Okaay. Of course, the Red Sox last year finished second in slugging percentage and third in home runs — better in both categories than they did in 2008 and much better in home runs than in 2007. Now, Ortiz says the Sox needed another 30-homer hitter, which may or may not be significantly more valuable than a hitter who hit 28 home runs (as Ortiz did) or 27 home runs (as Kevin Youkilis, fifth in the league in slugging, did) or 24 home runs (as J.D. Drew did).

The Sox did have an offensive shortage in the postseason, but it's hard to say another power hitter would have solved anything, given the ones they had were atrocious. Jason Bay put up an OPS under .500, Kevin Youkilis' OPS was .250, and Ortiz himself put up a stellar 1-for-12 line with four strikeouts.

If the Sox re-sign Bay, the best way they can add a power hitter is for Ortiz to get himself healthy and worry about replicating his production from June forward.

5 replies on “About That Slugger…”

twice in a row i’m going to agree with you paul…i guess i’m getting in the holiday spirit a little early this year… ;)
but yeah, i don’t understand papi’s thinking…the sox had a strong offense this year, that just let down in the playoffs…it happens…you could say that the back end of the lineup is a little weak, but the first 2/3 of the lineup carried the load to 95 wins…not too shabby…not being a wise guy, but he may still be way too hung up on the manny leaving thing…not to say another power hitter wouldn’t be a welcome thing, but as you and i have debated many times, and agree on, is that power [in this case represented by homerun count], in isolation, without the benefit of other offensive stats, defense, baserunning, etc., is misleading…

Given the park they play in, it’s more accurate to talk about what they do on the road. There the Sox were 12th in SLG, behind such notables as the Brewers and Padres. Ortiz is a big part of that problem with his .388 SLG on the road (Lowell was pathetic too). The real problem for Ortiz is he’d be the best guy to replace or platoon. Against LHP he had a .418 SLG and a .298 OBP.

That was kind of my point, on both counts.
1., Ortiz’s request for more production would be best served by replacing him or, ideally, his own improvement.
2., This is why most successful players never go into the front office.
You know, we’ve heard a lot about the home-road offensive split, but it seems a bit overblown. Here are the home-road tOPS+ splits in the Epstein era, in which 100 would be exactly even with their season-long average. The next number is their road sOPS+, in which 100 would be exactly the league-average road OPS.
2009: 113-89, 106
2008: 109-92, 112
2007: 109-90, 106
2006: 106-94, 103
2005: 102-98, 118
2004: 112-88, 108
2003: 116-84, 111
The Sox’ split in 2009 was about as pronounced as it was in the Series-winning 2007 season and less pronounced than in either 2003 or 2004, which were inarguably the best team-wide offenses the Sox have fielded in quite some time.
Meanwhile, the two Series-winning teams had a road sOPS+ of 106 and 108, which is right in line with the 106 the Sox posted in 2009. The 2005 club — which had the smallest split and hit the best on the road relative to league average — was swept out of the playoffs in the first round.
So I’m not sold on this whole “road offense” thing. I think it’s good to try to improve those splits, but what those numbers tell me is that 1. it’s pretty easy to have wide variations from year to year, and 2. it just doesn’t portend all that much for your postseason success.

A big reason why the Sox will always have a ‘bad road offense’ is because Fenway Park is one of the most offense-friendly baseball parks in the game (very interesting how Peter “Yankee Stadium is a joke [but really it’s my current baseball reporting career that’s the joke]” Gammons didn’t seem to realize this fact). OPS+ adjusts for this beautifully, and it’s the statistic that should be used (not straight OPS) when judging the Sox offense due to their always offense-skewing stadium.
However, their 105 team OPS+ was still third in the AL, only slightly behind the 106 OPS+ Angels. But, only slightly ahead of the Rays (104), Jays (104), Twins (103), and Indians (103).

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