|Ortiz's Big Days Might be Over|
Written by Tony Meale (Contact & Archive) on May 04, 2009
And the dentist doesn’t know what to do about it.
For the better part of this decade, David Ortiz had been flat out the most dangerous hitter in the American League (and if it weren’t for a guy named Pujols, all of baseball). From 2003 to 2007, Big Papi averaged 42 homers and 128 RBI. In 2006, he had the greatest season ever for a designated hitter (yes, that’s a fact – not an opinion), batting .287 with 54 bombs, 137 RBI and 115 runs scored (and yet, he finished just third in AL MVP voting, but I digress).
And now those days are just about over.
Ortiz is 33. He’s at the point in his career when you could expect a slight drop-off in production. But while his production has decreased, it’s been anything but slight. Actually, in 2007 – the year following his ’06 outburst – Ortiz’s peripherals increased; he hit .332, scored 116 runs and even set a career high in steals with three. But his power numbers dropped significantly, as he had “only” 35 home runs and 117 RBI.
A great year? You bet. A David Ortiz year? Not quite.
Last season was the eye opener (or better yet, the eye closer); in 2008, Ortiz posted his lowest stat totals across the board since 2002 – .264/23/89/74. Granted, he only played in 109 games, but Father Time has this thing about injuries increasing with age.
This year, meanwhile, has been even worse. Twenty-five games into the season, Ortiz is barely hitting over .200. And – for the jaw-dropper – he has yet to go yard. Somehow, the Red Sox have overcome this lack of production, and, at 15-10 entering play on May 4, they are just two games back of first place in the AL East.
Your fantasy team, meanwhile, probably hasn’t weathered the storm quite as well. Because of his name, Ortiz was probably drafted somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. If this were three or four years ago, that’d be a steal. And even in 2009, one could argue that was a good value pick for Papi. But the slowly aging, quickly declining, utility-only Ortiz has been anything but worth the selection – so far.
If you have Ortiz, it goes without saying that he shouldn’t be in your starting lineup, at least not yet. Trading him at this point would almost be foolish; his value is so low that you’ll get nothing in return, especially for a fourth or fifth-round pick. The best thing you can do is bench Ortiz until he shows any sign of life whatsoever. Then insert him into your starting lineup or throw him out there as trade bait and hope to get a bite.
Besides, Ortiz will surely find his stroke. He can’t be any worse than he’s been.