I missed this article last week about David Ortiz on ESPN. Some of the numbers started to get me thinking…like these (from June 1st on):
Player A: 23 HRs, 83 RBIs, .292 BA, .400 OBP, .520 SGP.
Player B: 27 HRs, 81 RBIs, .264 BA, .356 OBP, .548 SGP.
Player A was voted the postseason MVP by the New York baseball writers and was the toast of Gotham.
Player B, who hit more home runs, drove in nearly the same number of runs, and had a higher slugging percentage, was cast as the bane of Boston, last seen careening down the path of certain decline.
Alex Rodriguez, meet David Ortiz.
This would normally make great “throwdown” material for Red and I, but after his weekend incident at the mall with that kid buying the Rays cap, I guess I’ll go it alone.
I think we will see the triumphant return of the most prolific clutch hitter Boston has ever seen. There was a perfect storm of maladies that converged on Ortiz last season. Any one of them could have caused a hitting slump: all of them at once would be pretty tough for anyone to overcome.
The WBC: I think we are learning pretty quickly that the World Baseball Classic takes a certain toll on players. In a part of the year that Ortiz should be taking leisurely trips to the batting cage, he was instead playing in full, meaningful games. Granted, he did the same thing in 2006 and hit the ball out of the park 54 times, but he was three years younger at the time…and the bigger guys sometimes age quickly.
The Wrist: We know a wrist injury plagued him all season in 2008, but just how healthy was it to start 2009? Much like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop; the world may never know.
His Dad: According to reports, Ortiz spent a lot of the 2009 winter caring for his father in the Dominican. Enrique Ortiz was diagnosed with a “serious illness” that was not disclosed at the time. I’m not sure if it ever was disclosed. We’re all human here…an ailing family member can wreak havoc on your world.
Steroids: Later in 2009, Ortiz was outed as having failed the 2003 MLB drug tests. He maintained that it was carelessness that triggered the positive, not intent to hit more home runs. Whatever the facts…just another answer we may never has…the accusation took the big guy’s smile away for some time. Maybe his swing too.
I’m not here to make excuses, but it would be hard to say that anybody in any profession could block all of these issues out and perform at the same level as before. I’m just not willing to throw in the towel on a guy that has given me so many great memories. I’m rooting for Ortiz to bring us a few more of those.