The ups and downs of Big Papi’s last few years have been well documented. From Franchise HR marks to steroid admissions (kind of?). Sometimes he carries the Sox, sometimes he sinks them. For someone who was once named “Most Clutch Player In Red Sox History”, he certainly has been inconsistent.
In 2010, he has had some normal trends, and some abnormal (for Ortiz) ones.Let’s first tackle the clutch player angle. This season Ortiz’s average in high leverage situation (for the leverage explanation, see yesterday’s post) is shockingly low: .217 in 28 PAs. You might think small sample size, but isn’t that sort of the point? These are the few big situations where Ortiz has defined his career as a Red Sox hitter. Interesting that the Rays still walked him in the 9th last night. His medium and low leverage situation averages are .272 and .263 respectively.
Another of the obvious tags Ortiz has been pinned with over the years is the Lefty vs Lefty struggles he has had. Every manager looks for L v L matchups, and in Ortiz’s case, for good reason. His is sitting squarely on the Mendoza Line vs lefties, while he is up at .287 vs righties. Not a good stat by any means, but about what you’d expect given his slow start to the year and the usual splits for right vs left.
What ties these two stats together (unfortunately) is that late in the game you see a lot more pitchers being pulled for matchup specific at bats. Clearly this tactic is changing the results for Ortiz late in games in ways it never did in 2004. He used to get the “Last Night” treatment where teams would just not bother with the pitching change and walk him. Now they see him as an out given the correct matchup more often than a “keep away IBB”.
I’ll leave you with this link and a few more tidbits. If you’d like to look further into Papi’s split stats click here. Here are those tidbits I promised. Most of which are regarding Ortiz’s encouraging progression through the first few months of the season.
His BB/K ratio has been better in every month. As has his K%.
His Infield Fly Ball Percentage was 15% in April, and 3% in May.
His OPS was .524 in April. It hasn’t been below .928 in any month since.
He isn’t on the DL yet. Which in 2010, counts for a lot.