Heading into the 2013 World Series, the Boston Red Sox likely knew that they would have to rely on their big boppers to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. After all, they did rely on the their bearded gang of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli and David Ortiz among others to slug them this far in the first place, so changing up the formula would be a fool’s errand.
But keeping each of these three players in the lineup for the entire series looked to be an impossible task for Red Sox manager John Farrell from the outset. Once the games moved over to St. Louis, there wouldn’t be the use of the designated hitter any longer. With each player being confined in the field to either catcher or first base — with Ortiz only able to play first — there were simply no other options to get them into the lineup.
Well, after the first two games of the series, it is completely clear that Napoli and Saltalamacchia will be fighting over who plays catcher in Games 3-5 of the series as Ortiz has firmly cemented a spot at first base. During the first two games, Ortiz has combined to go 4-for-6 with two home runs and five RBIs while looking completely dialed in at the plate.
Taking this bat out of a lineup that looked weak in a 4-2 loss is completely impossible when one considers that his two competitors for a lineup spot have combined to go 1-for-14 during the first two games of the World Series.
While having Ortiz’s bat in the lineup will undoubtedly be a significant boost for the Red Sox, dealing with his defensive downfalls will not be such a walk in the park. Over the last six seasons, Ortiz has played a combined 32 games, which has been a direct result of his inability to play first base effectively. In the field, he simply looks like a lost man, as his 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame looks like a turtle moving on the autobahn when forced to play first base.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, this defensive pitfall is the price to pay from having a designated hitter that can absolutely mash the ball. Many people would believe Ortiz could only be so bad over three games, but after watching the Red Sox blow a lead on Thursday night as a direct result of a defensive error, it is clear that defense matters more than one would like to believe.
With the World Series tied 1-1 and with three games to play in St. Louis, a few defensive errors from Ortiz could be all it takes to send the Red Sox home with their head’s hanging. This will simply have to be a risk that Farrell takes though, as there is no justifiable way to sit the slugger after watching him crush the ball with ease during the first two games in Boston.