4-14-2010: What’s ailing Big Papi?

David Ortiz is on a streak of epic proportions. Unfortunately, it’s not a good streak. Since Sunday, Big Papi has struck out six times in at-bats. Let’s break down his 2010 performance so far, and look at each at-bat in his four-strikeout game to see what we can learn.

Good trends

Perhaps the most encouraging thing I can say is that at least he’s not flailing at bad pitches. His 16.4% O-swing rate tells us that he’s remaining disciplined up there so far. He’s also continuing to hit line drives at a normal 18% clip, and given his .273 BABIP, we might expect things to look up some for him. But I’m afraid Papi’s problems extend far beyond an unlucky BABIP.

Bad trends

Ortiz has been laying off of more pitches in general, swinging at a career low 34.5% (career 44.5%). In the games I’ve watched, it seems that he is tentative and checking a lot of swings up there, not a good sign. Despite swinging less overall, he’s missing more than ever, with a 13.3% swinging strike rate (career 9.6%). StatCorner tells us that when he does swing, he’s missing 33% of pitches in the zone and 48% outside the zone. Add to all that a career-worst 8.3% walk rate (his career low is 9.2% with the Twins back in 2002), and an unbelievable 50% K-rate (career 21.5%). There’s little to no power, and he’s hitting 46% ground balls to boot. Add to that 25% infield flies, and you are beginning to see why I’m so concerned.

Now let’s take a look at his 4 strikeout games against the Royals from Sunday. It wasn’t Zack Grienke on the mound, but Gil Meche.

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Hot Stove 2010: Options for a SP

I started doing these summaries as one post, and it just got too darn long. I just ad to throw away my shortstop post today. Anyway, on we go to starting pitching.

The Sox rotation is young (apart from Tim Wakefield) and strong, but lacks veteran depth. Behind a budding ace in Jon Lester and a very solid Josh Beckett, we’ve got (at worst) a middle-of-the-rotation filler in Daisuke Matsuzaka and some young talent. The Sox could easily go their typically conservative route, or they can trade away some of those juicy prospects for an upper-tier pitcher:

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31-19: Sox sweep Royals, go 7-0 on homestand

Boston swept Kansas City in this 4-game series, making it a perfect homestand. The Red Sox are quickly compiling the best home record out of anyone in baseball; they are now 21-5 at Fenway for the year. Kicking off a series with a no-hitter must do some serious psychological damage to the team that got no-hit, because the Royals struggled offensively until game 4 in this one.

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