2008 Projections: David Ortiz

Should we be worried about David Ortiz? 2007 was an atypical season for both members of the Red Sox’ Dominican duo. For the first time in four seasons, Ortiz missed 40 HR and 130 RBI, posting a line of .332/.445/.621 with 35 HR and 117 RBI. He played through a lot of pain due to a torn meniscus in his knee for the second half of 2006 and all of 2007, and that combined with Manny’s down year had Red Sox Nation complaining about the offensive production. The Sox were not a bad offense by any measure, by the way, finishing 3rd in the AL in runs scored, 2nd in OBP and 3rd in team OPS+.

I can give you lots of reasons why Ortiz’s 2008 numbers will look more like 2004-2006 than his 2007 totals. Ortiz had successful surgery on that knee right after the season, and hasn’t had any problems in his rehab. Even with the bum knee, Ortiz hit an incredible .352/.458/.695 in the second half last year. Ortiz’ high average in 2007 was largely due to an improved approach at the plate against the defensive shift, as well as significant improvement against left-handed pitching (.306/.390/.462 in 2007). And he led the AL in extra base hits, pain or no pain (yes, the same league where MVP Alex Rodriguez plays). The fact is, Ortiz is still improving as a hitter. Conditioning is not an issue, as Ortiz reported to Spring Training last year in the best shape of his life, all muscled out.

I’m not really sure why all four projections below think that Big Papi will slug less than .600 for the first time in five seasons. The only strikes against him are that he turns 32 this year, and that he’s coming back from a knee surgery. And we all know how Papi performs with two strikes against him. I don’t see any reason why he won’t return to the 40-45 HR level with 130 RBI once again. I’ll predict a .310/.410/.600 line to go with that.

Projection comps:

Marcels: 	.299/.407/.576	34HR	 98RBI	502AB
Bill James:	.298/.408/.587	41HR	109RBI	588AB
ZiPS:		.297/.400/.596	44HR	138RBI	573AB
CHONE:		.301/.417/.595	39HR	116RBI	531AB

3 Responses to 2008 Projections: David Ortiz

  1. Pat says:

    I admit I am a bit shaken by the remarkable under achievements of some of our hitters last year. Mainly Drew, Lugo, Manny, and Coco (whom I expected more from). It’s got my expectations down for our hitters, which will at least set me up to be pleasantly surprised.

    I would happily take any of those lines from David next year. I think a more productive clean up and #5 hitter (than ’07) would give our offense a bigger boost than a better Ortiz.

    Although I’m afraid he might somehow not come through, and have a let down year like Manny did last year (pre magic finger ALDS explosion), I see no reason why he couldn’t have his best year in ’08. He has arguably the best eye at the plate, and is too smart a hitter.

    If Ellsbury leads off and plays like Bill James thinks he will, I think Papi could break 140 RBIs by years end. My only projection though is I expect him to make the top 3 in the MVP votes.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    A lot of Boston players had subpar offensive years, but that didn’t stop us from going all the way with this excellent pitching staff. If history has anything to say about it, the Red Sox offense will be fine this year as players rebound towards their career numbers.

    Baseball Musings has done a recent lineup analysis, and they’ve come to the same conclusion:

    Basically, we have no reason to worry about an offense that “underperformed” and still scored the 3rd most runs in the AL. I expect Pedroia and Youk to come down a little, but almost everyone else to improve, with some players improving significantly.

    Manny will be more productive this season, I’m almost sure of it, and our #5 hitter gave us .282/.381/.434 with 16 HR and 94 RBI overall. We could get a little more power in there, but otherwise I have no complaints about that kind of production. I’m not sure anyone’s used “Manny” and “smart” in the same sentence before, but I’ll agree with you that he’s got a plus batting eye and is probably the best natural hitter on this team. I wouldn’t worry about him until he has 2 of these down years in a row.

  3. Pat says:

    Woops! I was referring to Ortiz as the smart hitter.

    “I see no reason why he [Ortiz] couldn’t have his best year in ‘08. He has arguably the best eye at the plate, and is too smart a hitter.”

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