Tuesday, March 11, 2008
RED SOX 2008 PREVIEW: DESIGNATED HITTER
Since coming to the Red Sox in 2003, David Ortiz has hit 208 homeruns, and has knocked in 642 runs. He's also hit 11 post-season homeruns, and knocked in 38 more RBI.
Despite battling a knee injury for most of the season, Ortiz still put up the kind of numbers we're used to seeing from him. He led the team (and was 3rd in the AL) in homeruns with 35. He was 2nd on the team (6th in the AL) in RBI with 117. He led the Sox (5th in the AL) in hitting with a .332 average.
In October, he somehow found a way to improve on his outstanding regular season performance. In 14 post-season games, he hit .370, with 3 HRs, 10 RBI, 6 doubles, 16 runs, 14 walks, an OBP of .517, and a slugging percentage of .696.
But he was still hurting. The experienced eye of a fan could just tell. He'd take a big cut, hit the ball hard, we'd expect it to leave the park, and it'd go off the wall, or fall on the warning track. There were just certain swings that lacked that last gasp of power to lift the ball over the wall.
In 2004, Ortiz had 91 extra-basehits. In 2005, he had 88 extra-basehits. In 2006, he had 85. In 2007, he had 88. That's a very consistent range for four seasons. But in '07, Papi set a career high in doubles. Normally that's a good thing, but when you hit X amount of extra-basehits, the more doubles you hit, the fewer homeruns you hit. This was where the knee seemed to hurt his production the most.
Ortiz had surgery in the off-season to repair it. This is the first time since coming to Boston that he's come back from a major injury/surgery. It will be very interesting to see how his body handles it. So far in Spring Training, he's doing just fine.
But you never know...
Ortiz, like everyone else on Francona's squad, will not play every day. He'll probably have 150 games in total. Sean Casey is your most likely replacement DH. He's the best bat off the bench, and I guarantee Francona will find ways to get Casey a lot of at-bats.
Manny Ramirez will also see some time at DH, giving Ortiz a night off, and being replaced in left by Kielty or maybe Crisp. Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell are both potential DH candidates if Francona wants to give them a night off from playing the field.