David Ortiz, 3 years after the fall

David Ortiz / Presswire

In the 2009 season, David Ortiz went homerless all the way up until 3 years ago today, of May 20th. Up until that game, for the season he was hitting .203/.317/.293. Yikes.

Lots of people, including me, said that he was D-U-N done. He certainly looked done.

Since May 20th 2009, though, Ortiz has been anything but done. In 446 games and 1847 plate appearances (3 full seasons over 3 full calendar years) he’s hit .285/.375/.543 with 98 HR and 311 RBI.

Over the 3 full seasons 2009, 2010, and 2011, two other players–Adrian Gonzalez and Paul Konerko–have exactly 98 homers themselves. Only 6 players (Albert, Prince, Tex, Ryan Howard, Miggy, and Gonzalez) have at least 98 homers and 311 over that same period.

Apparently, rumors of Ortiz’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

29 thoughts on “David Ortiz, 3 years after the fall

  1. 1
    Hartvig says:

    I do have to admit that I was also one of those people. And I continued to think that into the following year when he started slowly again. It took until around the All-Star break or even long for me to admit that maybe I had been mistaken.

    But for at least a season and a half or so, every time I looked at him all I could think of was Mo Vaughn.

  2. 2
    Neil L. says:

    “Apparently, rumors of Ortiz’s design were greatly exaggerated.”

    Andy, you meant demise instead of design? 🙂

  3. 3
    Neil L. says:

    Andy, why were there so many boos from Red Sox fans for David Ortiz over the time period your post covers?

    You have large Bosox awareness, so was it just a case of Fenway patrons being, ….. well, Fenway patrons?

  4. 8
    Andy says:

    Thanks for the corrections.

    What do people think about photos like this? I love them, but are they taking up too much space?

    I’m really not aware of the Fenway booing for Ortiz. I think people were pretty unhappy about him busting in on Francona during the press conference, which immediately preceded the team’s freefall last year. But in general, Papi is well loved in Boston.

    • 9
      bstar says:

      I love the photos, Andy. They add yet another interesting aspect to the site.

      While I may have your attention, any possibility that you might give the chat function another try? The great thing about it was I actually got to know Neil, JA, Evan, etc. better as people. I understand it was causing problems, but is there any way you could set it up for special “chat nite” sessions or anything like that? If not, I understand.

    • 24
      John Autin says:

      Although I’m a text-based life form myself, I like the photos in general. But I like them better when they illustrate a point or (like the Jemile Weeks wig-out shot) are just fascinating in themselves.

      For instance, a photo or two showing clearly how much slimmer Papi is this year than at his bulky peak would be great.

  5. 12
    Neil L. says:

    Why is Jose Bautista not on your list, Andy? He has 107 HR from May 20th, 2009 through the end of the 2011 season, doesn’t he?. Ahead of the names you list.

    Please give the man his due.

    Was part of your blog dropped?

    • 13
      bstar says:

      Neil, Senor Bats doesn’t have enough RBI to qualify.

      • 14
        Neil L. says:

        Ah, thank you, bstar. Missed the RBI cutoff in Andy’s blog.

        I, too, miss the live chat, but I understand Andy’s concern for the greater good of the site.

        I would have loved to talk John Autin down from the ledge, in live chat, during the bottom of the ninth today after FF put the first two runners on and then struck out Encarnacion, Arencibia and Thames with pure smoke.

        • 15
          Andy says:

          Also, this entire site is called a blog. Individual entries are called posts, not blogs.

          • 16
            Neil L. says:

            I’ll try to get it right, Andy. I never really understood the comment/post/blog nomenclature.

        • 25
          John Autin says:

          Neil, nothing would have kept me from bailing on that 9th.

          BTW, great quote from double-F after the game, when asked why the Toronto crowd booed him so much: “Because they love me, and I left.”

          Now there’s a positive-thinking practitioner!

  6. 18
    Jameson says:

    I seem to recall hearing something about Papi needing contact lenses or snapping out of his slump after getting them. A quick google search did not turn up anything credible on the subject. Does anyone else remember a cause given for his decline at the plate?

  7. 19
    Jason Z says:

    I don’t remember any cause given for his decline in early 09.

    I do know that I thought there was no way he would be back in
    Boston after 09. I thought he was done. Boy was I wrong.

  8. 20
    Hartvig says:

    I remember people talking about a loss of bat speed but I don’t remember who said it or even if it was anyone who was really in a position to know.

    • 21
      Andy says:

      I think that was me, in my original “David Ortiz is done” post for the B-R blog. He was very heavy that season (he’s MUCH lighter this season) and was looking extremely slow at the plate and otherwise. I think I was basing it off comments I heard on telecasts and sports radio.

  9. 22
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    Does anyone here believe that Ortiz is starting to approach serious HOF consideration? With his age 34-36 resurgence, he’s nearing some career milestones such as 400 HR. He’s got a good peak and some great game highlights, the sort of storylines that the writers love, in particular the whole “clutch” thing.

    OTOH, his HOF case isn’t quite as good as Edgar Martinez, who’s barely above 35% after three years on the HOF ballot. That “DH penalty” is rather severe. I think he’d need at least two more good years beyond this one to have a decent case, but baseball has not been kind to players of his body type/skills.

    • 23
      Ed says:

      Testing positive for steroids plus being a DH torpedoes any chance Ortiz might have had.

    • 26
      JR says:

      If he didn’t use roids, he may have had a shot.

      • 27
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        #23,#26 –

        He probably won’t be eligible for HOF voting for about 10 years, so BBWAA thinking may evolve since then. Plus, MLB issued some disclaimer on his positive test, I don’t recall precisely what, so he may not be hurt as much by that.

        Even minus the PEDS,I don’t think he’d have much of a HOF shot, unless he plays forever (age 40+), which seems very unlikely. Fred McGriff had a similar batting record through age 35, played another 5 years and over 550 games, but is only at 23.9% BBWAA vote after 3 years on the HOF ballot.

        • 28
          Mike L says:

          The Ortiz steroids saga is completely atypical of anything else we have seen. Both the MLB and the MLBPA initially rushed out to defend him, warning that any conclusions reached about the 104 names on the Mitchell Report list who allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 may be subject to conjecture. Ortiz then put out a statement saying he would clarify things, and then all went silent. MLB just fired the Braun case arbitrator, Shyam Das, who had been on the job since 1999, so we know Bud can have a heavy hand when he wants to. Why Ortiz got the kid glove treatment (he did admit to using supplements) and Braun didn’t is something we will never be told.

          BTW, on the merits, I don’t think Ortiz quite gets to the Hall.

          And, for the Onion’s take,

          • 29
            ccv707 says:

            McGriff isn’t in YET, but I believe he’ll be in eventually. The same goes for Edgar Martinez, who should be in also. These two seem to be analogous to Ortiz in many ways, so I think following their positions on the ballots over the next ten years–about the time Ortiz will be eligible for the Hall–might give us a general idea how he will eventually fare.

            In terms of his numbers, if he plays another 5 years (a reasonable number, I feel) and continues on his trend from the last few seasons, with the obvious decline that’s sure to come at any point, 500 HRs might not be entirely out of the question. He’d have to have at least two more pretty big years (~30 HRs, ~100 RBIs), including this one, to get close. That would also put him over 1500 RBIs after the 5 year window is through, maybe close to 1600, and roughly 1300-1500 runs, not to mention ~2500 hits, ~1200 walks, and ~600 doubles. Those are HoF numbers in most people’s books, I’d say. Even if he finished with fewer than 500 HRs, say somewhere around 475, all the other numbers would stand, and I’d say he gets in, probably not first ballot (considering the DH and whatever Mitchell Report controversy BS), but eventually.

            Interesting, and somewhat surprisingly, all these projections could also work for considering Paul Konerko, being the same age as Ortiz but already with over 400 HRs and similar numbers in most other categories other than doubles (accounting for the lower career slugging percentage). The major difference with him, of course, is that he plays defense. No gold gloves, but definitely an underrated defender.

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