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« Good Process | Main | Lester's Fastball Issues »

David Ortiz's Hidden Decline

Over the last three seasons, David Ortiz settled into a lower but still productive offensive level compared to his peak.  He suffered a bad month at the start of the 2010, but recovered to post a good year.  His averages, in fact were comparable to his 2008 numbers after dropping more in 2009.

Do not be fooled too much, however, as one area showed steady decline over the last two seasons.  In 2008, David seldom swung and missed at pitches in the strike zone:

David Ortiz swing and misses, 2008.He had a little trouble with pitches away, but most of the misses came on hard to handle pitches down or up and outside.  In 2009, more misses started to creep in:

David Ortiz swing and misses, 2009.Ortiz during this season did a better job of not missing pitches low, but increased the number of pitches he missed in the zone.  In 2010, the hot spots grew even more:

David Ortiz swing and misses, 2010.There's now a very good chance that a pitcher can get David on the outer half of the plate.  If he takes, it's a strike.  If he doesn't he misses often.

Ortiz posted his two highest single season K totals the last two years.  He bounded in 2010 due to a very low BABIP in 2009 (.262 to .313).  If the swing and misses continue to grow, however, pitchers will be more willing to challenge him in the strike zone.  That may lead to more Ks, and David will need to maintain a strong BABIP to cover his decline.

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