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Entries in David Ortiz (25)


David Ortiz Connecting on Fastballs

Pundits have predicted David Ortiz's demise for years now, yet the 35-year-old Red Sox slugger is enjoying a vintage Big Papi season in 2011. After tallying two more hits in Boston's 14-5 drubbing of the San Diego Padres last night, Ortiz is batting .323/.402/.604.

Ortiz has turned the clock back by hitting for mammoth power while also paring his strikeout rate dramatically. He has punched out in just 11.1 percent of his plate appearances this season, compared to 23.9 percent in 2010. The biggest reason that Ortiz has cut his K rate by more than half is that he's connecting on -- and crushing -- fastballs.

Take a look at Ortiz's contact rate against fastballs in 2010 and 2011: 

Ortiz's contact rate on fastballs in 2010 

Ortiz's contact rate on fastballs in 2011

He's making more contact across the board, but the biggest change is that he's connecting far more often on fastballs located in the upper third of the strike zone. Overall, Ortiz has missed 10.9 percent of the fastballs that he has swung at. Last year, Ortiz missed fastballs 22 percent of the time that he pulled the trigger.

Ortiz isn't just putting the bat on the ball against fastballs -- he's annihilating them. Ortiz's .817 slugging percentage versus fastballs dwarfs the .431 major league average for non-pitchers and trails only New York's Curtis Granderson among all MLB hitters. Ortiz slugged .608 against fastballs in 2010.

 David Ortiz may be in his mid-thirties, but he's far from finished. His monstrous year at the plate has pushed the Red Sox to the top of the American League East standings and positions him for a handsome payday in free agency this winter.



Arguing the Strike Zone in the A's-Red Sox game

Last night, both Jason Varitek (BOS) and Jonathan Papelbon (BOS) were ejected in the top of the ninth inning for arguing the strike zone with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo.  Varitek was ejected first after a Cliff Pennington (OAK) double that cut the Red Sox lead over the A's to two runs.

First, let's look at all the called balls Papelbon had from the game:

10 Pitches (Click image to enlarge)

And here's Papelbon's called ball rate heat map from that ninth inning which incorporates all the pitches he threw:

28 pitches (Click image to enlarge)

Other than that one spot middle-down, Randazzo really didn't miss any called strikes.  And as for that missed strike call?  Well, it was the third pitch of Landon Powell's plate appearance.  Papelbon had him 0-2 and that should have ended the atbat.  But it did little to effect the inning because he eventually struck Powell out swinging on the 7th pitch.

Kevin Youkilis also gave Randazzo a hard time after the ump rang the Red Sox third baseman up on a Brad Ziegler (Oak) curveball in the 8th inning.

(Click image to enlarge)

Ziegler started him out with two sinkers, and finished with two curveballs which both caught the outside of the plate, the last well within the pitchFX defined strike zone.

Ironically, one of the biggest missed strikes from last night came while Youkilis batted in the 4th inning.  Oakland starter Trevor Cahill threw him a 3-2 curveball that seemed to land right in the middle of the plate, yet was called ball four.

(Click image to enlarge)

Cahill's sixth, and last pitch of the AB looks to have caught more than enough of the plate, but Randazzo didn't see it that way.  The first pitch, a changeup, was also called a ball by Randazzo, but appears to have caught the corner.  Cahill would get David Ortiz (BOS) to hit into an inning ending double play two pitches after walking Youkilis, however.  So much like the missed called strike to Powell in the ninth, no harm done.


David Ortiz Versus Lefties

Today Sean McAdam posted an interesting article on regarding David Ortiz and his success versus LHPs. Here is an excerpt:

The three homers off lefties represent one more than Ortiz hit all of last season against lefthanded pitchers. He's done more damage against lefties in 55 at-bats this season than he did in 185 at-bats through the entire 2010 season.

"I guess everybody was questioning me hitting against lefties,'' said Ortiz. "I've said before, most of the time when you struggle against lefties, you're getting yourself out. You're chasing (pitches) out of the strike zone. That's pretty much what they try to make you do -- chase out of the strike zone. When you force them to stay in the strike zone, you've got to take advantage of it.''

It's a great read so we thought we would follow up with some graphics that help visualize David's success.

A comparison of David Ortiz and his In Play SLG versus lefties during the first half of the 2010 season (left image) as well as his In Play SLG vs. lefties so far in the 2011 season (right).You can follow Sean McAdam on Twitter @Sean_McAdam.