Where Should We Target David Ortiz In 2010?

Did anyone think they would see the day where David Ortiz was sitting with an ADP of around 190?  Two years ago that would be almost unthinkable, coming off a 2007 season where he hit .332 with 35 HR.  Two years and 957 AB later, he has hit just .250 with 51 HR, sending owners fleeing.

Before we even get to his failures at the plate the past two seasons, his position causes a major concern.  Unless someone is a real slugger, it is tough to lose the flexibility of your utility spot.

If you play in the most lenient of formats, he could still have eligibility at first base (he played six games there in 2009).  In most leagues, however, that’s not the case.  When he was bashing 40+ home runs and routinely driving in 100+ runs, it was easy to justify.  Now, with that far from a guarantee, it’s not such a simple question.

Last season he hit .238, courtesy of a below average BABIP of .266.  It marked the second straight season of bad luck, after posting a .273 mark in 2008.

He struggled with strikeouts in 2009, posting an overall mark of 24.8%.  That’s above his career mark of 21.4% and his worst mark since he was getting regular playing time.  Just look at the five previous seasons:

  • 2004 – 22.9%
  • 2005 – 20.6%
  • 2006 – 21.0%
  • 2007 – 18.8%
  • 2008 – 17.8%

Before we declare him on the decline, look at his split between the first and second half from 2009:

  • First Half – 26.6%
  • Second Half – 22.6%

No, it’s not a huge improvement, but the second half is much more along the lines of what he has done throughout his career.  It at least brings a little ray of hope, doesn’t it?

Another part of his problem was his flyball rates.  While he has always been one to hit a significant number of balls in the air, he was at an all-time high last season at 50.5%.  It’s pretty simple, flyballs are less likely to fall in for hits, it’s just the nature of the beast.  If he can get his flyball rate back down, even a little bit, he’s going to see an improvement in his average.

Couple that with an improvement in his strikeout rate and a little more luck and you are looking at something usable.  I know, there are an awful lot of ifs involved there, but none of them seem overly unrealistic.

As for the power, it may just be a fact that it is not what it once was.  Since 2006 he’s watched his rate diminish each season:

  • 2006 – 26.1%
  • 2007 – 17.2%
  • 2008 – 14.8%
  • 2009 – 13.4%

While it is impossible to expect him to get back to the 2006 levels, last season’s mark put him in the neighborhood of Casey Blake (13.5%), Paul Konerko (13.2%) and Robinson Cano (13.0%).  Let’s be honest, Ortiz is a better power option than any of them, even on the decline.

While a decrease in flyballs is going to lead to less power, an improved HR/FB rate will help to offset that.  I do think it’s possible that he reaches the 30 HR plateau once again and after barely missing 100 RBI (he had 99), he could reach that mark as well.

The runs are not going to be back up to the lofty levels he has posted in the past.  He hasn’t reached 80 in the past two seasons and no longer putting up the averages he once did (and thus a lower OBP), means less runs scored.  It’s easy math.

Still, with the potential to post a usable average and plenty of power, I do consider him a steal where he is currently going (the end of the 15th round).  Would I draft him much before that?  Probably not, but if I have secured the pitching and speed that I need, if he is sitting on the board around the 14th or 15th round, I think he’s a perfect selection.  You are likely going to get significantly better value than that, even if he isn’t the player he used to be.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think Ortiz could rebound from the past two seasons?  Where do you think he should be drafted?

Check out some of our early 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

2 comments

  1. I’ll only have Papi if he heads into the season healthy. Otherwise, I’m sure someone would snag him before I’d be willing to.

  2. Dave says:

    Yahoo eligibility is only 5 games started, so Big Papi makes First Base even deeper. He’d be a decent UTIL / backup 1B in the middle rounds.

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