David Ortiz has gone from Big Papi to Little Papoose. There was concern about Ortiz as the season started and it looks like the concern was well placed. Ortiz, who had wrist problems last year and saw his OPS dip from over 1 to .877, currently sits with an OPS of .484. He is striking out at an alarming rate and has one extra base hit all season long.
The Fan has long had a theory that those big boned players like Ortiz only have a shelf life of about 8 to 10 years. History is littered with the Mo Vaughans and Ron Kittles of the world and Ortiz has that body type. What has to be frustrating to the Red Sox brass is that the guy only gets paid to hit and he is hitting in the number three slot as always and has been a big, empty void for the team thus far.
Ortiz has now played in 12 games and has 47 At Bats. He has only 8 hits and only one of those was for extra bases (a double). He has struck out 14 times. If you look at his career, he has struck out about 21% of the time. This year he is percentage points away from 30%. If you look at his splits, he is faring worse against right handed pitching than he is against lefties and is only batting .160 against them (.222 against lefties). He has struck out 36% of the time this year against pitchers throwing right handed. That isn't right.
Ortiz started slowly last year too and only batted .198 in April, but if you go back and look at that month last year, he only struck out 18% of the time. And he had seven extra base hits including five homers. There is still a chance for him to hit four homers in the eleven days left this month, but it doesn't look promising at this point.
The Red Sox had better hope that he is just in a funk and that it isn't physical. They need him in the middle of that lineup. And if he doesn't pull out of it soon, it will put the team in an awkward position of having to decide whether to sit him when he is one of the most popular players on the team.
The Red Sox have a history of knowing when to dump a player who is declining. Either they didn't see this coming or they had an idea but were hoping they were wrong. His start has to make the team uncomfortable and the team has to hope he starts hitting in May like he did last year and stays healthy all year. If he does not, uncomfortable moments lie ahead.