There is no doubt that David Ortiz is the best designated hitter in the game. The guy can flat out rake. He is batting .371 with an on-base percentage of .426 and a slugging percentage of .670. Unlike a couple of years ago, there seems no safe place or way to pitch him. He is quick inside again. He works the count to his favor. He is just a great hitter. But there is only one other thing he can do to help his team as a DH. Run. The guy can't run. In fact, he runs like Walter Brennan.
And David Ortiz is supposed to be in the best shape of his life. At least that is what the spring reports told us. And that great work Ortiz has done has seemed to do wonders to maintain his acumen at the plate. But did he forget his wheels? From a personal standpoint, it is well known here what a 56 year old man runs like. Ortiz runs like that. The legs are moving, but they aren't going anywhere. There is a hitch and a giddy-up in the attempt. Ortiz looks like that. Take the eighth inning of last night's game with the Baltimore Orioles. The game went thirteen innings before the Red Sox succumbed to the Orioles. Watch this play:
Cody Ross stings the ball toward short on a line. But Hardy made an unbelievable dive and catch. David Ortiz had started running. He tried to get back to first. It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Double play.
Yes, a player is a DH because he can't do much of anything else. David Ortiz might still have a first base mitt around somewhere in case there is an interleague game, but he isn't expected to use it more than once or twice a season. Broken wheel guys like Vlad have manned the DH position since the Rico Carty days. But Ortiz has never had a leg injury. He hasn't blown out his knees. He just can't run. In fact, since 2002, only Konerko has a worse base running score on Fangraphs than David Ortiz. Since that season, Ortiz's base running has cost his team 44.6 runs. That is like 4.4 lost wins in that time frame.
And not only can David Ortiz not run. He can't slide either. To prove that point, this post will leave you to one of our family's favorite all-time plays. We laugh about it to this day. And here it is. If the embedded video doesn't work, click the link. David Ortiz is the bomb as a hitting DH. There is no other weapon in baseball like him at his position. But gosh, the guy cannot run...or slide. It is almost embarrassing.