Are the days of dominance over for David Ortiz?
David Ortiz used to salivate at the idea of facing a soft-tossing right-hander like Casey Janssen. These days however, all he can do is shake his head in disgust after another night without a hit. The Red Sox visited the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday night, the first of a three game set between these AL East rivals.
The Red Sox for years have boasted one of baseball's foremost offensive machines, and Big Papi has been a centerpiece since he came over from Minnesota in 2003. In his years as one of Boston's favorite sons, Ortiz has averaged 33 HR and 123 RBI, also recording a batting average over .287 in all but one of his seasons as a member of the Sox.
There was writing on the wall last year that Ortiz's reign as one of the American League's top sluggers was coming to an end. He was plagued by a painful wrist injury, which undoubtedly affected his statistics.
Papi hit only .264 in 109 games during the 2008 season, and had an OPS of .877, a far cry from the 1.000+ seasons in 2005-2007.
Fantasy owners who drafted Ortiz attributed much of his disappointing 2008 campaign to his injury troubles, but perhaps there is more to the story than just the wrist ailment.
In lieu of Papi's former slugging partner Manny Ramirez's suspension for performance enhancing drugs, one must wonder if Papi partook in the same type of activities.
Of course, age can also take a toll on a hitter like Ortiz. We have seen in the past with larger fellows like Albert Belle and Mo Vaughn that the decline can come fast. Ortiz, at age 34, simply cannot keep up with heaters like he used to due to dwindling bat speed.
Despite a sub-.200 average and only 1 HR in 2009, we must remember that Papi still does reside in a tremendous lineup, so once he gets back on track, the RBI opportunities will be there for him. For those who used a high draft pick to select Ortiz, it has no doubt been difficult to see one of your top picks languish to such a degree, but on the bright side, it really can't get any worse.
Stick to your guns, put Ortiz on your bench, and hope and pray that he can get back to even .250 levels, because if he can, he will still be a very solid source of RBI.