How Should The Cardinals Deal With David Ortiz?
David Ortiz has had a great World Series. Okay, that’s probably an understatement, but it will have to do because I can’t do his performance justice. The Boston Red Sox DH/1B has put together a 733/.750/.1267 line. Oh, one of those outs was a home run that Carlos Beltran robbed with a sensational catch in right center. Ortiz reached base nine straight times between Games Three and Five, a World Series record.
Given that the Cardinals have only succeeded in retiring him five times, how should they go about pitching him in Game Six, and if they win, Game Seven?
First, let’s look at Ortiz’ best hot streaks over the course of his career. Here are the five best stretches of at least four games that Ortiz has put together over the course of his 17 year career. The list is sorted by OPS, which is somewhat of a blunt instrument, but will do a respectable job for this type of inquiry.
1. August 3-7, 2003: .571/.625/.1786, 4 HR.
2. September 25-28, 2007: .733/.789/.1600, 3 HR.
3. August 12-16, 2005: . 579/.600/.1526, 5 HR.
4. June 15-18, 2003: .545/.722/.1364, 3 HR.
5. July 29-August 1, 2006: . 588/.650/.1294, 3 HR.
So Ortiz has been very hot before. Now let’s see how he did in the next two games following the hot streak.
1. August 8, 2003 (Doubleheader): 1-8, BB, 4 K.
2. September 28-30, 2007: 3-6, HR, 2B, BB.
3. August 17-18, 2005: 1-8, BB, 3 K.
4. June 19-20, 2003: 0-6, SF, BB, 3 K.
5. August 2-3, 2006: 0-8, BB, 4 K.
In total, Ortiz was 5-36 in the games following his hottest streaks, with 14 strikeouts. His batting line was .139/.238/.250.
Does this mean that David Ortiz will be awful the next two games? No, I can’t jump to that conclusion. However, it should demonstrate that hot streaks (and cold) have little to no predictive value. In the games following the hottest streaks of his career, David Ortiz has hit more like Brendan Ryan than vintage Barry Bonds, or even regular David Ortiz.
David Ortiz is a very good hitter. Still, it would be dangerous for the Cardinals to treat him as superhuman going forward. If they do, they might end up doing something like issuing him an intentional walk with a runner on first and two outs. Oh wait, that already happened. That didn’t end too well for the Cardinals.