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Through 99 at bats, David Ortiz is batting .172 and battling pain in his knees. With a start like this one for Ortiz, you have to wonder how much longer he can still be dominant.
Against all odds, Ortiz is on pace for a productive season. By projections on average, Ortiz is still on route to score 102 runs, hit 25 home-runs, and get 127 RBI. So, there is no reason he couldn’t recover his averages and still be his old self. But, it might be time to consider that Big Papi is running down.
With big men like Ortiz, weight and age are a big factor. At 32, Ortiz weighs in at a listed 230 pounds. His legs have already started to show the toll as he underwent knee surgery last off-season. He has complained about pain all this year, and recently aggravated his knees sliding headfirst into first base. This problem could be a season-long one. Without your legs in baseball you can’t swing through the ball, and your swing can’t be what it could potentially be.
According to Baseball Prospectus 2008:
“The knee problems he played through are a major concern for a player who carries a lot of weight…”
It’s an obvious point, but don’t just take my word for it.
The problem is you need to have your whole body work for you with your size and still be able to hit a baseball on the dot. If you get slower or your body doesn’t work as smoothly, that effects your hitting. This gets exaggerated in big guys.
A similar player to Ortiz is 31-year-old Travis Hafner, who is going through this big body syndrome right now. Three years ago he was at the top of the league in batting with Ortiz. Last year his playing health and body caught up to him and his numbers plummeted. He wasn’t able to make contact and hit for power like he used to. This year he is off to an even worse start (.210 AVG, 3 HR, 16 RBI).
Carlos Delgado, 36, is another guy who has gotten too old and is too big to keep up his numbers. He’s off to yet another cold start: .194 AVG, 3 HR, 12 RBI. The 6’3″, 264-pound Delgado will never Del-got-it again. He’ll never regain his 40-HR, 140-RBI form just because he’s succumbing to to old age.
This year may be the year Big Papi, David Ortiz, starts his decline. Only time will tell.