Big Papi Gets the Squeeze: Calls Already Mounting For Slugger’s Ouster

Filed in Featured, Sports by on April 8, 2010 1 Comment

David Ortiz may need a ton of Vitamin Water if he hopes to return to his old, elite form (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Baseball, more than any other sport, perhaps more than any other profession besides politics, is constantly beleaguered by the question, “What have you done for me lately?”

In a game where statistics are sacred, where every piece of data is scrutinized, analyzed, and categorized, a player’s poor performance cannot go unnoticed. So when high profile, highly paid players find themselves in a funk, they can also be guaranteed to find plenty of people foaming at the mouth for their ouster and, were it legal, public humiliation via the stocks.

Such is the unfortunate situation David Ortiz finds himself in. Once the face of Red Sox Nation thanks to his clutch hitting and walk-off heroics during Boston’s two recent title runs, Ortiz’s production has dropped off dramatically since 2007. Over the first two months last season, he hit no home runs and reached base maybe seven times. While he ultimately recovered, ending the season with 28 homers and 99 RBI, there were plenty of people raving early on that he was over the DH hill.

This year, Ortiz is again off to a miserable start—he has one hit in eleven at bats, and has stranded seven of eight runners in scoring position. Not surprisingly, the drum beat to replace him is mounting already, especially with Mike Lowell and his reliably productive bat warming the bench. It’s as if fans and the media have been waiting all winter for Ortiz to start slow, and now, with the first glimpse that that may be the case, they’re calling for his ouster from the lineup and possible banishment from Fenway.

It’s too easy to seize such a small sample as proof of a player’s unremitting decline into ineptitude. Streaks are an integral part of baseball, whether it’s DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, or an All-Star’s uncharacteristic hitting drought. Brandishing any selective sample is scientifically baseless; players often have streaks where they hit .500, only to level their average with a slump later on.

While Ortiz is an easy fall guy for the Sox recent woes, it is unfair to say he should get the boot so early on. He’s certainly past his prime, and there are indicators that he won’t be as productive as Boston needs him to be if they hope to contend this year.

Still, it is way too early to write him off entirely. As he proved down the stretch last year, he can still be a valuable asset to the team. The same could be true this year, so long as he’s given a chance to prove it.

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  1. Lillian says:

    The “What have you done for me lately attitude” is not just a dynamic of the baseball crowd. Boston fans(me included) tend to be tough on our sports stars. Sadly it tends to be a love – hate relationship here in Boston…

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