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David Ortiz: 2012 in Review

November 29, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
A.J. Vanegas has pitched very well for the Stanford Cardinal.
Opting to go to Stanford instead of turning pro has worked out for RHP A.J. Vanegas so far.

For several years now, we’ve been amazed that David Ortiz just keeps going and going and going, having long ago written him off as a Mo Vaughn who would have a short career peak and then quickly fade into obscurity because of injuries caused by his rotund body type.

Um, ya. About that.

Big Papi enjoyed a major bounce back season in 2010, was even better last year and was heading for one of his best years ever in 2012 before an Achilles’ injury decimated his second half.

The last time we checked in on his injury situation in a mid-August Podcast we joked that while he was under orders not to do any running at the time, you had to wonder if that changed anything given that it’s pretty rare footage to see the big man sprinting around the bases at the best of times.

After the season, the Red Sox re-signed Ortiz to a two-year, $26-million deal (with a chance to earn another $4 million in incentives) – a clear sign that they plan to retool and try to contend again as soon as possible.

The injury limited Ortiz to just 90 games – his lowest since 2001, when he was still with the Twins. Even so, he still piled up an impressive 65 runs – even more amazing when you consider that Boston was missing plenty of its big guns offensively last year. Ortiz was highly productive when he was healthy and enjoyed his best OBP since 2007. In fact, the burly DH was headed for his best overall season in five years before getting hurt. That 2007 season was Ortiz’s best in Boston, even though two years earlier he wound up finishing second in the MVP race for his highest placement ever.

Looking forward to 2013, the fact that he’s going to stay in Boston and not take his bat elsewhere is great news for both Ortiz and his Fantasy owners. This year, he put up a ridiculous 1169 OPS at Fenway – over 300 points better than what he managed on the road. He’s been a much better hitter in Boston for many years now, but it was more pronounced than usual in 2012.

Ortiz managed a WAR of 3.0 despite missing almost half the season and that has to tell you that even though he just turned 37 a couple of weeks ago, he still has plenty left to offer.

He’s been a long time leader in the Red Sox clubhouse – more so than you’d expect from a player that sits on his ass half the game – so bringing him back to the fold was an important move for Boston.

Sure, Bobby Valentine questioned Ortiz’s commitment to the team. But Bobby V. did a lot of douchy things before he got run out of town. Ortiz remains one of the most dangerous left-handed sticks in the game, and a player that other teams have to come up with a battle plan to beat.

It’s hard to believe that Big Papi so vastly outlived Manny Ramirez in Boston – and has remained as relevant as he has.

We have to start considering him among the greatest Red Sox players ever and start sizing up his Hall of Fame chances. This year, Ortiz passed 1,100 runs, 1,800 hits, 400 homers, 1,300 RBI and 1,000 walks. He raised his career BA to .285 and his career OBP to .380 with a slugging percentage that’s knocking on the door of .550.

Working against him, obviously, is the fact that he failed to gain acceptance as an everyday player in Minny for several years, only truly coming into his own after joining the BoSox in 2003. That’s really hurt his ability to put up elite career numbers. And oh, there’s still that whole DH bias, which we believe is a pretty convincing argument working against offense-only dudes being Hall of Famers.

Quick Hits

  • Heading into the season, we ranked Chad Billingsley 70th in our Starting Pitcher Rankings. How good a call was that? He wound up perhaps slightly better than that and if not for an elbow injury that caused him to shut it down early, he would have been even better. Unfortunately, by opting to go the rehab/rich platelit plasma injection route instead of Tommy John surgery, Billingsley will be a huge risk for 2013. Every time his elbow barks, owners will wonder if TJS is around the corner. Two DL stints in 2012 alone and a frustrating sense that we haven’t yet seen him reach his potential will make Billingsley a very tough pitcher to own next year.
  • A.J. Vanegas’ decision to spurn the Padres after they took him in the seventh round in 2010 to attend Stanford instead has turned out well so far. He enjoyed a nice freshman season with the Cardinal, posting a 3.35 ERA with a 1-0 record, pitching mostly out of relief. This year, the 6’3” righty was even better, again failing to lose (4-0), getting more of a chance to start and also his first opportunity to close games. Vanegas also looked very impressive in the Cape Cod League this summer. If he can continue to improve next year, chances are, he’s put himself in position to be late first round pick in next June’s draft. Vanegas could also be one of those college relievers that whip through the minors and get to the Show super quick, so bear that in mind if you’re in a keeper league.

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