When the Red Sox picked up the option for 2011 on David Ortiz, it brought back questions that have been occurring over the last couple of years when it comes to his value and if next year is the year when his on-the-field production falls off the table.
Many times, Ortiz has been compared to former Red Sox All-Star and slugging first baseman Mo Vaughn and rightfully so.
- Ortiz and Vaughn both, in their own rights, are famed Red Sox slugging first basemen. Check.
- They both hit left-handed. Check.
- They are both recognized as players who led their respective teams to American League pennants. Check.
- Vaughn and Ortiz have finished in the top five in AL MVP voting at least three times. Check.
- Their career averages are 35 home runs and over 110 RBI. Check.
However, for some reason, everyone remembers how Vaughn's career ended and puts Ortiz in the same light.
Let's refresh those on what happened to the "Hit Dog."
In March 2001, Vaughn was placed on the 60-day DL due to a bicep injury after two seasons with the Anaheim Angels where he collected 69 HR and 225 RBI.
He was traded to the New York Mets and was never the same after the bicep injury.
He missed all of 2003, and that was his age-33 season. He came back in 2004 and hit 26 HR in 558 plate appearances while hitting .259. At age 35, Vaughn played in 27 games for the Mets, and his career was over.
From a statistical perspective, Ortiz is entering a critical year.
He improved last year from a power production perspective in comparison to his two previous years but is still down from his age-31 year, when he hit .332 and the Sox won their second World Series title in four years. Also, his batting average and OPS are down, as he has not had an OPS north of .900 since 2007 as well.
However, let's keep in mind that he missed more than a month in 2008 and dealt with the "rumor" in 2009, and he still produced pretty well last year and just missed getting an OPS of .900.
Fast-forward to 2011. Ortiz is entering his age-35 season with a $12.5 million deal.
If Ortiz was going to precipitously drop in production, it certainly should have happened following his age-33 year, when he hit .238 and was marred with his mention on a list suggesting that he was not "clean." Instead, he finished eighth in the American League in slugging percentage and OPS (.529 and .899) and was fourth in at-bats per home runs (16.2).
|MO VAUGHN||AGE||DAVID ORTIZ|
Vaughn, at his career pinnacle, ranged from 14.1 to 15.2 at-bats per home run, and guess what his salary was during these years? Between 2000-2002, Vaughn's average salary was $12.166 million.
If you factor in inflation, Ortiz is coming at a cheaper dollar than Vaughn did with more production even at $12.5 million.
Ortiz showed Red Sox Nation that he was worth the risk of the club picking up his option to see if he can deliver an OPS north of .900 this year during his age-35 season. He almost did it last year, and I am sure that is one of his personal goals this year while playing at least 149 games.