David Ortiz: Shift in Contact Numbers Leads to MVP-LIke Resurgence

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIJune 13, 2011

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 5:  David Ortiz #34  of the Boston Red Sox competes against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on June 5, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It is no coincidence that the Red Sox turned their season around in May, going 19-10, the same month David Ortiz hit 10 home runs and hit .342/.387/.684. Ortiz, who produced decent but declining numbers from 2008-2011, was considered to be on the downside of his career. However, fans might be surprised how the 35-year-old left-handed slugger turned this contract year around, hitting 17 home runs and producing a line of .325/.395/.624 through June 12. He is fourth in wOBA (.437), fifth in wRC+ (177) and eighth in ISO (.300).  

The most noticeable change in Ortiz's stats is the stark drop in his strikeout rate. His 2011 rate of 11.8 percent represents a career low, and almost a 10 percent drop from his career 21.8 percent rate and improvement from last season (28 percent).

While Ortiz is chasing more pitches than ever out of the strike zone (26.3 percent) and has the lowest walk rate of his career (10.2 percent), he is making contact at a greatly increased rate. He is making contact on 77.2 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (51.9 percent for his career), and 85.2 percent contact rate represents a career high and is significantly higher than his 78.2 percent career rate. Additionally, his 6.7 swinging strike percentage is another career low.

Ortiz's batted ball rates are consistent with his career numbers, and he is continuing to hit home runs with a 19 percent HR/FB ratio. His BABIP of .313 is similar to his 2010 number of .311, and it is unlikely that he will continue to keep his strikeout rate this low. However, even if his strikeout rate rises to something close to 17 percent, he should finish with a batting average above .300 and another 35-home run season.