Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Veteran hitters going in opposite directions

If you just look at David Ortiz's percentages, as you well know, you'll still think he's having a terrible season. He's hitting .213 (92nd in the American League) and OBP'ing .310 (76th in the American League) and slugging .370 (84th in the American League).

But Ortiz has, over his last 14 games:
* A .333 batting average
* A .447 on-base percentage
* A .769 slugging percentage
* Five home runs
* Nine RBI
* Nine runs scored

If he were to keep up that type of pace for the rest of the season, he'd finish the year with 39 home runs and 90 RBI.

He's not going to keep up that pace for the rest of the year, of course. But there's a big reason you don't hear any more talk about Nick Johnson or anyone like that: Big Papi isn't just pulling his weight. He's hitting like Big Papi again. The home run he hit through a driving mist into the second row of the Green Monster seats was as hard-hit a ball as you'll see all season.

"He feels like he's hitting the ball well -- and he looks like he's hitting the ball well," outfielder J.D. Drew said. "He's squared up a lot of pitches, and he's gotten some big hits. Just leave him alone and let him play, and it'll work out well."


Jason Varitek felt so good about the two doubles he'd hit off Derek Lowe on Saturday night that he forgot he doesn't like to talk about his own hitting.

"I've hit some balls hard over the past week, 10 days, and haven't had the results," he said. "Maybe I didn't hit a ball as hard as hard and got a result. It's a crazy game."

The veteran catcher will take anything he can, of course. But you can't help but wonder if that big day -- aided by the fact that the official scorer didn't penalize Garret Anderson for a ball that deflected off his glove in front of the Green Monster -- was just a brief reprieve. Even with that big day, he's hitting .186 and slugging .390 over his last 18 games. That's not a good sign for a guy who started last season with quite a bit of promise, too. Check out these numbers:

April-May: .272/.353/.470
June: .122/.205/.176
July-September: .217/.322/.343
ALDS: .214/.214/.214
ALCS: .050/.174/.200

April-May: .239/.327/.522
June: .190/.320/.333

Terry Francona gave Mike Lowell back-to-back days off over the weekend to give the veteran infielder a chance to rest his sore hip. Particularly with the way George Kottaras has been hitting of late -- .355/.382/.581 in sporadic duty over the last month -- it might be worth giving Varitek a few more days off than he's been getting.

As John Smoltz has said so often, it's not about one or two games in June or July with this team. It's about October.

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