I had to get up early today to drop my car off to get some work done and listened to sports talk radio on the way.
The topic — of course — was David Ortiz. One of the hosts mentioned that Ortiz hit 27 home runs after June 6 last season and the other dismissed it, saying Ortiz hit his home runs against bad pitching and bad teams.
So that got me thinking. Did he in fact hit his home runs off bad pitching?
First stop was the Baseball-Reference.com home run log for Ortiz. Here’s the team breakdown for those 27 home runs:
Playoff teams (5)
Other teams that had winning records (7)
Assorted bad teams (15)
Blue Jays 3
White Sox 3
Then I looked at the individual pitchers. Ortiz hit those 27 home runs against 24 pitchers, having connected twice against A.J. Burnett, Jeremy Guthrie and Jair Jurrjens.
So many of those pitchers were bums? I decided to use ERA+ as a rough guide. For my purposes, anybody below league average was considered a “bum” and anybody above league average was considered “good.”
You can argue the merits of any individual pitcher. But ERA+ is a solid stat. Obviously in some cases, we’re talking about a small sample size. But that’s all we have to work with.
Based on that statistic, Ortiz hit 15 home runs off good pitchers and 12 off bums.
A.J. Burnett 2
Jair Jurrjens 2
Jeremy Guthrie 2
I would say that a few of the good pitchers are actually bums but some of the bums are actually pretty good. But it probably evens out.
Is Ortiz finished? That’s up to Terry Francona and Theo Epstein to decide. They have more information and a better idea than anybody else.
But the idea that Ortiz did all his damage last season against bums is not true and that suggests he deserves more than a handful of at-bats before any judgment is made.