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October 22, 2013

Advance Scouting Series

David Ortiz

by Tim Steggall

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Advance Scouting Report

Filed by: Tim Steggall

Player Name: David Ortiz

Context: 9 games, 9/14/13 – 9/24/13

PA

AB

H

1st P

K

BB

TB

Hard

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

TOTALS

39

34

9

14

8

5

17

15

.265

.359

.500

.859

Sample vs. Season:

Slightly lower offensive stats in the sample compared to the overall season. Mostly the result of bad luck - .321 BABIP on the season vs. .292 in the sample. Also struck out at a slightly higher rate in the sample – 1.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio as compared to 1.15 for the year.

SCOUTING BREAKDOWN

Physical/Health:

Every bit of his listed 6’4, 250. 37 years old, 17th year in the big leagues. Still has exceptional strength. Has played in 135+ games in 2013. Has never been in outstanding shape. Has dealt with injuries the last few seasons, but has been healthy this season since returning from a foot injury in April. Not much flexibility. Recently played first base in Colorado.

Hit Tool

Grade: 7. Elite hit tool with elite bat speed. Swings hard – gets his best swing off at least once every AB. Pronounced leg kick and major hip torque, but shows outstanding balance, timing, and repeatability. Rarely takes a bad hack. Hands stay back and explode through the zone; stays behind the baseball. When he does get fooled, does not slow his bat down. Very comfortable in the batter’s box, stands on the plate and dares pitchers to come inside. Selectively aggressive/disciplined approach. Very good knowledge of the strike zone, rarely chases; will mostly lay off located pitches away early. Wants to pull; wants the ball down and in. Can drop the barrel on anything in the bottom half. Will pull off/get around pitch located away on occasion; will try to hit through the shift. Enough bat control to beat the shift when the situation calls for it; will go the other way with RISP or against LHP. Does not shorten up with two strikes, but shows ability to battle. Can handle velocity. Does have some trouble staying on top of pitches in the top part of the zone.

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

Does not see LHP as well as RHP. Tends to stay on the ball longer against LHP; not quite as pull happy – stays inside it to fight off sliders. Much more willing to stay middle and go oppo. Looks for the pitch away. Should face LHP late in games or in big situations.

Sees RHPs exceptionally well (1.090 OPS on the season). Wants to pull. Rarely puts a bad swing on a RHP; lots of contact. Can handle velocity. RHP breaking balls move into his bat path.

Notable At-bats

Date

Description

9/15/13

First inning vs. Nova. With a runner on 2B, Ortiz takes a fastball for strike one down and in – a pitch he would usually put his best swing on. On 0-1 takes a fastball away and hits a routine groundball through the empty left side for easy RBI.

9/17/13

Eighth inning vs. Matusz. While the AB ends in a strikeout, exemplifies certain characteristics. Works count to 3-2, seven-pitch AB. Gets three “A” hacks off. Shows knowledge of the strike zone. Will swing through LHP fastball in the zone.

9/19/13

First inning vs. Tillman. Eight-pitch AB, works a walk with RISP. Fights off tough pitches. Shows his plate discipline; would have been easy to fall into swing mode.

Power

Grade 7. While no longer a 50-HR threat, Ortiz still shows top-of-the-line power. Hits everything hard; consistently barrels baseballs. Home run power is primarily to pull side; can pull most anything in the bottom half of the strike zone. Can drive any pitch type, including plus velocity. Will go to the opposite field on occasion; extra bases are common when going the other way due to defensive shift vacating much of left field – this is an acceptable outcome. Utilizes the Green Monster effectively.

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

Power not nearly the same vs. LHP. Stays with a middle/opposite-field approach unless pitcher makes mistake. Only six home runs vs. LHP this season. Care still required, but can be challenged.

Must be very careful with Ortiz, over .650 SLG vs. right handers in 2013. Consistent hard contact, primarily to his pull side. Almost seems like pitchers are trying to find his barrel.

Notable At-bats

Date

Description

9/14/13

Third inning vs. Sabathia. Attacks first-pitch fastball in bottom half of the zone and drives it to left field for an RBI double. Stays inside the baseball.

9/22/13

Sixth inning vs. Dickey. Non-traditional pitcher, but Ortiz attacks first-pitch knuckle down and in and hits it into the seats. His second AB of the day is also great example of Ortiz’s ability to stay behind the baseball and use the whole field.

Speed/ Baserunning

4.73 to first. Rarely runs hard on groundballs, most times doesn’t even make it to first base. Bottom of the scale runner when he does push it. Station to station.

Conclusions and Means of Attack

At 37 years old, Ortiz is still one of the game’s premier hitters. Finished this season top five in OPS. As a pitcher/defense, you must decide what you are willing to give up, what is the best case scenario if he beats you.

Demolishes right handed pitching. While he has trouble consistently squaring pitches in the top half of the zone or in under his hands, these pitches are tough to execute and misses will be punished. RHPs must work to get him off balance; hard in off the plate/soft away is good. Steady mix away. All pitches must be executed. Nibbling resulting in a walk may often be best-case scenario.

Should face a LHP in any major situation; not as consistent or dangerous. Much more average hitter. Wants to stay middle away so he can stay on off-speed. Has shown the bat control to stay inside the baseball and go the other way vs. LHP at the expense of consistent power. Will swing through fastballs in the zone, and has trouble consistently squaring baseballs. Has hard time staying on sliders away. Can challenge him in. Finish with breaking balls away, or set up to finish hard in/up.

Defensive shift is still necessary. While Ortiz has shown he can go the other way, he still drives the majority of baseballs to the right side. Allowing the occasional single through a deserted left side is a fair trade for the number of outs recorded by the third baseman playing in shallow right field.

Matchup Stats at a Glance

First Pitch Swing

14/39 = 36 percent

Bunt Threat (Sac, Push, Drag)

Will show occasionally against shift. Let him have it.

Defensive Positioning

Shift, only shortstop on left side of infield. Shift at your own risk with RISP.

Outfield

Deep to pull.

Splits

vs. LHP

.260/.316/.406

vs. RHP

.335/.439/.655

Tim Steggall is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Tim's other articles. You can contact Tim by clicking here

Related Content:  Scouting,  Advance Series

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