Ortiz looked inside to regain HR touch
July, 4, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Kyle Terada/US PresswireDavid Ortiz is the latest among a list of notables to hit a miletone home run on July 4th.
David Ortiz hit his 400th career home run in Wednesday's loss to the Oakland Athletics, becoming the 49th player in major-league history to reach the milestone, and just the sixth to hit his 400th while wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform.
Ortiz’s march up the record books comes in a season that is of historic significance for a player age 36-or-older.
Through Boston's first 82 games, Ortiz is on pace for 43 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .302 batting average. Those numbers, at his age, would put him in rare company. Only four players aged 36 or older have hit .300 with 40 home runs and 100 RBI in a season : Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, and Andres Galarraga.
Ortiz is also on pace for 91 extra-base hits. That would easily be the most ever for an AL player 36 or older. Hal McRae, who had 81 extra-base hits in 1982 at age 36, currently holds that distinction.
Ortiz’s great season is even more significant considering that his career appeared to be in a freefall when he hit career homer No. 300 in 2009. He finished that year with a career-worst .238 average, but has hit .292 since then.
The biggest difference in Ortiz's performance from then to now is that Ortiz is doing a much better job of turning around on inside fastballs.
After hitting .178 and slugging .367 on heaters located on the inner third of the zone or further inside in 2009, he has hit .324 with a .702 slugging percentage on those same pitches since the start of 2010.
His nine home runs on fastballs on the inner-third of the plate (or closer to him) are one more than he had in all of 2011.
His 11 home runs this season against inner-third-or-closer pitches are second-most in the majors to Ryan Braun's 12.
Is 500 Possible for Ortiz?
So now that Ortiz has reached 400, what are his chances of joining the more exclusive 500-homer club?
Of the 25 members of the 500 home run club, Williams reached 400 at the oldest age, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He was a month shy of his 38th birthday at the time of number 400, and then hit 121 more after that. Ortiz, who is still five months shy of turning 37, is the next oldest.
This wasn't the first time that a player hit a milestone home run on July 4th. Mickey Mantle (1960), Willie Mays (1961), Albert Pujols (2008), and Adam Dunn (2009) all hit their 300th home run on this date.
Not only did Ortiz swat his 400th home run in the fourth inning Wednesday, he walked in his next plate appearance-- for the 1,000th base on balls of his career.
He's the sixth player to reach the 400-homer and 1,000-walk plateau in the same season, joining Jimmie Foxx, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Dave Winfield, and Mark McGwire, but he's the first of the six to do so in the same game.