Writing for WEEI, Alex Speier on the latest crackpot theory regarding the struggles of a certain Red Sox slugger ...
- Even with his current six-game hitting streak, Ortiz is now hitting just .197 with two homers, a .288 OBP and .308 slugging percentage. His struggles have been so pronounced that questions about whether the accuracy of his listed age of 33 have become commonplace.
An article in Sunday's New York Post offered a perspective that is not uncommon in scouting circles.
"He's a 40-year-old man who can't play anymore,” the article quoted an anoymous scout as saying. "The chances of his birth certificate being accurate are zero ... That's both birth certificates. Remember, he was David Arias [when he played in the minor leagues for] Seattle.”
Ortiz is aware that some are questioning who he is, and more particularly, how old he is. He is unsurprised by the phenomenon, given his familiarity with the phenomenon of Dominican players who forge their dates of birth to improve their potential signing bonuses.
Speier explores this notion in some great detail, in what's a fine piece of journalism.
Here's the thing. I don't think that Ortiz is lying about his age. Even if he's lying, he's probably just one year older than he says. Or two. Or maybe, at the absolute most, three ... Which would mean he's actually 36 right now. Not exactly old age in baseball terms.
Yes, we've all read that players of Ortiz's particular "build" don't age particularly well, and we're reminded of Boog Powell and Mo Vaughn and I suppose a few others. But even if we wouldn't expect a barrel-chested slugger to perform brilliantly into this middle 30s, that does not mean we would expect one to suddenly, utterly stop hitting.
Two years ago, Ortiz led the American League with a .445 on-base percentage. His .621 slugging percentage was pretty good, too. One year ago, Ortiz got off to a lousy start, then things picked up, then he went on the DL for a couple of months, and when he came back in late July he seemed fine (if a bit underpowered).
So we're supposed believe he went straight from good to practically unplayable simply because he's a year or three older than we thought? I'm sorry, but "Papi lied" is just way, way too easy an explanation. Which I suppose would be fine if it actually made any sense. Except it doesn't.