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|David Ortiz has drastically reduced his strikeouts this season -- just 46 so far. Last season, he struck out 145 times.|
“3) During Ortiz's miserable starts, he complained that pitchers were pounding him inside. Harper, invoking the old Ted Williams technique of imagining the strike zone as a grid made up of baseball-width zones, said what happened is that Ortiz stopped laying off the two "baseballs" farthest inside, and was jamming himself. Once he got back to taking those pitches, Harper said, and focused on the "baseballs" farther away from him, he became a much tougher out again. Harper also noted how Ortiz is making much better contact by hitting to the opposite field. Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of his performance this season may be the dramatic reduction in his strikeouts. Last season, Ortiz struck out 145 times, a career-worst once every 3.6 at-bats. This season, Ortiz has whiffed just 46 times, or once every 6.9 at-bats. At that rate, he would finish the season with 77, by far the lowest number he has had in a full season. According to FanGraphs, the biggest drop in strikeout percentage since 2000 (minimum 500 plate appearances) was by Manny Ramirez, who went from 23.7 percent to 16.4 percent in 2002. Well, if Ortiz maintains his current rate, he'll go from 23.9 percent in 2010 to just 12.7 percent this season, a drop of 11.2 percent, compared with 7.3 percent for Ramirez. And Manny was just getting back to his normal strikeout levels; this is foreign territory for Ortiz. "Hitting is a fascinating thing,'' Harper said. "You try to simplify it. But it's never that easy.'' Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
David hasn't lost it. He's not physically hurt, he's still quick, and he's in decent shape for a big guy. It's all technique.” -- Tommy Harper, hitting consultant for the Red Sox