Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/22/13
When Adrian Gonzalez first came to Boston at the start of 2011, one of the first things fans noticed was the effect he had on David Ortiz. Somehow in his 15th and 16th major league seasons, Ortiz put up his two best single-season strikeout rates, 13.7% and 13.3%, respectively. Whether or not that truly was Gonzalez’s doing is moot; the former slugger is now an all-around hitter.As of February 21, 2013, Sox manager John Farrell said Ortiz was still about a week away from seeing at-bats in spring training, but I have faith that Ortiz will work his way back into the lineup on Opening Day. Designated hitter isn’t exactly the most physically demanding position in baseball, and though it does require running, Ortiz won’t have to concern himself too much with conditioning in the early going. As long as he’s healthy and he can swing the bat, he’ll be in there from Game 1.At a GlanceStrengths: HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSNeutral: RWeaknesses: SB, healthPlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Prince Fielder (DET)Likely scenario: Allen Craig (STL), Pablo Sandoval (SF), Freddie Freeman (ATL)Worst-case scenario: Adam LaRoche (WAS) or injuredDavid Ortiz 2013 Fantasy ProjectionBoston has had a difficult few years with their medical staff, but wholesale changes were made this offseason. Will that mean players get hurt less often and heal more quickly (i.e. on schedule)? That’s impossible to know. Ortiz’s advanced age makes full injury recovery a dicier proposition to bank on, but even in just 90 games last year he was able to score 65 runs, hit 23 homers, and bat .318. A full season at that pace would have ranked inside the top 25.We project 143 games from Ortiz this season. He’ll probably sit in the majority of games in National League Parks, but that’s only a handful of games for the year, and the team will still work his bat into the lineup in two or three of those games (in spite of his glove).Thankfully Ortiz has first base eligibility this season so you don’t need to worry about losing your coveted roster flexibility by drafting him as a utility-only player, and assuming he works himself back to moderate health I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue the same disciplined approach he’s show for two straight seasons. Ortiz spits in the face of common knowledge surrounding baseball aging and could potentially be a great contributor in batting average and an above average source of runs.While I love Ike Davis and Adam LaRoche a first base targets after the big names are gone, Ortiz can contribute the same type of power numbers with around 10 more runs and 20+ more points in average. Plus he kicks butt in OBP.
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