David Ortiz isn’t playing baseball again. Know that. Accept it. That won’t change.
With the Red Sox signing Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez set to DH against every right-handed pitcher, he’s pretty much the guy who is supposed to be the David Ortiz of this lineup. He’s supposed to be a big power bat. He was a great friend of David Oritz. But here’s a key fact to remember, he’s not David Ortiz — nor will he ever be Big Papi.
Hanley had a pretty great year last year, hitting .286 with 30 home runs and an .866 OPS. Here’s the problem, though: he mashes left-handed pitching. He hit .268 with 19 home runs and a .796 OPS in 422 at-bats against righties last year. In contrast, he clobbered 11 home runs and hit .346 with a 1.097 OPS in 127 at-bats against lefties last season.
Let’s assume he’s not going to be as productive at the plate and his splits won’t be as drastic. Even so, the average OPS for a DH is .780. And since Hanley is only going to be DHing against righties, his weaker split, he should be a tick above average, but not much better in the role. Assuming his defense is about the same as it was before, then he’ll be a really productive first baseman. So yes, he should take care of business.
Its’s not all bad though. Pablo Sandoval can help supplement the loss of Ortiz if he does what he’s done in the past. How so? He could be a big upgrade over Travis Shaw at third base, who, as I mentioned so many times, was the worst offensive third baseman in the American League (among qualifiers) from about Memorial Day onward last year.
Hanley’s injury history should be a concern though because the Red Sox depth is putrid this season so if he goes down, DH would become a black hole. Seriously, Blake Swihart would probably be their best replacement option. That’s saying something.