On to the pitchers… Okay, Ortiz won 21 games last year. But it was actually a pretty typical Ortiz season: 212 1/3 IP, medium number of strikeouts (149), far too many walks (102 to lead the league), ERA a little better than average (ERA+ was 109). He’s had five major league seasons, and in four he was basically the same pitcher.
Now, that has a lot of value. Pennants are lost every year that would have been won if the team had a guy who could throw 210 pretty-good innings. But an ace? A Cy Young candidate? Come off it. He won 21 games last year because the Braves had the best offense in the league. The Braves need an ace, but I don’t see Ortiz stepping up. He is what he is, a good pitcher who simply doesn’t have the strikeout/walk numbers to be a great one.
Ortiz needs 12 wins for 100 in his career, 139 strikeouts for 1000… The similarity scores say that the most-similar pitcher to Ortiz is (and has been for several years) Bartolo Colon, but Colon’s spent most of his career in the AL. Colon has a 3.86 career ERA, compared to 3.97 for Ortiz — but Colon’s is 21 percent better than league, Ortiz’s 2 percent. None of the pitchers on Ortiz’s list strikes me as a really good comp… A free agent after this season, and I don’t know what the Braves will do. If the budget stays about the same they might re-sign him, but more likely he’s going to leave. It might come down to Ortiz or Drew. Do you take the guy you know is going to be above-average, or the guy who might be a star if healthy?