Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has been on an absolute tear since the beginning of August. Call it the Yoenis Cespedes effect.
Ortiz entered Sunday ranked second in the American League in OPS (1.042) since Aug. 1. He ranked third in slugging percentage (.603), fifth in on-base percentage (.440) and eighth in average (.342). It’s no coincidence that Ortiz’s hot streak has coincided with the addition and the emergence of Cespedes in the middle of the Red Sox’s order.
“I had (Adrian) Beltre for one year, but he had a good year because they pitched around me and he benefited by that,” Ortiz told The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo this weekend in St. Petersburg. “(Mike Napoli) did a good job last year, but they still pitched around me to get to him.”
“I’ve seen better pitches to hit (with Cespedes). He’s a really good player and a threat. Looking forward, it’s going to be fun next year having him there for the whole year. He makes me better. He makes Nap better. He makes everybody better.”
Cespedes has excelled since being acquired from the Oakland Athletics on July 31 in exchange for ace Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. He has driven in a team-high 22 of Boston’s 104 runs scored (21 percent) since joining the club Aug. 2, with nine RBIs giving the Red Sox a lead. Only Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has more go-ahead RBIs (10) in that span.
If this is what Cespedes can do while adapting to a new team, there’s no telling what the 28-year-old outfielder might be able to accomplish in 2015. That’s the way Ortiz is looking at it.
“I talk to him a lot and he’s a good kid who really wants to help this team win. He gets it. He’s a good teammate. He doesn’t feel like he knows it all and he’s always willing to learn something,” Ortiz told Cafardo. “That’s why I think he’s going to be a 30 (home run)-100 (RBI) guy for a long time. He’s a powerful guy. He’s not someone pitchers like to see coming up to the plate. He’s the kind of hitter that can win games with one swing and he’s been doing that for us. I think he’s going to work out great here.”
It’s obvious the Red Sox’s offense became much more dynamic after the club acquired Cespedes, even if the unit still occasionally struggles to score runs. As such, it’s easy to see why the Red Sox were willing to part ways with Lester, who still, in theory, could return to the Red Sox in free agency this offseason.
“It was a good baseball trade. … Even-Steven I would call it,” Ortiz told Cafardo. “One thing you’re going to know is one side (Cespedes) is going to be here, but on the other side, Lester is going to be in a shuffle somewhere else. At the end of the day, we won the trade. We still have the chance to get Lester this offseason because Oakland isn’t going to be able to re-sign him.
“If you look at it that way, we won that trade. (Cespedes) made their whole lineup better and he’s made our whole lineup better. The minute he left they stopped hitting over there. One way or another, he made their lineup better and he made our lineup better. That’s a fact. If you don’t have anyone hitting well behind you, you’re not going to hit.”
Ortiz has shown no signs of slowing down in his age 38 season. His age 39 season might not be much different now that Cespedes is onboard.
Photo via Twitter/@collinsz10