Is it time to sell high on David Ortiz? 

June, 9, 2011
You probably know how good St. Louis Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman has been this season. Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko was awesome in 2010, and he has been even better this season. But check out the ESPN Player Rater and you'll see Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who has destroyed New York Yankees pitching this week, right there with these guys as a top-20 hitter. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the top three DH-eligible hitters in baseball, and while you might have guessed all three could have big seasons, I'm sure you didn't think they'd be top-20 hitters!

Ortiz is hitting .323 with 15 home runs and 34 RBIs, a tasty pace for 40 long balls and 90 RBIs. Only one time in his career has Big Papi hit better than .301, and he last hit 40 home runs in 2006. And looking closer at his numbers, this doesn't look fluky or unsustainable. Ortiz hit 60 home runs the two previous seasons. His main problems appeared to be awful slow starts to the season and an inability to be competitive at the plate against left-handed pitching. Well, Ortiz did struggle this March/April, but not like previous seasons; he hit .267, drew plenty of walks and hit a few home runs. It could have been worse. In the first month of 2010, he hit .143, and fantasy owners were ready to give up on him.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
Al Bello/Getty ImagesDavid Ortiz, 35, is currently on pace for 40 homers, 90 RBIs and 98 runs.
Against southpaw pitching, Ortiz is doing strong work this season, though 63 at-bats isn't enough of a sample size to call him safe. Ortiz is hitting .349 with a 1.026 OPS against lefties, including home runs in the late innings of games against the threesome of Darren Oliver, Hisanori Takahashi and Will Ohman. Also, a third of Ortiz's home runs have gone somewhere other than right field, which is another nice sign that he's not trying to pull everything. I would stop short of saying Ortiz is a new hitter, but he's certainly not regressing.