Hey, 16 wins. Pretty good, right? Ramon Ortiz became the first Angels righthander to win 16 games since 1989, the highlight of a deceptively poor year. In an otherwise sorry offensive season, the Angels provided Ortiz with the fourth-best run support of any American League pitcher. In return, he failed to complete six innings 14 times in 32 starts. His ERA leaped from 3.77 in 2002 to 5.20 last year.
Ortiz struck out none in his one complete game, the single-most compelling statistic in noting the alarming drop in his strikeouts from 162 in 2002 to 94 last summer. He once complained, in April, of feeling "no power" in his arm, but beyond that, he and the Angels insisted no injury was evident. Nonetheless, the zip came and went on his fastball, his slider was effective but inconsistent and he had to be reminded to stop throwing his changeup so hard.
Ortiz made great strides in not letting one poor pitch or one questionable call rattle him, but he still isn't as calm as he should be when fielding, leading to needless errors. His pickoff move is better, but far from good, and even Gold Glove catcher Bengie Molina could throw out only one of the nine runners who tried to steal with Ortiz pitching.
Ortiz' father died in September after fighting emphysema for years, and Ortiz pitched with a heavy heart as the illness worsened. He vowed to dedicate the rest of his career to his late father. Ortiz, once dubbed "Pocket Pedro," is no Martinez, but can be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter when right. The Angels have a $5.5 million option on Ortiz for the 2005 season, so he must rebound this year to remain in Anaheim beyond 2004.