Papi raved about Gonzo's hitting knowledge all last year. At one point, he said he learned more from Gonzo in just one year than he did from Manny in seven (wrap your head around that). Gonzalez basically just told him to stay on top and inside the ball. Well, Papi absolutely mashed lefties last year compared to what he had done the year prior and pretty much throughout his entire career.
Seeing the title, I assumed that the drop in Ortiz's K rate would relate to his 2011 success against lefties. But the blog does a great job in pointing out that the drop was essentially equal against both righties and lefties. He also posted Ortiz's K rate chart from Fangraphs, which paints a nice picture of how '09 and '10 were really the outliers, particularly '10. The biggest change in '11 was his overall success against lefties all around.
Interestingly, but perhaps insignificantly, Ortiz's best years (since joining the Sox) have correlated with batting order stability -- meaning that Ortiz's best years happen to be the years where he is essentially plugged into the batting order in a particular spot and not moved around. In addition, since '04 the spot in the order where he spent the most games ended with the best results.
In '04, he had 91 games batting 3rd and 51 games batting 4th (with 8 games in other line up spots) -- putting up better numbers batting 3rd.
In '05, he had 124 games batting 3rd and 33 games batting 4th (2 games in other spots) -- putting up better numbers batting 3rd.
From '06 - '08, he essentially only batted in the 3rd spot.
In '09, he had 40 games batting 3rd, 23 games batting 4th, 56 games batting 5th, 24 games batting 6th, and 7 games batting elsewhere -- putting up the best numbers batting 5th.
In '10, he had 49 games batting 3rd, 46 games batting 4th, 32 games batting 5th, and 17 games batting in the bottom 4 spots of the line up -- putting up the best numbers batting 3rd (well, really 6th, but not that many games there).
In '11, he had 22 games batting 4th, 108 games batting 5th, and 16 games batting either 3rd, or in the bottom 4 spots of the line up -- putting up the best numbers batting 5th.
I'm not suggesting that there is necessarily a reason for this, it simply struck me as coincidental. I'm sure some of it has to do with protection within the line up or other factors, but perhaps Ortiz finds some comfort in routine within a season. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into something before I go to work.