September 15, 2016

Jayson Stark: Is David Ortiz Having The Greatest Farewell Season Of All Time?

Jayson Stark asks: "Is David Ortiz Having The Greatest Farewell Season Of All Time?"

I'm not trying to tl;dr this article, but Yes. Yes, he is.
Nearly 19,000 men have played baseball in the major leagues. I've decided that their careers all had one thing in common: Not one of them had a final season as spectacular as the grand finale currently being crafted by a man named David Americo Ortiz Arias.

Which means it's time to begin actively debating a question I don't ask lightly: Is this the greatest "retirement season" in baseball history -- or even sports history? It just might be. ...

Here's my all-time ranking of baseball's top five finales. You'll see what I mean:

1. David Ortiz, 2016
2. Ted Williams, 1960
3. Sandy Koufax, 1966
4. Barry Bonds, 2007
5. Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1920 ...

Highest OPS in final season (min. 350 PA):

Player        Year  Age    OPS   PA
Ted Williams  1960   41  1.096  390
Barry Bonds   2007   42  1.045  477
Joe Jackson   1920   32  1.033  649
David Ortiz   2016   40  1.020  557 [updated through 9/14]

• No player in history has led the major leagues in slugging or OPS in his final season (min. 400 PA). With less than three weeks to go, Ortiz leads in both.

• No player has ever led the entire sport in extra-base hits in his final season, either. Ortiz ranks first in that department, too (tied with Brian Dozier).

• No one since 1920 has even hit 40 doubles in his final season. Ortiz is on pace to hit 50.

• Only one player in history (Dave Kingman) has ever hit 30 home runs or more in his final season. Ortiz is on pace to hit 37. (Editor's note: Kingman hit 35 homers in 1986, but did it in a season in which he contributed so little else that his slash line was an ugly .210/.255/.431/.686. Ortiz is at .314/.400/.619/1.020 [updated thru 9/14].)

• If Big Papi keeps mashing at his current rate and finishes with those 37 homers and 50 doubles, he would be the 12th player in history to reach both of those plateaus in a season. He's 40. All of the other 11 did it before they even turned 30.

• Add up all those extra-base hits and you'll find a man who is on pace to finish with 88 of them. Since 1921, know what the current "record" is for a player in his final season? Would you believe 62, by Kirby Puckett?

• And we haven't even gotten into all the stuff Ortiz has done at age 40 that no 40-year-old had ever done. But let's just hit you with this: No one else in history had ever had a 30-homer, 100-RBI season at age 40 or older. Ortiz reached those milestones back on Aug. 24 -- with nearly six weeks to go in the season.

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