July 26, 2022

One (Big) Reason David Ortiz Will Always Be *The Man*

David Ortiz was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Before Big Papi's big day, everyone was asking him about his speech.

My agent, everybody was asking me about the speech, and this and that, like I've never talked before. I'm like, "All I'm going to talk about is what I know. Relax." It was fine. It was good that I was left for last. That made it a little easier . . .

Ortiz spent the final 14 years of his 20-year career with the Red Sox. It's a bit weird to think that his first year in Boston (2003) was already his seventh major league season.

Some of his career numbers: 541 home runs (17th all time), 632 doubles (12th all time), 1,768 RBIs (23rd all time), 1,319 walks (T-41st all time), and 2,472 hits. He drove in 100+ runs ten times. For five straight seasons (2003-07), Ortiz finished in the top five of the American League MVP voting (5, 4, 2, 3, 4). 

He went out on top. In his final season, at age 40, he led the major leagues in slugging (.620), OPS (1.021), and doubles (48). He tied for the AL lead in both RBI (127) and intentional walks (15). And he hit .315, the second-highest full season average of his career.

No one who witnessed his postseason heroics -- most of all in 2004, but also 2007 and 2013 -- will ever forget them. To paraphrase Lester Bangs: "We will never agree on anything as we agreed on David Ortiz."

The Large Father's ability to deliver in walkoff situations was uncanny. Here's one bit of evidence:

From the 2004 postseason through July 2006, there were 13 games in which Ortiz batted with a chance for a walkoff win. In 19 plate appearances, he reached base 16 times! He batted .786 (11-for-14) with 7 HR and 20 RBI.

Flo came through with the game-winning hit in 11 of those 13 games. In the other two, he walked. (In other words, the three outs he made over that span all came in games he later won with a hit.

Here are the 13 games and Ortiz's 19 plate appearances:

October 8 (ALDS 3)  - Game-winning home run
October 17 (ALCS 4) - Popped up, game-winning home run
October 18 (ALCS 5) - Struck out, walked, 
game-winning single

June 2       - 
Game-winning home run
August 30    - Walked
September 6  - 
Game-winning home run
September 16 - Intentionally walked
September 29 - 
Game-winning single

June 11      - 
Game-winning home run
June 24      - 
Game-winning home run
June 26      - Grounded out, walked intentionally, 
game-winning single
July 29      - Walked intentionally, 
game-winning single
July 31      - 
Game-winning home run

I watched every one of those games live, and yet as I'm typing this out, I'm still having a hard time believing this actually happened. It was an jaw-dropping stretch of clutch hitting we will absolutely never see again.


FenFan said...

It's interesting that we had Pedro for seven seasons, and Papi for 14, and they only played together for two (2003 and 2004). So you had almost 20 years of two of the best to ever don a Red Sox uniform going out there for every start and being beyond amazing. For me, the best part is that I joined my season ticket group in 1998, just as Pedro's Red Sox career started, and my first game was his first start for Boston in Boston, and even at that moment, I could tell that he was special.

Paul Hickman said...

The Large Father will always cast a Large Shadow ...... particularly in October