As the Boston Red Sox started their most recent playoff run Thursday night against the Cleveland Indians, David Ortiz started his last.
The heralded Red Sox slugger announced before this 2016 season started that he will be retiring at its conclusion, however that may end up for the Red Sox. Don’t look at this as a negative thing though, Ortiz and the Red Sox are individually and collectively enjoying the best season in recent years, a resurgence for both entities of sorts.
Ortiz, 40, is having one of the best seasons in his future hall-of-fame-to-be career. It really has been a mystifying experience for not just Red Sox fans, but for all baseball fans, watching him go out in supreme style. To be honest, it’s kind of eerie how it’s all coming together.
I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen this story before with legendary players riding off to the sunset as champions. Most recently, we watched Peyton Manning do it with the Denver Broncos last season. We also saw another legendary Broncos Quarterback do the same in 1998 as John Elway led his team to Super Bowl glory in his final season. The thing is, it’s never look quite like this before. Nobody has ever been THIS good in their “last season.”
Michael Jordan would have finished at the top of his game if he had stuck by his 2nd retirement after winning the NBA title in 1998. However, he came back to play a third time and retired in 2003 as a pretty good player in NBA standards, but a shell of himself in Jordan standards.
What Ortiz has done this regular season and what he looks to continue to do this postseason is something we’ve never seen.
Via Ben Cosman/MLB.com: “In fact, the only two players since 1901 to have greater oWAR in their final seasons were Shoeless Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch in 1920 — whose farewells were not quite under the same circumstances as Ortiz’s. It’s fair to argue that Ortiz had the best season by a retiring player, at least at the plate, ever.”
Ortiz’s regular season stats are as follows: .315 (batting average), 38 home runs, 127 RBI’s, .401 (on base percentage), .620 (slugging percentage), and a 5.1 (Wins above replacement).
His 38 round-trippers are the most for a player all time in his final season. His 127 RBI’s are the most all time by a player in his final season. Most importantly, his WAR, which is a measure of a player’s total contribution to his team compared to a player who would likely replace him, is also the best ever final season number at 5.1.
What has this meant for the Red Sox?
Well, his stats, along with just the mystique of this being his last season, has easily been a main factor in why they captured the AL East crown, a division that boasted three teams in the playoffs this year. On Tuesday night, the Toronto Blue Jays battled the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild card play- in game with the Blue Jays winning off an Edwin Encarnacion walk-off home run. It’s also likely that this same mystique will deliver a couple more magic moments on the road to Ortiz winning his fourth World Series with the Sox.
Clutch moments in huge playoff games are what Ortiz has made his career out of. Whenever the Red Sox have need a game winning or go ahead run, Ortiz is likely the guy that stepped up to the plate and delivered the knockout blow.
If you need a reminder, check this one out:
It would only be fitting if Ortiz concluded the greatest final season of the greatest Designated Hitter of all time with a walk off home run in Fenway Park to give the Red Sox the World Series title so that he, like Manning and Elway, can ride off into the sunset.
Before those dream- visions though, he must first get past the Cleveland Indians in this Divisional Round playoff series.
We can’t help but to dream though, I mean, it has already been a dream season not only for him and the Red Sox, but for us as baseball fans.
Good luck this playoffs Big Papi. Even as a Yankees fan, I hope you do hit that World Series walk- off… It would only be right.
Are you a fan of David Ortiz? What do you think is his most memorable play in his career? Let us know here, or find me on Twitter @phenombc3