David Ortiz scores DH honor in twilight of career
On Tuesday, news of Ortiz’s planned retirement at the end of the 2016 season leaked. One day later, it became official that the all-time leader in homeruns (449) and RBIs (1,451) at the DH position has plans to hang up his batting gloves in a year.
With Nov. 18 marking his 40th birthday, “Big Papi” posted a video on the Derek Jeter-operated Player’s Tribune website saying that now is the time for the announcement:
“I thought a lot about it. For every single one of us, athletes-wise, we run out of time at some point and life is based on different chapters and I think I am ready to experience the next one in my life.”
After being signed by the Seattle Mariners in 1992, the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins as a 21-year-old first baseman in 1997. But it wasn’t until he joined the Boston Red Sox in 2003 that he became a household name.
Posting a .288/.369/.592 slash line with 31 homeruns and 101 RBIs, in his first year in Boston he finished fifth in the AL MVP race. One year later, after further improving his production, he became an integral part of a Red Sox team that broke the 86-year World Series drought in Boston’s South End.
The nine-time All-Star finished as high as second in the AL MVP race (2005) and in the Top 10 six times, the same number of times he claimed the DH Silver Slugger Award.
Along with high water marks at the position in home runs and RBIs, “Cookie Monster” has also amassed the greatest number of at-bats (8,268) and hits (2,208) as well as a career-high in slugging percentage (.554).
In his video, Ortiz addressed his individual achievements as well as the fans that were treated to them:
“I’m really proud of what I had accomplished through the years. I’m very thankful for having fans like you guys who have support me through my career.”
When discussing his career numbers, though, one would be remised to leave out his postseason production. The high-pressure success Ortiz reached earned him another of his nicknames – Señor Octubre.
In his postseason career, Ortiz boasts top-ten all-time spots in doubles (4th, 21), RBIs (5th, 60), homeruns (7th, 17), base on balls (7th, 57), runs scored (9th, 51) and hits (10th, 87).
One of the most productive postseason performers in the long history of MLB and the most productive designated hitter to ever grace a big league diamond, “Papi” offered a closing thought for fans of his Sox and the entire league:
“I wish I could play another 40 years … After next year, time is up. So let’s enjoy next season.”
An elongated list of personal and team success have made Ortiz one of the best players in this era.
The fact that he has won the award given to the best player of his position than its namesake is Exhibit A in the case to have earned the naming rights of what is currently known as the Edgar Martinez Award.