David Ortiz has played 19 seasons in his lengthy career: six with the Minnesota Twins and 13 with the Boston Red Sox. Five separate times Big Papi has been in the top 5 five of the MVP vote but has never won the coveted individual award. While the MVP has avoided him, the All-Star game definitely has not. Ortiz has been to 9 All-Star games in his 19 years along with 6 silver slugger awards. But what he will cherish over anything else in his career, to this point at least, is his 2004, 2007, and 2013 championship rings.
He’s as much of a team player on any, as he proved throughout his career. In December 2002, the Twins GM at the time Terry Ryan made a decision he would soon regret. Terry Ryan released Ortiz before an arbitration hearing, mainly because they couldn’t find a place for him in the starting lineup with the 1B and DH spots filled in front of him. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein signed Ortiz on Jan. 22, 2003. A big part of that signing was the backing of Boston pitching phenom Pedro Martinez. Ortiz later that same year his a low, rising bomb off Pedro. He couldn’t forget that bomb. So when Pedro heard of Ortiz’s release, he knew to talk to Theo Epstein to go and get him.
And boy did it pay off. In Ortiz’s first year in Boston he his a slash line of .288/.369/.592 (Batting Average/On-base %/Slugging %) and finished 5th in the MVP voting. He didn’t stop producing there either, the next 4 years after that he finished top 5 of the MVP voting again. In that 5 year stretch, the Red Sox broke their infamous Curse of the Bambino and won the 2004 World Series. The same year they became the only team in history to come back from a 0-3 deficit in a 7 game series against the rival Yankees in the ALCS.
Last season, Big Papi’s numbers were a little low but by no means was it a bad year by the 39 year old. The fact that he is still a huge bat and significant contributor to a major ball club is a testament to his work ethic and desire to be the best. Going into his last year, at age 40, expect it to be somewhat like Derek Jeter’s farewell tour. Both him and Jeter were huge figures in their generation of baseball.
To one more year Big Papi. We’ll miss you.