It looks like David Ortiz – “Big Papi,” as he is so affectionately known in Boston – will retire after 2016. Expect the coming baseball season to be a year of celebration for one of the iconic baseball players of the past 15 years.
What has been most amazing about David Ortiz’s career is his success since joining the Red Sox in 2003. Remember, he spent the first six seasons of his major league career with the Twins. He seemed like a solid player, but not spectacular. And that’s no small sample size. For all the world, it looked like Ortiz would spend his major career as a platoon player or an extra roster piece.
Then he went to Boston, and something happened.
In Ortiz’s three years as a regular before leaving Minnesota, he hit 48 home runs total. Amazingly, In his first three years in Beantown, he hit 119 (almost 2.5 times as many over the same span). As the sluggers who made baseball so much fun in the 1990’s faded, Ortiz stepped in to take up the baton passed from stars like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Barry Bonds.
Despite stretches where Ortiz appeared to suffer the physical breakdowns that afflicted so many of the other promising sluggers of his era – like Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi – he remained productive. He’s ninth all time in home runs hit after turning 30, putting up numbers comparable to the likes of Bonds, Palmeiro, McGwire, and Sosa.
As a player who spent much of his career as a key element within a heated rivalry, Ortiz has his detractors, opposing fans, and other negative voices. Results speak for themselves, though, and Big Papi’s results speak positively.