Biggest Papi

In a World Series where no one else on either team is hitting all that well, David Ortiz has put up an eye-popping OPS of 2.017. (Getty Images)

In a World Series where no one else on either team is hitting all that well, David Ortiz has put up an eye-popping OPS of 2.017. (Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS — The World Series is not decided, though the Boston Red Sox took a big step towards that with a 3-1 victory in Game 5 on Monday night.

But it would be hard to seriously dispute that the Most Valuable Player in this series has already been selected: David Ortiz. No matter who wins.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented, but it’s only happened once before: Bobby Richardson managed to win the 1960 award, even though his opposite number at second base, Bill Mazeroski, clubbed the series-winning home run. But Richardson had 11 hits and an OPS of 1.054.

David Ortiz’s 2013 World Series laughs at the paltry production from Bobby Richardson in 1960.

“Speaking of clutch hitting with David Ortiz,” David Ross said at his postgame presser, “what planet is that guy from?”

Here are the numbers for Ortiz in this world series after Monday night: 733 batting average. .750 on-base percentage. 1.267 slugging percentage. That’s good for an OPS of 2.017. His first-inning single put the Cardinals behind to start, quieted the Busch Stadium crowd. Ortiz made it feel like the Cardinals were trailing all night in a game they were in most of the way, and in a series that was tied.

His manager, John Farrell, wouldn’t put the MVP tag on him just yet.

“He’s having a great series,” Farrell said after the game. “The one thing we won’t do is get too far ahead of ourselves, whether that’s what we achieve collectively, or what any individual’s performance suggests. But he’s in a really good place, obviously.”

This absurd stat line would stand out in any series, but in a pitching-intensive battle like this one, the numbers are even more stark. On the team leading this series, Ortiz’s slugging percentage of 1.267 leads the runner-up, Xander Bogaerts, by 855 points. The Red Sox overall are at .205/.268/.317.

And while Holliday has hit well for the Cardinals, his OPS is a solid 1.000, or less than half of Ortiz’s.

Should Ortiz go hitless over the final two series games, he’s still a good bet to finish with a batting average of well above .400.

But there’s no real reason to expect he will. When Adam Wainwright got him out, finally, he looked to the sky, as if thankful for a higher power than even Ortiz. The Busch Stadium crowd roared as if Wainwright had stopped a rally. But there’d been no one on base.

I asked Ortiz if he ever remembered being locked in like this.

“I did it like 20 times this year,” a smiling Ortiz said, drawing laughter.

“That pretty much sums it up,” Jon Lester, sitting next to him, added.

“I was born for this,” Ortiz concluded.

It’s probably worth pointing out that even with the excellent season Ortiz had, he didn’t do this 20 times, or even once. He managed a top OPS in any five games of 1.600, from April 25-30, according to Even in his best OPS season of 2007, the best five-game stretch he had, OPS-wise, was 1.653, from September 11-16. And the year he hit 54 home runs in 2006, he had that April 8-13 stretch, which checks in at a paltry 1.646 OPS.

So if this isn’t Ortiz’s best five-game stretch, it’s certainly not far off. And it’s coming in the World Series, when no one else on either team is hitting much. It’s even more remarkable in context.

As Ross noted, he’s even doing it with the masterful Yadier Molina calling pitches to try and stop him.

“As a catcher, I actually have a lot of respect for Yadier Molina,” Ross said. “I sit and watch and try to see what he’s going to come up with next…Is he going to keep trying to find holes? Or just go safely off or away? I’m watching what Yadi is doing. And they’ve tried a lot.

“David’s just — he’s just — he’s David Ortiz,” Ross concluded. “That says enough.”

Everyone is watching Ortiz, just as intently as Ross is watching Molina try to grapple with him. And if it feels like you haven’t seen anything like this before, you haven’t.

The World Series is still very much up for grabs. The Most Valuable Player award, however, is not.

30 thoughts on “Biggest Papi

  1. I could see Jon Lester getting MVP:

    Before game 6, Napoli disappears into Boston’s “mystery spot”, and Ortiz must play first base. Ortiz ends up going 0-5 with 5 double-plays grounded into, and 6 errors at first base.

    Before game 7, Peavy is made to think he is a chicken due to a bad hypnotist, Doubront is knocked unconscious by Breslow after an argument at Cask n’ Flagon, Tazawa takes an overdose of nerve tonic, resulting in an extreme case of gigantism, Workman is arrested and put in prison for various unsolved murders he did not commit, Breslow is too busy rescuing a woman and her possessions from a fire, Lackey is kicked off the team by Farrell due to sideburns only he can see, and Uehara is hospitalized due to radiation poisoning from the plant.

    In game 7, Ortiz goes 0-5 again but it doesn’t matter: Jon Lester pitches a perfect game on two days rest, despite Ortiz committing three errors on dropped foul balls.

    • Funny… if anyone around the pitcher commits even so much as a single error, an eventual no-no is not a perfect game… Remember: no errors, no walks, no hit-by-pitch… In short, no opposing batter may reach base in any conceivable way.

      • “…despite Ortiz committing three errors on dropped foul balls.”

        You’re right, if a batter reaches base in any way, that breaks up a perfect game. However, a dropped foul ball doesn’t allow the batter to reach base; it merely prolongs the at-bat. Thus, although it would make for an odd-looking stat line, a perfect game is still possible under those circumstances.

          • No, but errors are. That was his point. You can still pitch a perfect game even though your team has committed errors on, for example, dropped foul balls. Odd looking stat line, meaning:
            0 R, 0 H, 3 E, 0 LOB

    • World Series MVP only counts World Series games. Everyone has a clean slate no matter how bad they did in previous playoff games. Based on the World Series games, Ortiz is deserving of the MVP even though he did poorly in the other playoff games.

    • Would those dropped fouls of Ortiz’s be from the on deck circle??? Hard for him to get defensive errors as a DH, with Game 7 in Boston and all…

      Funny regardless, just thought I’d mention it…

    • Uh bro, 2 things; 1 i am DH 2. I got the MVP title locked up in my house already, along with my world series ring that has engraved on it “GAME 6: BOS-73 STL-0000000!!!!!!!!

  2. Paltry numbers by Bobby Richardson. I think you’ve got it backwards. Yes Ortiz has a high Batting Ave and OPS. However Richardson hit .367 with 11 hits including 2 doubles 2 triples and homerun.He also scored 8 runs and had 12 rbi’s. His slugging percentage was .667 and his OPS was 1.054. Please do your homework before you make a statement like that. I watched that WS as a teenager and it was the best display of hitting under pressure I have ever seen.

    • They were talking about how his OPS was “partly” compared to Ortiz. His OPS was almost half that of Ortiz, so they were right in the area that was being compared.

    • Jim, I can assure you, this was no knock on Bobby Richardson, who had a great World Series. It’s a comment on how ridiculous Ortiz has been.

    • It isn’t a slight to Bobby Richardson, but OPS is a bit more indicative of individual performance than RBIs. Richardson clobbered the ball on a team that clobbered the ball for the whole series, of course he had 12 RBIs. Who is Ortiz supposed to drive in? if you are hitting .730something and don’t have 12 RBIs, it isn’t your fault there is no one to drive in. And he was robbed of a grand slam on a very nice catch by Beltran. I must admit, I don’t know ALL that much about it the 1960 series, but I am pretty sure a few other guys hit well over .300, and I thought Mantle maybe hit about .400? David Ortiz has had Jonny Gomes protecting him the last two games.

      • Whether he juices or not doesn’t matter all that much in a skill sport. Hitting a baseball isn’t running a 40 meter dash. Enhancing physical ability doesn’t make you capable of kinetically and effortlessly hit a round ball with a round bat.

        Ortiz almost certainly has used enhancing drugs in his career, but they didn’t make him into the best dh of all time, just like a rod didn’t turn into the best shortstop of a generation overnight. The skills they possess is what ultimately determines how they do in this sport.

        • I love the casual “almost certainly has been” argument being presented as if it’s reasonable.

          David Ortiz hasn’t had a single positive test in the 11-12 years that MLB has been systematically testing for PEDs. And he passes a test every month or so. This isn’t the 1990s, when it was easy for players to use all sorts of substances without being detected.

          • His name was part of the Mitchell Report. Please dont claim that he is innocent of roid use. I’m a lifelong Sox fan, but dont say he didnt test positive. He did. He’s hitting fantastically and I hope they win tomorrow, but he will never be the leader of any team n my eyes and I dont want my son to thnk you can cheat and everything’s okay later. I laughed at the he must be on the juice again comment. It’s very possible. What would a positive test cost him at this pont in his career.? Nothing.

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  4. In addition to Ortiz’s legendary hitting accomplishment, it should be noted that when he had to play 1B in SL under no-DH rules he did it without any serious mishap. Had he messed up that could have been bad. If you think playing 1B is easy, try being the guy who has to catch the end throw of almost every ball in play. If you screw up, they sure notice! BTW, here is my regular plug for changing the DH rule. I propose a coin toss between the two managers at HP at the beginning of every game with the winner choosing DH/no-DH. That would make the lineup card suspenseful, the pitchers on their toes during BP and the game generally more subtle. Your classic DH will get his slots half the time but you don’t know when. The manager has to think ahead with two lineup cards. And the rules get standardized between the leagues.

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