It’s old news that this is David Ortiz’s last season.
But it doesn’t seem like it’s his last with the way he has been playing. Game after game, he steps up to the plate and delivers as if it’s still 2004.
Looking at Ortiz’s last season, as it stands, has many wondering how it stacks up to other Major League Baseball player’s final send-offs.
In recent years, we have seen future Hall of Famers receive gratifying thank you’s across the majors. Players such as Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera all come to mind as individuals who impacted the game in the most positive of ways.
How does Big Papi’s last season compare to these players final hoorahs?
Before this season Ortiz’s career numbers were Hall of Fame worthy already. He held a .270 batting average with 1,641 total RBI, 503 home runs and a .365 OPB. And he’s only improved in all those categories.
Currently Ortiz holds a .335 batting average with 47 RBI, 14 home runs and a .416 OPB. He’s posting MVP caliber numbers in his final season at the age of 40.
Let’s switch gears a bit and look at how Ortiz compares to Chipper Jones.
In 2012, the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame third baseman announced it would be his last season. Entering his final season, Jones had proved his value in the majors. He was a seven time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger and the National League MVP in 1999.
The league cherished Jones in his final season. Many teams gave him parting gifts and he was voted into the All-Star game.
However, throughout the entire 2012 season, Jones’ numbers were not close to what Ortiz’s have been.
He had a .287 batting average while slugging .455. He only hit 14 home runs and tallied 62 RBI. Jones was also 40 years old.
By seasons end, Ortiz will surpass what Jones was able to contribute in his final season. Ortiz has the same number of home runs and is only 15 RBI shy of matching Jones’ entire year.
Now it’s time to look at an individual from the Evil Empire: Derek Jeter.
In 2014, the majors saw one of it’s all-time best short stops say goodbye. One can argue that Jeter was one of the most impactful New York Yankees to ever wear pinstripes.
Entering his final campaign, Jeter was a 13-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glover, a four-time Sliver Slugger and the 1996 rookie of the year.
Just like Jones, Jeter was cherished by baseball fans everywhere in his last season. He too was voted into the All-Star game.
Also 40 years old, Jeter wasn’t able to post impressive numbers like Ortiz. He only chalked up a .256 batting average while slugging .313. His offensive production continued to remain low as he only hit four home runs with 50 RBI.
Ignoring the home run comparison with Jeter, every other statistic favors Ortiz. Only two months into the season, Ortiz trails Jeter’s 2014 RBI total by three. As for slugging and OPS, well lets just say Ortiz shouldn’t lose those to Jeter.
Moving to another former Yankee, Mariano Rivera’s final season could compare to Ortiz’s as far as impact on the team’s success.
In 2013, Rivera decided it would be his last. The best closer the game has ever seen was leaving.
Prior to the 2013 season, Rivera was a 12-time All-Star, a five-time American League reliever of the year, a three-time MLB saves leader to go along with holding the Major League record for saves in a career.
As far as relievers go, no other player compared to Rivera and baseball knew that.
Understanding how Ortiz and Rivera’s last seasons compare, you have to look at their importance to their team’s success.
Rivera was very impressive in his final season. In 64 innings, he posted 44 saves with a 2.11 ERA and 54 strikeouts, however the Yankees finished 85-77 which was only good for third place in the AL East.
Currently, Ortiz is one of the main reasons the Red Sox are sitting atop of the AL East. As he goes, so do the Red Sox and it’s hard to say the same Rivera.
I’m not saying a closer doesn’t impact his team because that simply isn’t true. A strong closer is one of the most important positions in the game. However, a closer can only be as good as his offense. If a team isn’t producing runs and can’t take a lead into the ninth inning, then the closer doesn’t get the opportunity to come in for a save.
When you look at Ortiz’s production this season, he has accounted for 24 percent of the Red Sox runs. Without his contributions, the Red Sox wouldn’t be where they currently are.
At 40 years old, it’s special to see what Ortiz is still able to do. Of course playing out the rest of the season will indicate where this season truly ranks among the rest.
Will everything spiral downhill or will Ortiz continue the pace he’s at and help lead the Red Sox to the post-season?
Let’s all hope for the latter of the two.