Taking out time to appreciate the finer things in life is important for all of us. So our team of dedicated volunteers have come together to bring you an appreciation of David Ortiz’s home run career as he approaches number 500.
The Boston Red Sox are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the game. Many of the all time greats have called Fenway home, paving the way for the incredible career of the man we call Big Papi. In the early 1900s, Cy Young won 182 games pitching for the franchise. After Cy came Babe Ruth who was a fantastic pitcher for the Sox before becoming known as the best hitter of all time for the New York Yankees. After Babe was traded to the Yankees, Jimmy Foxx did his best to make Boston fans forget about Ruth by hitting 222 home runs in six and a half years with the team. Then came Ted Williams. The Splinter redefined greatness and became the last hitter with an average over .400 for a season, racking up 521 home runs while OBPing .482 over his career. He did all that while missing three seasons serving his country in World War II and parts of two seasons later in his career in the Korean War.
Carl Yastrzemski followed that with an astonishing 23-year career with the Red Sox. Yaz had over 3,400 hits in a Red Sox uniform, endearing himself to fans across multiple generations. The next great to amaze Sox fans was Fred Lynn, who hit for a .902 OPS during his seven-year career with the franchise. Wade Boggs followed Lynn with over 2,000 hits in 11 years as Boston’s third baseman. Boggs was an OBP-machine sporting a .428 OBP during his tenure in Boston. While Boggs was with the team Roger Clemens was dominating on the mound. The Rocket won three Cy Young awards and nearly 200 games before a contract dispute led to him changing teams. Nomar Garciaparra won consecutive batting titles in 1999 and 2000, giving new hope to a generation of Sox fans who feared they would never see a World Series Champion in Boston.
Pedro Martinez would be the next, and perhaps greatest, ace to join the Red Sox. Pedro pitched two of, if not the, best seasons in MLB history in 1999 and 2000. He struck out 599 batters and won a Cy Young in each of those two years. Then came Manny Ramirez. The enigmatic slugger came to Boston with the largest contract in MLB history at the time. He proved his worth belting 274 home runs with a .999 OPS while winning two World Series with the Sox. Finally, we have David Ortiz. Big Papi has endeared himself to fans with his clutch performances in three World Series runs and is fast approaching the celebrated 500 home run milestone. He currently stands at 495. Below we have compiled some infographics and videos to celebrate the latest Red Sox hero’s career.
Since Ortiz’s spike in home runs a decade ago, he has steadily hit around thirty home runs a year on his approach to 500.
Here we have a breakdown of Ortiz’s home runs by season and by opponent. He had a slow start to his career, but he made up for it with his incredible run in the mid-00s. He has feasted off of AL East pitching as those are his most common opponents and holds the record for most home runs by an opponent at the Rogers Centre.
Big Papi is known for being the best in a tight situation. He’s hit nearly 70 home runs when the game is tied, more than double any other scoring situation.
Ortiz heats up with the weather. June through August is when Ortiz has done the majority of his damage. However, when the lights get the brightest, he heats up and has a history of making a huge impact in the playoffs.
The Large Father has done damage to starting pitchers early in games. The late innings drop-off is due to less at-bats in the later innings.
It all started with an absolute moonshot in Texas. David Ortiz exploded onto the scene in 1997 demonstrating enormous power at just 21-years-old. He was still three seasons away from seeing anything resembling consistent playing time, but he had arrived.
Despite coming off of a half season where he launched 18 bombs in 2002, the Minnesota Twins decided to cut Ortiz, making him a free agent. Theo Epstein scooped him up to compete for a job against Jeremy Giambi and on April 27 hit the first of what would end up being 31 home runs in that 2003 season. By the time June rolled around, the job was his and he never looked back.
The next October his legend would begin. Papi would finish off a sweep of the Angels with a walk off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, sending the Red Sox into that fateful 2004 ALCS that would change everything.
Of course, the heroics were just beginning. Down 3-0 to the Yankees, facing yet another postseason heartbreak, game 4, which started on October 17 had stretched into the wee hours of the 18th when Ortiz stepped into the box in the bottom of the 12th of a tie game. Dave Roberts had already stolen second (He was safe by like a foot!) and Bill Mueller had driven him in. This time there would be no small ball. Paul Quantill delivered a 2-1 pitch and Papi sent the ball screaming into the night. The Curse was shoved unceremoniously to the next day and would, just three nights later, finally be put to rest.