Before David Ortiz heads off into the sunset to endorse totally legit brands and products such as Welp and Bee World, there's still going to be an over-the-top farewell tour (are we going to have to do this any time a notable player retires now? It feels like way too much), a plethora of bat flips and another handful of clutch hits. And that's just what will happen in-game. It's hard to quantify Ortiz's impact on Boston precisely because it extends so far beyond just the games (and I've tried to do that in this space before), but he's certainly made a sizable dent on the field as well.
That chase for 500 home runs came, perhaps unfortunately, at the end of 2015, when the Red Sox were playing inconsequential games despite Ortiz hitting 37 dingers on the year, his highest total since his Red Sox record-setting 54 jacks in 2006 (which is a pretty remarkable stat indicative of the designated hitter's longevity). Still, even with that chase out of the way, Ortiz faces several attainable marks, especially in the franchise record books.
Barring some tragic injury, Ortiz stands to pass Bobby Doerr in games played for the Red Sox, trailing only Carl Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans, Ted Williams and Jim Rice. And while it's easy to look at Ortiz over the past few seasons and take his success in his twilight years for granted, it was seven whole years ago in 2009 when many folks gave up on the slugger, as he crawled his way through the first half, entering June with a .566 OPS after not hitting a home run until May 20.
"People keep writing and saying all this (stuff)," Ortiz told USA Today in 2009. "They say I can't hit no more. That I'm done. What, I have one arm now? I'm not 45. I never struggled like this, but I'll be back. Then what are they going to say?"
This brand of bold defiance is what precisely brought Ortiz to where he is today, brought him to Boston as a Twins castoff, made him a critical member of the 2004 3-0 comeback in the ALCS against the Yankees and allows him to hit 30 home runs and knock in 100 runs in his age 37, 38 and 39 seasons.
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Should Ortiz have a season in line with his projections, he figures to pass Doerr in career hits, placing behind Yaz, Williams, Rice, Evans and Wade Boggs. Ortiz also figures to pass Yaz in career home runs (452 to Ortiz's 445) to set up shop as No. 2 in the Red Sox All-Time home run list behind Ted Williams and projects to pass Jim Rice for third in Runs Batted In trailing only, you guessed it, Yaz and Williams.
Oh, and he can also pass Yaz for third place all-time in franchise history for strikeouts. They can't all be positive records.
So there is some room for upward mobility for Ortiz when it comes to the Red Sox leaderboard. However, interestingly enough, there's not that same room when taking a look at the leaderboard for full-time designated hitters. Among hitters who predominantly played the position--or lack thereof--Ortiz ranks first all-time in home runs, first (or second depending on if you count Paul Molitor as a DH) in runs scored and first in RBI. On top of all of that, Ortiz will likely finish his career trailing just Edgar Martinez in career WAR. It's hard to get better than best.
Really, the last frontier for Ortiz to conquer is to become the unquestioned greatest designated hitter of all time, a claim that many give to Edgar Martinez, who hit .314/.428/.532 with 243 home runs in 1,403 games at the spot in his career. Now, many, especially in Red Sox Nation, will object to this, but with Ortiz at .288/.383/.556 with 415 home runs at 1,753 at DH, Big Papi becoming the universal "greatest DH of all time" appears to be a tall task at this point. Even when adjusting for era, Ortiz has a career 139 OPS to Martinez' 147, and Martinez makes up for most of the games he's trailing Ortiz by with games at third base, and it's kind of hard to detract from his DH case for having helped out on defense at times.
Still, especially when considering where Ortiz was when he arrived in Boston (and the first few months of his tenure with the Red Sox, battling it out with Jeremy Giambi), it's absolutely remarkable that we are where we are today, with Ortiz holding enough clout around baseball to prepare for a farewell retirement tour, with a strong case for the Hall of Fame in tow. Pedro Martinez once had to vouch for David Ortiz just for him to receive playing time. Now he's widely considered among the most important figures in the history of a franchise.
Can you believe the Minnesota Twins released this guy?