All season long, we’ve been looking back ten years at the underappreciated 2007 championship team. We’ve profiled various players on the roster, some of whom were under the radar and some of whom were among the biggest stars. Today, we are going to look at the biggest star from that team, and possibly the biggest star this franchise has ever seen. It’s only fitting that we use this off-day to look at David Ortiz’ 2007 season, what with the organization honoring the long-time designated hitter on Friday night.
It goes without saying that Ortiz has had a lot of great seasons in Boston. It would take me all day to list every single amazing year he had as a member of the Red Sox. With that being said, one stands out above the rest. Part of the reason 2007 is so special to me — and there are many reasons for it — is that it was the peak of Ortiz’ career. We’ll probably remember his amazing final season more than 2007. We’ll probably remember his introduction to the city in 2003 and 2004 more than 2007. Make no mistake, though. We never saw Ortiz play at a higher level than when we saw him in 2007.
By the time this season rolled around, the slugger was already a face of the Red Sox franchise. He had previously played a major role in the team’s first championship in 86 years and he was coming off his fourth consecutive season of being one of the premier hitters in all of baseball. It was hard to see him getting much better in his age-31 season, but he didn’t need to be. Simply keeping up the status quo would be enough to make him and his partner-in-crime Manny Ramirez among the best one-two punches in baseball.
Screw that, though. Ortiz has never been one for taking the typical road. Instead, he put together an incredible season that is one of the best offensive seasons the Red Sox will ever see. Over 667 plate appearances in 147 games, Ortiz hit .332/.445/.621. Now, that seems even crazier given today’s offensive environment, particularly in terms of batting average and on-base percentage. The times were a little different ten years ago. However, even when you adjust for era that is still a bananas line. It worked out to a 175 wRC+, meaning he was 75 percent better than the league-average hitter in that season.
In all, he was tied for the best hitter in baseball that season, by wRC+, with Alex Rodriguez. Obviously, with Rodriguez playing the field he was a more valuable overall player, but literally no one in baseball that season was a better hitter, and only one was even as good. Expanding the scope a little bit, going all the way back to 1901, Ortiz’ 2007 season was tied for the 17th best offensive season by any player in Red Sox history. There’s really no other ways to describe how great he was.
It wasn’t just one part of his offensive game that carried him to that line, either. Instead, Ortiz was good at everything. He held his strikeout rate below 16 percent, which is wildly impressive for someone who hits for the kind of power he did. He also managed to walk more than he struck out, a feat he accomplished just three times in his career. Speaking of that power, he managed an Isolated Power of .290, which at the time was actually his lowest as a member of the Red Sox. To make up for that, though, the designated hitter produced a career-high .355 batting average on balls in play. The final point I’ll make is that he was consistent throughout the whole season, with each month of the year ending with a wRC+ of at least 155.
And that’s just the regular season. As we all know, the true David Ortiz doesn’t come out until the postseason, and it’s always going to be the month of October that Ortiz will be remembered for. He is always good in the postseason, as evidenced by his .947 career playoff OPS, but he was particularly great in 2007. Now, one would probably be correct in arguing this wasn’t his best postseason, as his 2004 was insane by posting an OPS of at least 1.000 in each of his three series.
However, Ortiz was incredible in this postseason, and it started with his best series of his career. In that 2007 ALDS against the Angels, he hit .714/.846/1.571 (no that’s not a typo). He followed that up by posting a .966 OPS in the ALCS and a .945 OPS in the World Series. He never took an October off, and this October in particular was a special one.
Ortiz is going to be remembered for a lot of things, and many of them will be before 2007 and many will be after. In fact, his 2007 season relative to the rest of his career fits perfectly with that entire team. It was almost too good to the point of being boring. Even for me, that season won’t be what I remember him for the most. However, when I think of Ortiz the player — forgetting about the heroics and off-the-field stuff and focusing only on how he played on a day-to-day basis — that 2007 version of himself was his peak, and it’s the version I will forever remember.