Will Middlebrooks Will Middlebrooks

Is David Ortiz A Legitimate MVP Candidate?


There’s been quite a bit of writing concerning Will Middlebrooks as a potential AL Rookie of the Year candidate. However, not a whole lot has been said about David Ortiz as a possible MVP candidate. At the ripe old age of 36, David Ortiz is on pace for one of the best seasons of his distinguished career. The closest Ortiz has ever come to the big catch was in 2005 when he was the runner-up to Alex Rodriguez for AL MVP. In that season, he batted .300 with 47 home runs and 148 RBIs for the division winning Red Sox.

However, 2005 was by no means even a career year for the left-handed designated hitter. He finished fifth in 2003, fourth in 2004, second in 2005, third in 2006, and fourth in 2007. From 2003 to 2007, Ortiz averaged a ridiculous line of .302/.398/.612 while also averaging an equally fantastic 42 home runs and 128 RBIs per season over that five year stretch. Despite this, the only regular season awards he has ever won have been the Hank Aaron Award in 2005 and the Roberto Clemente Award last season. Why is this?

The primary reason is that he is a designated hitter. Since he does not play in the field, he has never truly been the Most Valuable Player in the American League despite his .300/47/148 being just about as good as A-Rod’s .321/48/130 mark. However, could 2012 be the year that Ortiz finally wraps up the AL MVP? He is having a fantastic season so far, leading the Red Sox in just about every category with a triple slash line of .304/.391/.612– very similar numbers to his heyday of the mid-2000’s.

He currently leads the Red Sox in batting average (.304), on base percentage (.391), slugging percentage (.612),  home runs (20), RBIs (52), runs (51), and walks (39). He is a huge reason to why the Red Sox are even close to contending this season with the slumps of Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia plus the injuries of players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. Ortiz has absolutely carried the offense this season through thick and thin and is almost certainly the Red Sox’ MVP. Is he the league MVP though?

He’ll have some pretty stiff competition, that’s for sure. Josh Hamilton is raking to a tune of .318/23/66. Miguel Cabrera is always a contender and has been great this year– batting .307/15/59. Paul Konerko is having a resurgence with a .337/13/39. However, with the exception of Hamilton (who is cooling off since his torrid start to the season), no other player in the American League is so consistently good in every offensive category. Since Ortiz is a DH, he may not be the MVP– but neither Hamilton, Cabrera, or Konerko are even above average defenders. It may be a long shot for Ortiz to win the MVP, but if he keeps hitting like this, anything is possible.