25 In 25: David Ortiz
Player Profile: David Ortiz is the lynchpin of the Red Sox lineup and overall team. As his production goes, so does that of the rest of the lineup. Ortiz makes the Red Sox a different lineup when he is healthy and hitting. He is clearly their most important offensive player. He is also, by far, the best free agent signing in Red Sox team history and has revolutionized the importance of the DH position.
The other players on this team take their cue from Ortiz. (With a little Dustin Pedroia sprinkled in) The players look to him for direction. Manager John Farrell encourages it. That was never more evident than in Game 4 of this past World Series when Ortiz called an impromptu dugout meeting during the game to urge his teammates to relax and seize the moment and just go out and play because they might not ever be this close to winning a championship again. It ended up being a key moment for the Sox as they wrested control of the series from the Cardinals shortly thereafter.
Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitterDavid Ortiz
reacts after scoring in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during game six of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Season and Recent History: After a delayed start to his season due to the lingering effects from his Achilles problem of 2012, Ortiz ended up posting yet another typical Big Papi season. The slash line of .309/.395/.959 with 30 HR and 103 in RBI in 137 games was crucial to the Sox offensive success last year. Of course, his huge grand slam home run in Game 2 of the ALCS off Joaquin Benoit saved the Red Sox from going down into a 0-2 hole in the series and once again proved that Ortiz’ clutch hitting ability in the postseason is on par with that of any baseball player in history that you want to name.
2014 Outlook: It’s all about health with Big Papi. If he is playing regularly and doing his thing as the clean up hitter the Red Sox are a difficult lineup to deal with. His presence just changes the way a pitcher works to the other eight hitters. Opponents must always be mindful of his presence. With the return of Mike Napoli to the spot behind Ortiz in the lineup and a full season of Xander Bogaerts as a rising star, expect plenty of lineup protection for Ortiz. Until proven otherwise, expect big numbers from him and that continued presence in the Red Sox clubhouse that will continue to define this team both on and off the field.