Putting David Ortiz’s 30 homer, 100 RBI season in perspective


For years, the 30 home run, 100 RBI season has been the gold standard for power hitters in baseball. Over the weekend, slugger David Ortiz eclipsed Ted Williams, who fashioned seven such seasons despite missing parts of five years of his career to military service, for the most 30/100 campaigns in Boston Red Sox history.

The fact that Ortiz remains among the league’s most feared hitters well past the expiration date of his Steroid Era peers further cements his legacy among the all-time great hitters and adds to a growing case for induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Back in 2003, when Ortiz emerged from a spring platoon with Jeremy Giambi to smash 31 homers and drive in 101 in 509 at-bats, he had company. Twenty-nine other players hit 30 bombs in 2003, and an incredible 36 drove in 100 runs. Twenty-three players in all performed both feats amidst an era of offensive explosion. Here’s the rundown:

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Eleven years later, Ortiz is the only remaining player from that list to do both, again.  Just nine other players have reached the 30 homer mark, and nine have driven in 100 (including Albert Pujols). But just seven have reached both milestones with less than a week to play:

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While the 38-year old’s batting average has dipped, Ortiz has been one of few Red Sox players to earn his paycheck in 2014. While symbolic feats like the 30/100 club or his 400th Red Sox home run are nice, the fact that he is still an impact player at his age is huge for a franchise looking to rebound in 2015.

He may never hit .300 again, and that’s okay. The hope is that he hangs around for a couple more productive seasons, long enough to reach 500 career homers. Thoughts of Willie Mays with the Mets, Harmon Killebrew with the Royals, or Hank Aaron with the Brewers aren’t particularly inspiring. But as we learned when Ortiz hit .238/28/99 while battling a wrist injury in 2009, he can still be an imposing presence in the lineup when he gets on base about one out of every three times.

And who knows? Big Papi siphons up the fuel from his detractors and doubters. Maybe there’s another .300/30/100 season left in that tank.

After placing among the best middle-of-the-order hitters in baseball in his 18th season and literally outlasting an entire generation of his peers, I wouldn’t put it past him.