Now that the 2015 season is in the books, the BoSox Injection staff will hand out their final report cards, grading the performances of each member of the Boston Red Sox roster based on their expectations entering the season.
2015 Stats: .273/.360/.553, 37 HR, 108 RBI, 3.2 WAR
Age is merely a number in the mind of David Ortiz. If Father Time is chasing him, the 39-year old is showing no signs of it catching up to him.
Ortiz churned out another 30 home run, 100 RBI season for a franchise-record 9th time in his illustrious career. His 37 homers are the most he has swatted since he set a club record with 54 in 2006, while his 108 RBI are the most he’s collected since 2007.
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As impressive as Ortiz’s home run total was this season, it pales in comparison to the career milestone he surpassed this year. On September 12, Ortiz led the Red Sox to a win in Tampa Bay with a pair of homers to become the 27th member of the 500 home run club. He finished the season with 503 career home runs, putting him one behind Eddie Murray for 26th all-time. If Ortiz can put together a 4th straight 30+ homer season, he’ll vault into the top-20 in major league history, surpassing Red Sox legend Ted Williams along the way.
A glance at the American League leader boards will show Ortiz near the top of most offensive categories. The Red Sox slugger finished inside the top-10 in doubles, home runs, RBI, walks, slugging, and OPS. At an age where most hitters would be falling off a cliff, Ortiz remains among the elite.
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Ortiz got off to a slow start this season, hitting only .231 in the first half with a .761 OPS that would have put him well under his career-low in a Red Sox uniform. As the weather began to heat up this summer, so did Big Papi’s bat. Ortiz was back in vintage form in the second half, slashing .325/.401/.701 with 22 home runs after the break. He led the league in slugging and RBI after the break, while his 1.102 OPS was second.
Ortiz finished the season with 614 plate appearances, locking in a $16 million option for 2016. The Red Sox structured his last contract extension in a way that forces Ortiz to earn the final two option years on his contract through the number of plate appearances he accumulates. We know that he will be back for at least one more year, with the club holding a team option for 2017 at a salary determined by the amount of plate appearances he has next season.
The Red Sox will essentially allow Ortiz to play as long as he wants, so long as he remains healthy and productive enough to stay in the lineup. He certainly doesn’t look like a man nearing the end of his career and Red Sox fans hope it stays that way.