David Ortiz was on baseball’s scrap heap in January 2003, having been released by the Minnesota Twins a month earlier. The Red Sox took a flyer on the left-handed hitting first baseman.
Did that ever pay off.
Ortiz became a 10-time All-Star with the Red Sox and as their full-time DH made significant noise in the MVP voting during his peak years, finishing fifth in 2003 fourth in 2004 and 2007, third in 2006 and runner-up to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees in 2005 — the closest a full-time DH has come to winning the honor.
He led the American League in home runs in 2006, was a three-time RBI champ — including in his final season in 2016 — and put up gaudy numbers while helping the Red Sox to three World Series titles.
Ortiz retired after the 2016 season, despite leading the AL in doubles and RBI, just shy of his 41st birthday.
In 14 seasons with the Red Sox, Ortiz hit .290/.386/.956 an OPS+ of 148, with 483 homers, 1,530 RBI and 1,204 runs scored.
He played in a record eight postseasons for Boston, earning MVP honors in the historic 2004 ALCS comeback over the New York Yankees after hitting .387 with three homers and 11 RBI and was the World Series MVP in 2013, going a ridiculous 11-for-16 with two home runs and six RBI.
In all, Ortiz put up a slash line in the postseason of .291/.415/.975 in 76 games with 17 homers, 57 RBI and 51 runs.
Ortiz was linked to reports of performance-enhancing drug use and in 2016 spoke about reports he was one of the players who failed an anonymous test in 2003. He continued to deny any involvement and never tested positive after MLB adopted its current program in 2005.
In retirement, Ortiz remains involved with the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which he founded in 2007, and joined UNICEF Kid Power for a mission in Burkina Faso.