With the Boston Red Sox one win away from the World Series title, you might think their lineup had solved a heretofore nigh-unhittable Cardinals pitching staff. You would be wrong. Only one member of the Sox has solved the Redbirds’ hurlers, and it should come as little surprise that David Ortiz is that player.
As SI’s Tom Verducci noted, it was eight long years ago that Ortiz was named "the greatest clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox." So we already knew he could come through when it counts. But the hitting performance Big Papi has put on this October has been mind-boggling. Over his career, he’s hit .476 in the fall classic (the best average of any batter with at least 50 plate appearances.) Impressive, right? Well, after last night’s 3-4 showing, he’s hitting .733. .733!
How important has the 37-year-old slugger’s output been to the Sox's success? Consider the batting averages of Ortiz’s teammates so far: Jacoby Ellsbury, .200; Dustin Pedroia, .263; Jonny Gomes, .071. And it goes on. The rest of the Red Sox batters are hitting anemic .144! This graphic helps put that disparity in perspective.
The only player in baseball history to match Papi’s gaudy average was Billy Hatcher, who hit .750 for the Cincinatti Reds in 1990. The difference is that Hatcher had no home runs, two walks, and two RBIs. Ortiz has two (crucial) home runs, four walks, and six RBIs.
There’s been some debate as to whether Ortiz is a Hall of Famer - this despite his clubhouse nickname of “Cooperstown.” Chalk any naysayers up to his career as a designated hitter. But Papi’s postseason heroics should offset any doubters - as Ortiz said after last night’s win, “I was born for this.”
Ortiz and the Red Sox look to close out the Series tomorrow night in Boston.
Photos by Michael Ivin/ Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013