At the conclusion of the 2016 MLB season, Boston Red Sox designated hitter (DH) David Ortiz will be hanging up his cleats. Ortiz announced that he would be retiring from baseball in a video on Nov. 18.
Ortiz, or “Big Papi” as he is known to Red Sox nation, will be entering his 17th year in the league. The Dominican born Ortiz made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins back in 1997.
Since then, he has had an illustrious career after being traded to Boston in 2003. He became one of the biggest clutch hitters in the modern era, and helped fuel the Sox to their first World Series win in 86 years in 2004.
In the 2004 playoffs, particularly in the ALCS comeback versus the New York Yankees, Ortiz hit a walk-off homer to keep Boston’s hopes alive in the 12th inning of Game four. He also hit the walk-off single in Game five.
In 2006, Big Papi slugged 54 home runs in a single season, breaking Jimmie Foxx’s team record of 51. That was the season in which he hit the most home runs in his career. Since he joined the Red Sox, he has had nine seasons with 30 or more homers. He has been to nine all-star games and has won six silver slugger awards.
His heroics in the playoffs have earned him the ALCS MVP and World Series MVP titles once. The ALCS title coming in 2004, and the World Series MVP coming in 2013 when he batted .688 with two homers and six RBI.
What stands out more than his actions on the field were the personality and energy that he brought to the team, and the city of Boston. He was one of the focal points on the 2004 team that won it all, and was able to rally a city after the Boston Marathon attacks, giving his “This is our [expletive] city” speech at Fenway Park.
He said in his retirement announcement video that he enjoyed being a part of a second family, his team, and that he is grateful for the opportunities that he has been given.
Ortiz admits that he would love to be able to play “for 40 more years,” but that does not seem to be in the cards for Big Papi. He also said that every athlete has a time when they decide that they cannot play anymore, and that his time has come.
What does this mean for the Red Sox now that one of their most consistent hitters will be gone in one year? The good news is that Boston has some players waiting in the wings that could help out.
The opening of the DH spot could allow the defensive liability in Hanley Ramirez to move into just a hitting role. This would allow some of the players in the Boston outfield to get significant playing time.
Players like Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo could fill the outfield instead of having to dance around Ramirez’s schedule. Plus, the fact that the Sox paid $72.5 million for Castillo means that they should play him more so he is not a waste of money or roster space.
That outfield is a young group, but they have a lot of speed and athleticism, which could be a good sign of things to come should they all stay in Boston.
So despite the fact that Ortiz is retiring, which is a sad event for many Red Sox fans, there is hope for the future.
After all, he still has one last season to play.