This is a message to anyone who wants to argue that David Ortiz isn’t the best clutch hitter that the game of baseball has ever seen.
You’re wrong. You’re so unbelievably wrong. I shouldn’t have to explain why you’re wrong but I will because that’s what I do.
With a walk-off hit against the Astros this past May at Fenway, Papi now has the third most regular season walk-offs ever with 20:
He also became the third player ever behind Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds to hit 500 home runs and 600 doubles. Obviously he’s with some incredible company, but this stat isn’t what I’d like to focus on right now.
Let’s talk about the clutch factor. The two players who have finished their careers with more regular season walk-off hits than Ortiz currently has are Frank Robinson (26) and Dusty Baker (21). Robinson retired in 1976 and Baker in 1986, and no one besides Papi has come close to their totals in the last 30 years.
Also, neither Robinson nor Baker ever had a walk-off in the postseason. In fact no player has ever had more than two playoff walk-offs in their career.
Well, except for David Ortiz. He beat that record in one year when he had three in the 2004 playoffs and single-handedly brought the Red Sox their first World Series title in 86 years. All in all he has four postseason walk-offs, twice as many as anyone ever.
It started on September 25th, 2002 when he hit his first career walk-off as a member of the Minnesota Twins:
It continued the next year when he joined the Red Sox and beat out Jeremy Giambi for the starting DH spot.
Ortiz had two walk-off hits in 2003, five in 2004 including the playoffs, three in 2005, and five in 2006. That’s FIFTEEN FUCKING WALK-OFF HITS IN FOUR YEARS. Absolutely unheard of.
Since then he’s had seven more. Derek Jeter, who is widely regarded as one of the most clutch players ever, had seven in his entire career. Ortiz more than doubled that in a four-year span and then nearly tripled it for his career.
And these are just walk-offs, which of course can only occur when the Red Sox are at home and Ortiz is up in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings with a chance to win the game. It doesn’t include all of the game-tying or go-ahead hits in the late innings, and we know there are plenty of those too.
Here’s a 21 minute video that only captures SOME of Ortiz’s clutch moments. There were some huge hits and even some walk-offs missing but you get the point. If someone were to make a video that includes every single one of Papi’s clutch hits, you’d have to set aside an entire day to watch it (which I’m totally willing to do if someone wants to take the time to make that video):
The point is that most players are lucky to experience a walk-off once in their career. Big Papi hit a couple every year and we take it for granted. We will likely never see another player come through so frequently in clutch situations.
I mentioned that 2004 wouldn’t have happened without him, and 2013 wouldn’t have either. Ortiz hit .688 in the 2013 World Series, the highest batting average in World Series history. The rest of the Red Sox hit a combined .169. Papi reached base 19 times in 25 plate appearances. The Sox wouldn’t have just lost the series without him, they would have been swept. They made it to the World Series and then completely forgot how to hit once they got there. So what does Papi do? He picks them up and carries them on his 37 year-old back so they can all celebrate a championship together.
In 2016, his final season, he didn’t slow down a bit. In fact he had one of the best years of his career, hitting .315 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI’s. All the way down to his last at-bat as a Big Leaguer, the man would not quit.
So to anyone who says they’d prefer someone other than David Ortiz to be at the plate with the game on the line: please, stop lying to yourself. I understand there have been better baseball players, I understand there are better hitters, but there is NO ONE that is more clutch than Big Papi, past or present.
At this point there shouldn’t be a debate. If you disagree it’s probably because he’s stabbed your team in the heart one too many times. You can just continue to give your weak arguments for why there are better clutch hitters while Ortiz walks away from the game with three World Series rings and more game-changing hits than your five favorite players combined.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour
Photo Credit: Nancy Lane via Boston Herald