Forget about retirement gifts. David Ortiz's focus in his final season is to produce one more monster year that can help propel the Red Sox to their first postseason appearance since 2013.Given that this is the time of year for fearless predictions, here is one: Ortiz will have one of
Forget about retirement gifts. David Ortiz's focus in his final season is to produce one more monster year that can help propel the Red Sox to their first postseason appearance since 2013.
Given that this is the time of year for fearless predictions, here is one: Ortiz will have one of the best seasons any player has had at the age of 40 in terms of numbers.
The only player in history who hit 30 home runs or more in an age 40 season? Darrell Evans, who clubbed 34 for the Tigers in 1987. At 41 years old, Raul Ibanez and Ted Williams hit 29 homers in 2013 and 1960, respectively.
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The only two players to reach 100 RBIs at the age of 40? Dave Winfield (108 in 1993) and Harold Baines (103 in '99). Evans (99 RBIs in '87) and Edgar Martinez (98 in 2003) just missed.
So why not Ortiz? Just last season, Big Papi had his third straight 30-100 season, smashing 37 homers and driving in 108.
"Don't think that just because I'm retiring after this season that I'm not hungry," Ortiz said. "I'm still hungry. I was going at it this offseason just to come in and have another good season. And I'm going to be pushing my teammates the best I can, the best possible."
And there's little reason to think he can't. Ortiz still appears to possess the same bat speed and power.
Ortiz hasn't homered yet in Spring Training, but he's historically been quiet in Grapefruit League action. Once the lights come on, Ortiz vows to be ready.
"I'm not worried about anything," Ortiz said. "I know that once I start playing every day and start seeing pitchers consistently on a daily basis, I know how to make my adjustments."
Though some players might get distracted by all the hoopla that surrounds a retirement tour, Ortiz has always thrived most when he is in the limelight.
"David Ortiz is one of the last true superstars in the way people gravitate to him," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We see it in our clubhouse. You see it in cities in which you go to. The attention he draws. And yet all he wants to do is win. There will be enough accolades and tributes paid to him, but I think along the way, he would like go out on top."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast.