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Papi a threat to shatter many final-season marks

July 13, 2016

From a tribute at the Fenway Park home opener to a hugfest in front of the American League dugout in the All-Star Game at Petco Park, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is putting on a final season for the ages, a swan song to beat them all.Already, Ortiz has set

From a tribute at the Fenway Park home opener to a hugfest in front of the American League dugout in the All-Star Game at Petco Park, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is putting on a final season for the ages, a swan song to beat them all.
Already, Ortiz has set a pace to bid perhaps the most powerful farewell in baseball history with 22 homers and 72 RBIs and almost half the schedule yet to play. While insisting that this is, indeed and for sure, his last season, Ortiz leads the Majors with 57 extra-base hits, a .426 on-base percentage, a .682 slugging percentage and the 1.107 OPS that combines the latter two.

Just how his final season will turn out down the stretch remains to be seen, but here's a look at where Ortiz stands heading into the second half with history as the backdrop:
Red Sox exits
As Big Papi turns homeward in a performance that has thrilled thus far, one curious comparable is the final bow for the greatest Red Sox hitter of all time: Ted Williams.
Williams' 29 homers are the most by any Hall of Famer in his final season, and that was in 390 plate appearances, short of qualifying for the batting title. When it comes to saying farewell, Williams had the perfect storybook finish with a homer in his last at-bat.

Along with a .332/.426/.682 line, Ortiz is already just seven homers shy of Williams' Red Sox-best mark and has matched the legendary left fielder in RBIs. The all-time mark for homers in a final season was set by Dave Kingman, who had 35 for the A's in 1986, followed by Williams in a tie for second with Mark McGwire (2001). Ortiz needs eight more RBIs to pass Ed Morgan, who tallied 79 with Boston in his last season, 1934.
A look at some of the team's more powerful Hall of Famers and their final season:
Ted Williams, 1960: .316/.451/.645, 29 HRs, 72 RBIs
Bobby Doerr, 1951: .289/.378/.448, 13 HRs, 73 RBIs
Carl Yastrzemski, 1983: .266/.359/.408, 10 HRs, 56 RBIs
Jim Rice, 1989: .234/.276/.344, 3 HRs, 28 RBIs
With 22 at the break, Ortiz is already in a tie for 11th-most homers in a final season, currently even with Torii Hunter (2015), Adam Dunn (2014) and Phil Nevin (2006).
Only three Hall of Famers hit more than Ortiz's 22 home runs in their final season:
Ted Williams, 29, 1960
Hank Greenberg, 25, 1947
Kirby Puckett, 23, 1995

All players with more than 22 HRs in their final season:

Dave Kingman, 35, 1986
Mark McGwire, 29, 2001
Ted Williams, 29, 1960
Barry Bonds, 28, 2007
Jermaine Dye, 27, 2009
Hank Greenberg, 25, 1947
Jack Graham, 24, 1949
Roy Cullenbine, 24, 1947
Albert Belle, 23, 2000
Kirby Puckett, 23, 1995
RBI guys
A two-time RBI champion who has nine seasons with 100 or more, Ortiz already has climbed to some final-season heights with his 72 at the break. Only four Hall of Famers have posted more RBIs in their final season:
Kirby Puckett, 99, 1995
George Brett, 75, 1993
Hank Greenberg, 74, 1947
Bobby Doerr, 73, 1951
(It should be noted that Puckett's career ended abruptly the next Spring Training when he lost vision in his right eye, forcing him to retire at age 35.)
As for all players in their final season, Ortiz currently ranks in a tie for 32nd all time but needs just 10 more to crack the top 10:
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, 121, 1920
Happy Felsch, 115, 1920
Albert Belle, 103, 2000
Kirby Puckett, 99, 1995
Dave Kingman, 94, 1986
Sammy Sosa, 92, 2007
Smoky Joe Wood, 92, 1922
Ed Konetchy, 82, 1921
Rebel Oakes, 82, 1915 *
Torii Hunter, 81, 2015
Jermaine Dye, 81, 2009

  • Federal League player
    Of course, the duo at the top of that list jumps out as two players who wound up being banned from baseball after the 1920 season, one year after the infamous 1919 World Series, for their participation in the Black Sox scandal.
    OPS, XBH, etc.
    The combination of on-base percentage and slugging that Ortiz possesses has always been a hallmark of his skillset, and he is off to a career-high start in all those categories. His 1.107 OPS would be his best ever if it holds.
    Only three players have posted a 1.000 OPS or better in their final season, based on 350 plate appearances or more (Ortiz is currently at 343 PA):
    Ted Williams, 1.096, 390 PA, 1960 *
    Barry Bonds, 1.045, 477 PA, 2007 *
    Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1.033, 649 PA, 1920
  • Did not qualify for batting title

As for extra-base hits, those two banned White Sox are at the top of the list, but not too far for Big Papi to catch if he keeps on building from his current tally of 57.
Shoeless Joe Jackson, 74, 1920
Happy Felsch, 69, 1920
Kirby Puckett, 62, 1995
Albert Belle, 61, 2000
It's amazing how far Ortiz has risen already on these lists, really. He has another 75 Red Sox games to continue to make his mark as one of the best finishers in baseball history.
As his final (yes, he swears it's his final) season continues, Big Papi will be marching up these lists with each big hit he collects in the coming weeks and months.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB.