Ortiz has dominated like few other hitters since joining Red Sox
By Matt Kelly
The baseball landscape changed when David Ortiz signed with the Red Sox on Jan. 22, 2003. A promising slugger who couldn't find a permanent spot in the Twins' lineup, Ortiz transformed himself from a project to one of baseball's most formidable hitters nearly overnight -- and turned around the fortunes of a previously snake-bitten franchise.
As the baseball world prepares to say goodbye to Big Papi, here's a look at some of the most important facts and figures from his incredible career:
• Ortiz leads the Major Leagues with 524 doubles and has paced the American League with 483 home runs since joining the Red Sox in 2003. He also ranks in the top 10 among all MLB players with 1,133 walks (second), a .570 slugging percentage (second), 1,023 extra-base hits (second), 1,530 RBI (third), 148 OPS+ (fifth) and 2,079 hits (eighth) over that span.
• Ortiz's power numbers have been as consistent as anyone since he arrived in Boston. This season marked his 10th campaign with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, giving Ortiz more 30/100 seasons than any player in Red Sox history (Ted Williams is second with seven). That total of 10 is also tied with Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols for the most of any player in the Majors since 2003.
Ortiz's eight seasons with at least 30 doubles and 30 home runs is also the most in Red Sox history, and falls just behind the nine such seasons compiled by Cabrera and Pujols since 2003.
• There's no question Ortiz will be remembered as one of the greatest designated hitters to ever play the game. Among players who spent at least 50 percent of their careers as a DH, Ortiz tops the list in several offensive categories -- including home runs (541), doubles (632) and RBIs (1,768) -- and ranks near the top with a .552 slugging percentage (second), 2,472 hits (second), 1,419 runs scored (second), 1,319 walks (second) and a 141 OPS+ rating (third).
Ortiz has also tallied the most game-winning RBIs (212) and go-ahead RBIs (412) of anyone who's played the majority of his games as a DH since the AL instituted the position in 1973.
• Unsurprisingly, Ortiz ranks among the all-time best Red Sox hitters at Fenway Park. In the 104-year history of the ballpark, Ortiz ranks behind only Carl Yastrzemski in doubles (322), Williams and Yastrzemski in home runs (221) and is fifth in slugging percentage (.592).
Ortiz might have topped those categories had he started his career with the Red Sox, as he played in 152 fewer regular-season games than Williams and 663 fewer games than Yastrzemski at Fenway.
• Dating back to their debut season as the Boston Americans in 1901, the Red Sox owned a .512 franchise winning percentage through the 2002 season. Since Ortiz joined the club in '03, Boston has posted a .550 winning percentage.
Of course, Ortiz's impact on Boston's fortunes can be measured in more than just winning percentage. Before Ortiz's arrival, the Red Sox had won five World Series championships, nine AL pennants and five division titles (since 1969) through their first 102 seasons of Major League competition. During Ortiz's 14 seasons with the team, Boston has won three more AL East crowns, along with World Series titles in each of the three years they claimed the AL pennant (2004, '07 and '13) -- with a chance to add another this October. Call it the "Ortiz bump."
Ortiz's presence has also made a noticeable impact in the head-to-head matchup between the Yankees and Red Sox. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Boston's record was just 845-1,037 against New York during the rivalry's first century from 1903-2002, a winning percentage of just .449. But the two clubs have played to nearly a draw since Ortiz arrived, with Boston compiling a 128-132 mark for a .492 win percentage. The Red Sox were just 1-4 against the Yankees in postseason play prior to 2003, but have gone 7-7 against them in October with Ortiz on the team.
• Ortiz finished his career with 53 regular-season home runs against the Yankees, which is tied with Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg for the fourth-most round-trippers against the Bronx Bombers in baseball history. Big Papi also ranks fourth with 75 doubles against the Yankees, behind Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Sam Rice and Ty Cobb -- players whose careers all finished before World War II.
In September, Ortiz was quoted as saying that playing in front of booing fans at Yankee Stadium motivated him. The numbers back that up: Among players with 100 or more road games played in the Bronx, Ortiz's .547 slugging percentage ranks second in history behind his former lineup mate Manny Ramirez.
Ortiz's masterful play against the Yankees in October must also be mentioned. Big Papi's seven go-ahead RBIs against New York in the postseason is the most of any player in history, according to STATS LLC. He also ranks among the all-time top 10 with 17 RBIs (third) and five homers (tied for fourth) against the Red Sox's rivals in the most important games of the season.
• It wasn't just the Yankees who were terrorized by Ortiz in October. He ranks among the all-time top 10 in with 10 game-winning RBIs (second), 21 doubles (fourth), 40 extra-base hits (fourth), 60 RBIs (fifth), 17 homers (tied for seventh), 51 runs (ninth) and 87 total hits (10th) in the postseason. With one more playoff appearance remaining, Ortiz could rise even higher on those lists.
• How much respect has Ortiz commanded from opposing pitchers? Since the start of the 2003 season, Ortiz has been intentionally walked 196 times -- which ranks fourth behind only Pujols, Barry Bonds and Cabrera. That's even more impressive when you consider the caliber of hitters who batted behind Ortiz in the Red Sox's lineup over the years, from Ramirez to Mike Napoli and now AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts.
• When he completed his age-26 season, Ortiz had tallied 58 homers over the first six seasons of his career. That's the lowest total of any of the 27 members of the 500 home run club through their age-26 seasons. In fact, the average compiled by 500 home run club members through their age-26 season is 175 -- reflecting just how remarkable Ortiz's "late" push was. Rafael Palmeiro is the only other member with fewer than 100 homers (73) by the time he began his age-27 campaign.
• As has been noted in several places, Ortiz has compiled what could be considered the best final season ever at the plate. His 38 homers and 127 RBIs have set new standards for a Major League player in his final campaign, and his 5.0 offensive WAR rating, per Baseball-Reference, is the highest final-season rating of anyone besides the White Sox Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1920 (Jackson's career came to an abrupt end as a result of the Black Sox scandal).
At 40 years old, Ortiz's 333 total bases and 163 OPS+ in 2016 also ranks second behind Jackson for the highest marks by a player with at least 500 plate appearances in his final season. Jackson's career came to a close when he was just 32 years of age.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.