Where David Ortiz's Epic World Series Ranks Among the Best of All Time
The Boston Red Sox have won their third World Series in 10 years after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. While the entire offense finally came alive in the clinching game, there is no doubt David Ortiz was the story of the Fall Classic.
To the surprise of no one, Ortiz was named MVP of the 2013 World Series. There was some competition from teammate Jon Lester, but his two games couldn't compare to the game-to-game brilliance of Big Papi.
Ortiz nearly set a new World Series record by reaching base 19 times, falling just short of Barry Bonds' all-time mark set in 2002 (21). No matter how you slice it, this was as good a single performance as we have seen from a player in any playoff series.
Sometimes it is best to let a game or series or moment sink in to properly define it in historical context, but Ortiz was so far beyond everyone else in the 2013 World Series that I feel confident expanding on his historical significance.
In order to properly evaluate Ortiz's 2013 World Series, we need to know what came before it. Here are, in my estimation, the five best Fall Classic performances before Big Papi, in Major League Baseball history.
|Player, Team, Year||G||IP||H||ERA||K-BB|
|Curt Schilling/Randy Johnson, AZ, 2001||6||38.2||21||1.41||45-5|
|Sandy Koufax, LAD, 1965||3||24.0||13||0.38||29-5|
|Player, Team, Year||G||AVG||OBP||SLG||HR||RBI||K-BB|
|Barry Bonds, SF, 2002||7||.471||.700||1.294||4||6||3-13|
|Hideki Matsui, NYY, 2009||6||.615||.643||1.385||3||8||3-1|
|Reggie Jackson, NYY, 1977||6||.450||.542||1.250||5||8||4-3|
Which World Series performance was the best?
I counted Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson as one because there really wasn't a way to separate their importance to the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. This is also my opinion, so I can use the rules that I want.
Sandy Koufax had two outstanding showings in the 1963 and 1965 World Series, but I went with the latter for two reasons. First, he was a bit better in '65, starting three games including wins in Game 5 and Game 7.
Oh yeah, Koufax threw complete-game shutouts in both of those games against the Minnesota Twins.
Throughout baseball history, there have been 109 World Series played, so trying to whittle a list of great performances down is no easy feat. I could have picked five different names in history and been satisfied.
However, these were the stars that did the most to help their team win while simultaneously doing something we have never seen before or only get to see once in a generation.
A lot of recent talk centered around whether Cardinals manager Mike Matheny should give Ortiz the Bonds treatment, which means not giving him anything to hit. That wound up happening in Game 6, with Ortiz generating four walks, including three times intentionally in consecutive at-bats in the third and fourth innings.
Yet for all the great things Ortiz did for the Red Sox, his numbers don't even compare to Bonds, at least for me. Even though Bonds had another game to work with, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is incredible AND he was able to hit four home runs and two doubles in just 17 at-bats.
All Reggie Jackson did was set a World Series record with five home runs in 1977 vs. the Dodgers, including three on three pitches in the clinching Game 6. Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley tied the record in 2009 in a loss to the Yankees.
Hideki Matsui's 2009 World Series tends to get overlooked because he doesn't have the name cache of other players listed above, but the Japanese star put up the best OPS of anyone listed (2.027). He also had one of the great games in World Series history, going 3-for-4 with one home run and six RBI in Game 6.
To me, if I were to put these incredible showings in order, it would look like this:
|1. Barry Bonds||San Francisco Giants, 2002|
|2. David Ortiz||Boston Red Sox, 2013|
|3. Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson||Arizona Diamondbacks, 2001|
|4. Sandy Koufax||Los Angeles Dodgers, 1965|
|5. Reggie Jackson||New York Yankees, 1977|
|6. Hideki Matsui||New York Yankees, 2009|
Bonds and Ortiz are very close, which is remarkable when you look at how great both of them were in their respective years.
Some might want to ding Bonds because the Giants didn't win the 2002 World Series, while everyone else on the list got a ring. I will offer the same argument here I do for the regular-season MVP: you can't fault one player because his teammates weren't good enough.
Ortiz's 2013 World Series is in the pantheon of great performances, brought a championship back to Boston and deserves all the accolades it will receive.
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