David Ortiz Back to Vintage Form as Boston Red Sox Climb Atop the AL East

Christopher GaspariniContributor IJune 9, 2011

Ortiz is all business in 2011
Ortiz is all business in 2011Elsa/Getty Images

With all of the hype surrounding the Red Sox after the signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, along with the black cloud that hovered over the World Series favorites after the first month of play, the Red Sox sit atop the AL East with a little help from an old friend, David Ortiz.

You could argue that Big Papi is having the quietest season of his Red Sox career.  With the past few years of mediocre production behind him, He's now looking like vintage Papi as of late.  In his last 10 games, Ortiz is batting .429 with five homers, 11 RBI and has only struck out three times.  If those do not catch your eye, Ortiz had a monstrous May, batting .342 with 10 homers, 16 RBI and a .694 slugging percentage. 

After a slightly better April than the past two years—.267 with two homers and a slugging percentage of, .395—you could say Ortiz enjoys the warm weather, and would rather look past New England's cold and windy spring he has endured over the past nine years with Boston.

Now, Ortiz is not a fine wine, he is not getting better with old age, but you could say he's getting a little help from a new friend, Adrian Gonzalez.  Both of them are lefties, one a hitter is his prime, the other on his decline, but neither is struggling at the plate.  This is my first full year of seeing Gonzo play.  I mean, who else was staying up to watch a west coast game unless you're some fantasy baseball nut diagramming every hit by the talented first basemen. 

But, I can tell you one thing: Gonzo is not shy on giving Ortiz hitting tips this year, and you know what, it's exactly what #34 needed.  Well, that and another big bat to shy the attention away from him. 

It's almost a little scary to think that if Ortiz was a few years younger, the two could have done significant damage across the American League.  It's almost like his years with Manny.  A tag team of sluggers, but this time, one without the shenanigans and locker room drama a certain (cough, cough) player brought years ago.