David Ortiz Could be the Best Age-40 Hitter of All Time
Bartolo Colon made waves over the weekend by launching his first career home run at the ripe age of 42. And when it looks like this, who can blame people for getting in a tizzy?
Bartolo Colon hitting his first career homerun. You're welcome. (via @MLB)https://t.co/UpG0GJpPTN
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) May 8, 2016
Big fella is just getting started.
The only issue is that Colon's saucy exploits distracted from another 40-year-old slugger who was busy making his own history back in the same city where Colon plays his home games.
Big Papi. Big flies. Big numbers.
That home run was David Ortiz's second of the night and his third of the weekend as the Boston Red Sox avoided a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees. The double-dong performance was the first by a guy in his age-40 or later season since Todd Helton in 2013 and only the 80th total since 1913. With the three-homer weekend, Ortiz now has nine on the season, and it's further evidence that dude isn't slowing down even a little bit in his final season.
Ortiz's slash of .308/.393/.673 is awesome, but a lot of guys can sport lofty numbers across the board there in just 122 plate appearances. It's Ortiz's peripheral stats that drive home the point that we could be witnessing a mighty special season from one of the game's all-time best power hitters.
The table below shows some of the more quickly stabilizing stats for Ortiz thus far in the young season and compares them to what he did last year. Ortiz did get off to a slow start in 2015, but he rebounded and hit 37 dingers when all was said and done. He's starting to look as if he could exceed that number this year.
|Season||Hard-Hit Rate||Soft-Hit Rate||Fly-Ball Rate||Strikeout Rate||Walk Rate|
Ortiz is out-pacing his 2015 self in each batted-ball category, and his plate-discipline numbers are only slightly off where he was that year. If 30's the new 20, then 40's the new 30, and Ortiz is so hot still.
If those batted-ball numbers look lofty, it's because they're tickling greatness. Ortiz's hard-hit rate is the highest of his career, and he's currently third in the league in that category. His soft-hit rate is the lowest he's had since 2013, and his fly-ball rate is the best since 2009. He's a dong-dealing delight who's ready to bust out of the league in style.
Before Ortiz makes his final exit at the end of the season, he's got some work to do. Darrell Evans currently holds the record for the most home runs by a player in his age-40 season or later with 34, and he's the only guy who has hit at least 30. As long as he stays healthy, Ortiz could easily hit both of those thresholds with his batted-ball profile, and he could end up shattering Evans' record.
Let's try not to restrict Ortiz to merely one record, though. At his current pace, he could obliterate fifty 'leven of them without batting an eye.
Here, you can see various records for qualified batters in their age-40 season or later compared to where Ortiz is at right now. This almost doesn't even seem fair.
|Season||Doubles||Home Runs||On-Base Percentage||Slugging Percentage||wOBA|
The on-base percentage may be a bit out of reach, but the rest are totally doable. He might just mess around and double the slugging percentage record for funsies. I'm not about to put a cap on what this patron saint of swag can do.
We only have a few more months to watch Ortiz before he steps off the field for the last time, and that's a bit of a sad feeling. But at the same time, we get the chance to watch history as he launches massive tanks into the night sky. If he can keep doing what he's doing, Ortiz could end up with the best age-40 season a hitter has ever had, and I can guarantee that'd help cure some of the void of watching him exit.