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At 37, Ortiz's production defies his age

Posted by David D'Onofrio  September 27, 2013 07:40 AM

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If he homers at some point over the course this upcoming series in Baltimore, while managing not to go 0-for-15 otherwise, David Ortiz will finish this season with at least 30 home runs, 100 runs batted in and a .300 batting average -- which is something he hasn't done since 2007.

He was 31 then, and is 37 now, yet he remains among the American League's most prolific and productive hitters. Entering the regular season's final weekend, Ortiz and reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera are the only two hitters who appear among the AL top 10 in all three triple crown categories, and over the past two seasons Cabrera (1.037) is the only hitter in all of baseball who has a higher OPS than does the man known as Big Papi (.983).

Of the 14 hitters with an OPS of better than .900 since the start of 2012, nobody else is currently older than 30. Seven of them are right now between 25-29, which makes sense given that many say a hitter's peak comes at 27 -- and which makes all the more illogical what Ortiz is doing at an age a full decade more advanced.

Beyond the idea that his body is fresher than those of most 37-year-old baseball players because he's spent most of his career as a designated hitter, we can't explain why he's enjoying this level of success, particularly after looking finished over parts of 2008 and '09. We'll let you reach your own conclusions.

But whatever the reason, Ortiz is coming to the conclusion of a outstanding 2013 season that has him on the cusp of doing things he hasn't done in six years, and has put his name all over the AL leaderboards -- and that is all the more remarkable because he was born way back on Nov. 18, 1975. Here's a look at some of the categories in which he has top-10 numbers this year, and how his age makes him the outlier compared to the others on those lists:

2013 - Ortiz numbers by age.xlsx

Batting average
Ortiz, .307, 6th
Average age of top 10: 30.0
Average age, minus Ortiz: 29.2
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 2

On-base percentage
Ortiz, .395, 4th
Average age of top 10: 29.6
Average age, minus Ortiz: 28.8
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 2

Slugging percentage
Ortiz, .561, 3rd
Average age of top 10: 29.7
Average age, minus Ortiz: 28.9
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 2

On-base plus slugging (OPS)
Ortiz, .956, 4th
Average age of top 10: 29.8
Average age, minus Ortiz: 29.0
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 2

Adjusted OPS+
Ortiz, 158, 4th
Average age of top 10: 29.5
Average age, minus Ortiz: 28.7
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 1

Total bases
Ortiz, 285, 10th
Average age of top 10: 28.1
Average age, minus Ortiz: 27.2
Median age of top 10: 27
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 3

Doubles
Ortiz, 38, 9th
Average age of top 10: 27.8
Average age, minus Ortiz: 26.9
Median age of top 10: 28
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 2

Home runs
Ortiz, 29, 8th
Average age of top 10: 30.8
Average age, minus Ortiz: 30.2
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 4

Runs batted in
Ortiz, 100, 7th
Average age of top 10: 28.5
Average age, minus Ortiz: 27.6
Median age of top 10: 28
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 3

Walks
Ortiz, 76, 6th
Average age of top 10: 29.0
Average age, minus Ortiz: 28.2
Median age of top 10: 29
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 1

Intentional walks
Ortiz, 27, 1st
Average age of top 10: 30.0
Average age, minus Ortiz: 29.2
Median age of top 10: 30
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 1

Runs created
Ortiz, 109, 7th
Average age of top 10: 29.2
Average age, minus Ortiz: 28.3
Median age of top 10: 29.5
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 2

Extra-base hits
Ortiz, 69, 5th
Average age of top 10: 27.6
Average age, minus Ortiz: 26.6
Median age of top 10: 27
Players 35+ in AL's top 50: 3

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Dave D'Onofrio is a sports journalist who focuses on the Red Sox and Patriots, and also writes Boston.com's "Off The Field" blog about what Boston's sportsmen do away from the More »

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