Some careers end with a bang, while others end with a whimper.

That bang you just heard came off David Ortiz‘s bat.

Six games into his farewell season with the Boston Red Sox, Big Papi looks like the same game-changing slugger Beantown fans have grown to love and worship over the past decade-plus.

Sure, Boston lost 9-5 Tuesday night to the surprising, still-undefeated Baltimore Orioles. But Ortiz kept right on raking, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBI.

That raised his average for the young season to .346, to go along with three homers, nine RBI and a gaudy 1.239 OPS.

Oh, it’s April. We’re squarely in the realm of small samples. Colorado Rockies rookie Trevor Story probably won’t eclipse 200 home runs, for example, despite his current pace. 

Ortiz, however, isn’t some untested kid on an unsustainable hot streak.

He’s one of the best power hitters of his generation, doing the things he’s always done. The things we’ve come to take for granted.

Yes, he turned 40 in November. Yes, Father Time bats 1.000. But right now, Papi looks like a man who can defy the date on his driver’s licenseand the odds.

If anything, he’s aging like a fine wine.

Last year, Ortiz clubbed 37 home runs—his highest total since 2006. And he’s eclipsed 30 homers and 100 RBI in each of the last three campaigns. 

The end can come abruptly and at any time, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan outlined:

Through 39, David Ortiz hasn’t changed very much. He’s protected much of his game from the usual consequences of age, and for that reason, we should expect that 40 will bring its own share of glorious moments. Of course, you can seldom really tell when a player is on the verge of collapse. Edgar Martinez held up through 40 before coming apart at 41. It’s a thin line between successful and unproductive.

Additionally, the 162-game grind is long, even for a designated hitter. Injury or a protracted slump could swiftly derail Ortiz’s swan song.

This game isn’t a cake walk, as Ortiz himself has admitted.

“He always had a smile on his face, but with a real recognition that the game doesn’t come easy to him, either,” former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said recently, per Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. “You sit down and talk to him, and you’ll hear, ‘Hitting is hard, bro. Hitting is hard.’ He really had to work at it, and he’s a self-made man in a lot of ways.”

That work ethic helped bring a trio of championships to a perennially cursed franchise. Now, on the heels of two consecutive last-place finishes, can Ortiz return the Red Sox to postseason glory one last time?

The American League East is a balanced division, with flawed-yet-dangerous contenders top to bottom. An array of factors—the back of the starting rotation, the emergence of young hitters—will help determine Boston’s fate.

But Big Papi can play his part. He can keep raking and possibly guide his team on one more October run.

If he doesn’t, his goodbye tour will still make headlines and evoke emotions. We already got one misty-eyed moment when his 15-year-old daughter, Alex, sang the national anthem at the Red Sox’s home opener Monday.

“I was nervous,” the elder Ortiz said of the surprise performance, per’s Ian Browne. “I was dying. It wasn’t even about me. It was about her.”

Big Papi’s final go-round, on the other hand, is about him. Sure, it’d be extra special if the Red Sox hoisted another trophy. And no, a stellar final stat line from Ortiz wouldn’t erase the sting of another losing season.

But this is his grand exit no matter whatassuming he doesn’t change his mind and return for 2017.

So far, he appears determined to end with a bang. 


All statistics current as of April 12 and courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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