It is indeed awesome and wonderful watching David Ortiz blast his way through his final Major League season. At age 40, pushing through a last hurrah, Ortiz has a .312-10-34 line with a league leading .652 slugging percentage to go with a ridiculous 1.044 OPS.
In fact, Big Papi's final season reminds me of another Red Sox', when Ted Williams hit .316-29-72 during his final 1960 season, at age 41. With 513 homers to go with 600 doubles, Oritz will very likely join Williams in Cooperstown within the next decade.
Papi has become such a face of Boston, which is part of what makes his story so wonderful, and in fact, I am still trying to figure out why the Twins released the first baseman outright in 2002 following a pretty solid .272-20-75 season with a .839 OPS at age 26. I just cannot imagine what a team might be thinking in simply releasing such potential, but Boston did indeed see what Papi had to offer, signed him, and the rest, including three Series titles, is history as they say.
However, in the 20 years that Ortiz has been banging homers and boosting teams, he has never been a member of any of my fantasy teams. Big Papi is not alone, for some other players--Carlos Gomez, Jay Bruce, Rafael Palmeiro, Billy Hamilton spring to mind--have never graced my roster either.
I don't know about you, but while I look at players and numbers as the foundation of what I want for said dollars (or a snake draft selection), I also try to factor in upside and potential improvement over the previous season, balanced against the likelihood of a drop in numbers for whatever reason.
But, I have also held a sort of personal guideline that if a player had two less than stellar seasons, but a decent pedigree, that player was ripe for establishing himself (think Alex Gordon) while a player with a couple of good, and improved seasons might experience a correction, meaning don't pay too much for the resume.
Papi was always one of those guys, and by 2004, when he hit 41 homers, the price had simply gone too high for me in general. Plus, with each successive season, I felt a bad year was imminent. But, save a sort of blip in 2008 (.264-23-89) in a year that Ortiz hurt his wrist, Big Papi is just one of those hitters who could always hit.
So now, save some throw-in DFS plays here and there, Papi will ride off to the sunset without being on a roster of mine. He is, though, not alone as I have noted above with players who for some reason I dismissed. And, though I might have been wrong about them, once the dye was cast, well, these players never stood a chance.
For example, I was never a fan of either Jay Bruce or Adam Jones, and was discussing Jones just the other day with Todd.
"He has had pretty good numbers, but his on-base numbers just scare me," I noted to the esteemed Lord, finishing with, "and I am just sure he is living on balls in play that fall just right."
"True," retorted, Z, "save he is been living on those balls for six years now, so maybe he is better than you think."
Touche. But, once the fear of a bad season is there, it is difficult for me to shake.
When I started playing fantasy ball, Cal Ripken was already established as the best shortstop in the game, and in my AL-only set-up, he was worthy of a very high price. But he always cost upwards of 35 dollars for years. So, I always left the great Ripken alone, at least until his final year of play.
That year, 2001, happened to be my first year playing in Tout Wars. I remember nominating the then third sacker for a buck, and hearing crickets around the room, but this time, I realized a dollar pick of a full-time player was a good thing. And, the future Hall-of-Famer did get at-bats, but over the first half was hitting a meager .240-4-28. However, in July, the bat got hot and for the month Ripken was .368-5-16, earning my $1 investment right there. The Iron Man followed up with a passable .284-3-17, and helped me win my first title in the league.
There was no way I would have gotten Papi for a buck (Ortiz was $23 in Tout this year) but, well, I am sorry I never got to take advantage of the skills I knew the big first baseman had when the Twins let him go 15 years ago. And, I am indeed watching his curtain call with pleasure.