Don’t Hate, Appreciate, Reggie: Comparing Mr. October and Señor Octubre
By Seth Schuster
The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions once again, thanks to the contributions of “Big Papi” David Ortiz. Ortiz, fresh off of winning his third World Series Championship as a member of the Red Sox, was soon bestowed with an honor that had eluded him twice before – World Series MVP. Ortiz lost out on the honor in 2004 to Manny Ramirez, and in 2007 to Mike Lowell, but there was no doubt as to who was taking home the hardware this October. This time, Ortiz not only had a World Series worthy of discussion for the award, but also as one of the best postseason hitters of all time. His name now graces lists full of great postseason hitters, most notably Reggie Jackson, also known as “Mr. October.” Papi hit a stellar .688 this World Series featuring two homeruns, six RBIs, with a slugging percentage of 1.188, an OBP of .760, while only striking out once in 16 at-bats. This added to his nearly incomparable career World Series resume of a .455 batting average, a .576 OBP, and a .795 slugging percentage. He has 14 RBIs in 14 World Series contests.
Reggie Jackson, “Mr. October,” won five World Series rings over the course of his career, batting .357, with a .457 OBP, and a .755 slugging percentage. Jackson also had 10 homers and 24 RBIs in his World Series career. Jackson’s numbers, compared to Ortiz’s statistics are very close, but fall slightly short of the mark when discussing World Series competition. The only edge Reggie seems to have is the power numbers, where his homerun totals edges Papi by seven and his RBI total bests Ortiz’s by 10. Jackson, however, played in one more WS than Ortiz (Jackson tore his hamstring in the 1972 ALCS, and subsequently did not play in that year’s Series).
Now it’s important to remember that although Ortiz’s numbers may best Jackson’s in the World Series, the moniker “Mr. October” was earned due to Reggie’s spectacular play throughout the entire month.
Reggie hit .278 in his postseason career, tallying 18 homeruns and 48 RBIs in 77 appearances.
Papi is a .295 hitter in his postseason career with 17 homers and 60 RBIs in 82 games.
Ortiz has one less total homerun, and has played five more postseason games, he has 12 more RBI’s than Jackson does on his resume. Jackson hit an average of 0.6 RBIs per game in his postseason career, and even with the added five games his RBI total, would still only be 51, still nine less than Ortiz’s current total. Now, let’s play devil’s advocate for just a minute here. We shouldn’t dub Ortiz “Mr. October” just yet. Although his stats are extraordinary, Ortiz’s name has been linked to Performance Enhancing Drugs in the past.
In 2009, reports surfaced about a failed MLB drug test in 2003. The source was never able to provide any evidence of the failed test, and more importantly, it never reported the drug that Ortiz had allegedly tested positive for. Ortiz, the character guy he his, brushed off the allegations and continued to do the talking with his bat – especially in the postseason. After a name is linked to PEDs, however, it is hard to make that connection disappear even if Ortiz never actually broke any rules. The mere allegation will always linger and serve as a backdrop. The PED link will most likely stay with Ortiz quietly for the rest of his baseball career, whether the rumors are true or not. The connection will most likely be a deciding factor in whether Papi, arguably the greatest Designated Hitter of all time, is enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown somewhere down the road. The only other Designated Hitter who has ever received HOF considerations is Frank Thomas, whose numbers aren’t even comparable to David’s. Could Papi’s postseason statistics drive him up to Cooperstown? It’s might, but we’re not sure. What we do know, however, is that Ortiz “Lives for this,” and it is evident that he does, the man thrives on the crisp October air. The decision on Ortiz’s HOF fate could come down to two deciding factors -PEDs, and postseason play.
He certainly has the numbers to support his case. He certainly has the numbers to be called “Mr. October,” but out of courtesy to Mr. Jackson who said it was “Silly” to call Ortiz “Mr. October.” Let’s call “Big Papi” David Ortiz, “Señor Octubre.” Maybe someday we will call Ortiz “Cooperstown.” He certainly has the numbers to do it. And the numbers never lie.
Seth Schuster is a student at Blind Brook High School in Westchester, New York. He is an avid sports fan, who knows it all when it comes to the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and Boston Bruins. Yup, that’s right – a Boston sports fan living in New York! Seth’s favorite all-time athletes include David Ortiz, Tom Brady, and Paul Pierce. Follow Seth on Twitter for all your Boston Sports updates at @redsoxseth