It's funny how rational and sensible reality eventually plays itself out over inexplicability, especially in baseball.
A line drive, opposite-field, inside-out hitter, cast off by the Minnesota Twins, lands in Boston and immediately becomes one of the most powerful and prolific sluggers in baseball. A man who had never reached 30 home runs in his career, never collected 100 RBIs, and never had an OPS over .839 suddenly crushed out 31, 101, and posted an OPS of 961 during his first year in Boston (2003). In his second season with the BoSox he ripped out 41 homers, 139 RBIs, and hit over .300 for the first time in his career (.301), powering Boston to their first World Series championship in nearly a century.
And the big man didn't stop there. Ortiz continued his metamorphosis into a Babe Ruth facsimile, climaxing in his destructive 2006 season. That year David would nearly tear old Fenway down with his blistering clouts, smashing out a league-leading 54 home runs and 137 RBIs and finishing with an OPS of 1.049. Along with Manny Ramirez, Ortiz was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball and a king in his home town of Boston, with two World Series rings gleaming from his proverbial crown.
But then suddenly it all fell apart, and fast. At age 31, one season removed from his 54-homer year, Ortiz hit 19 fewer home runs and drove in 20 fewer runs in his follow up campaign. He was still an offensive force — posting a career high .332 batting average, .445 OBP and a 1.066 OPS — but it was clear that the power David displayed in 2006 was suddenly depleted.
2008 furthered the slugger's power outage, as Ortiz dropped from 35 dingers in '07 to 23 in an injury-plagued '08. He managed only 89 RBIs and hit a meager .264. His once touted bat speed seemingly vanished. Even David's OBP fell to .369, tying his lowest mark during his run with Boston. Coupled with his mediocre .877 OPS, it was clear that something was different about David Ortiz. Many felt it was the absence of Manny Ramirez and the protection he provided in the lineup. An interesting hypothesis, but hardly a valid explanation for his massive decrease in output.