There is one, and only one, player on the Red Sox [team stats] roster who is meeting every expectation placed upon him.
Asked to lead in the clubhouse, he is their leader.
Asked to anchor the heart of the batting order, he is mashing the ball with astounding consistency.
Asked to play on yet another one-year deal, he is making his $14.575 million salary look like a bargain.
He is David Ortiz [stats], the most valuable player on this 2012 Red Sox team, and without him, it is scary to imagine the dire straits they would be in right now.
With him, the team has bought time for everyone else to go through their collective identity crises.
Ortiz, who hit a grand slam and scored from first on a double in last night’s 15-5 laugher over the Marlins, is the one and only man on the Red Sox this season.
“He’s the guy,” Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “I mean if, obviously, we were in first place, he’d be the guy that everybody would be talking about because he’s been so consistently excellent the entire year. I mean it’s hard to be excellent, it’s hard to have a consistency about you and for 60-plus games, and day in and day out, he’s brought it.”
Ortiz now has 18 home runs, and the only other Red Sox in double figures is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, five behind. His 49 RBI are nine more than Mike Aviles, his .614 slugging percentage is 60 points higher than Saltalamacchia’s. His .397 on-base percentage is topped only by Daniel Nava at .449, but Nava has nearly 150 fewer at-bats.
He is a one-man act, something he never had to do when Manny Ramirez [stats] was wandering around this ballpark, and it is a performance he was not expected to shoulder alone this year.
He was supposed to have close, close company from Adrian Gonzalez. That did not exactly work out, with Gonzalez so far producing a wan five home runs, 36 RBI, .396 slugging percentage and .312 on-base percentage.
Gonzalez is a shell of himself.
Ortiz is in his element.
With three home runs in his last three games, he is not only maintaining his consistent level of production this season but he is, lately, improving on it.
In this lineup, without Gonzalez essentially, it is mind-boggling that both National and American League pitchers continue to throw fastballs, never mind strikes, to him while he is at the plate.
“I’m just taking what they give me, I’m trying not to waste that pitch that I see,” Ortiz said. “I don’t get that many opportunities over the plate, so I’m just trying to be patient on that one pitch they give me to hit.”