FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where the full squad officially takes the field for the first time this spring. It’s a bit anticlimactic, given that so many players showed up early and have been working out for a while now, but this will be the Full Monty -- the owners are in the house, the crowds should be bigger, and it will have that first-day-of-school feeling.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is expected to address the media at some point Thursday, and it’s possible that CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner weigh in as well. And David Ortiz will be back to talk some more about his contract (Just kidding). What should not be overlooked amid all the contract talk is the fact that Ortiz, who was barely running at this point last spring, feels great physically.
Ortiz finished last season with an .OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) of .959, the fourth highest in baseball. Only Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Mike Trout finished ahead of the Red Sox designated hitter. What is the likelihood he can come close to that performance in the next couple of years?
There have been 19 players 38 years or older who have had seasons with an .OPS of .900 or better: Ted Williams, Cy Williams, Mickey Vernon, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell, Matt Stairs, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Edgar Martinez, Bob Johnson, Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb, Fred Clarke, Barry Bonds, Harold Baines, Moises Alou and Hank Aaron. That number drops to a dozen at age 39.
Bonds did it four times at 38 or older, a performance that must be placed in a PED context. Williams did it three times -- including a 1.096 OPS at age 41 in 1960, his last season. Stargell, Collins and Aaron did it twice apiece.
Ortiz also had a 4.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in 2013, which ranked 37th last season. There have been 22 players 38 years or older with a WAR of 4, 15 players 39 or older. Ted Williams had an incredible WAR of 9.7 at age 38 in 1958, when he posted a slash line of .388/.526/.731/1.257.
The first scheduled activity for position players Thursday is base-running, followed by a throwing program for infielders and outfielders and individual defense.
The batting groups:
* Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, Travis Shaw, Heiker Meneses.