Big Papi back to putting up big numbers

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Remember when David Ortiz was hitting just .185 with one homer through two months and people were quick to write him off as washed up? Turns out, not so much.
Ortiz went deep twice last night, including a walk-off blast that curled around Pesky Pole in the bottom of the ninth inning, and has now batted .257/.344/.566 with 21 homers, 35 total extra-base hits, and 59 RBIs in 70 games since June 1.
Here’s how those numbers stack up with the rest of the league during that time:

                  HR                        SLG                       RBI
DAVID ORTIZ       21      Kendry Morales   .612      Bobby Abreu       63
Russell Branyan   20      Miguel Cabrera   .578      DAVID ORTIZ       59
Carlos Pena       20      Adam Lind        .575      Kendry Morales    55
Kendry Morales    19      DAVID ORTIZ      .566      Russell Branyan   53
Aaron Hill        18      Hideki Matsui    .563      Juan Rivera       53

Since the calendar flipped to June, Ortiz has the league’s most homers, second-most RBIs, and fourth-highest slugging percentage. And we’re not just talking about a hot streak, as those totals are from nearly half a season’s worth of games. His overall stats remain mediocre and Ortiz obviously isn’t the MVP-caliber offensive force that he was from 2003-2007, but if the Red Sox get into the playoffs you can be certain that no one will be eager to pitch to him.
Incidentally, last night’s blast was the 10th walk-off homer of Ortiz’s career, which puts him two behind the all-time record of 12 shared by Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, and Jimmie Foxx. What, you were expecting Kurt Bevacqua?

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.