David Ortiz‘s season has been so good that, mentally speaking, I’ve just been thinking of it as regular old in his prime Ortiz and not so much as 40-year-old, just a few weeks from retirement Ortiz. By not mentally adjusting for his age, I think I’ve been underrating his season. Because, for a 40-year-old, he’s breaking the model for performance, more or less.
The latest evidence of this: the fact that he broke the record for home runs in a season by a 40-year-old or older player. He hit his 35th in yesterday’s game against the O’s, which passes Darrell Evans’ 34, hit as a 40-year-old for the Detroit Tigers in 1987. If you’re curious, Barry Bonds didn’t break 30 in either of his last two seasons. In his 40-year-old season he hit only five due to injury.
On the year, Ortiz is hitting .317/.403/.630 with 35 homers and 118 RBI. That leads the league in slugging percentage and his 1.034 OPS leads the league as well. He’ll probably be a top 3 or top 5 MVP finisher as well.
And then he’ll retire.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.
The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.
The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.
Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.
Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.
In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.