The 2013 World Series gives baseball fans a glimpse at a historic matchup. Not only is it a contest between two of baseball’s oldest franchises, but it’s a chance to see two of the game’s greatest playoff performers as they compete on the big stage.
Boston’s David Ortiz and St. Louis’s Carlos Beltran rank in the all-time top ten of many postseason statistical categories. Ortiz is 9th in runs scored, 6th in total bases, 4th in doubles, 5th in RBIs, and 7th in walks. Beltran is 8th in slugging and OPS, and 9th in homers. If you look at other names on those lists, you’ll see hall-of-famers, future hall-of-famers, and legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Jim Thome.
Beltran burst onto the playoff scene in 2004. A trade deadline acquisition from the Kansas City Royals, Beltran helped the Houston Astros get into the playoffs, then did everything he could to get them into the World Series. He put up video game numbers in the NLDS. In 5 games, he hit .455/.500/1.091 with 4 homers and 9 RBIs. The Cardinals were smart – they pitched him carefully in the NLCS, walking him 8 times. When Carlos did get a pitch to hit however, he continued his scorching-hot hitting, batting .417/.563/.958 with 4 more homers. And just for good measure, he stole 4 bases. But the Cards would edge Houston in 7 games.
In his 4-year playoff career (including this season), Beltran is hitting .339/.448/.714 with 16 home runs. He had 6 RBIs in the NLDS and another 6 in the NLCS. Despite playing with injured ribs (a result of a catch that robbed Ortiz of a grand slam), Beltran came through with an RBI single in Game 2 of this year’s World Series.
His one blemish will always be his final at-bat of the 2006 NLCS. Down 3-1, the New York Mets got two baserunners on. After a strikeout by Cliff Floyd and a lineout by Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca walked to load the bases. Facing then-rookie Adam Wainwright, Beltran took three pitches, including a nasty curveball for strike three. Even clutch hitters fail every now and then.
Ortiz cut his playoff teeth in 2002 with the Minnesota Twins. he went 8 for 29 with 4 RBIs and 10 strikeouts. But his reputation was built as a member of the Red Sox, especially against the New York Yankees. In 2003, he hit .269/.367/.538 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs. His performance wasn’t enough to keep New York out of the World Series that year, but in 2004, he was instrumental in bringing the Sox back from a 3-games-to-none deficit against them in the ALCS. Seemingly every time Boston needed a clutch hit, Big Papi was there to deliver it. He hit .387 with 3 homers and 11 RBIs against the Bronx Bombers. He continued on to help the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918.
Like Beltran, he’s at it again this year. He turned the ALCS around against the Detroit Tigers with a late grand slam off of Joaquin Benoit. Until that point, the Red Sox were absolutely stymied by Detroit pitching. It was 1 of only 2 hits by Ortiz in the ALCS, but it was a big one. He’s 4 for 6 with 2 homers so far in the World Series.
For his 8-year playoff career, Ortiz has a career .281/.388/.540 slash line with 17 home runs and 59 ribbies.
So enjoy and appreciate this matchup of two of the best playoff hitters of all time. When all is said and done, it could very well be Beltran or Ortiz who comes through with the big hit that leads their team the 2013 World Championship.