Boston Red Sox: Who replaces David Ortiz as new face of the franchise?

The Boston Red Sox need a new face of the franchise in the wake of David Ortiz’s retirement. Which candidate is right for the role?

For the past dozen years or so, David Ortiz has served as the face of the Boston Red Sox. His postseason heroics on the path to a franchise altering World Series title in 2004 made him an icon in this city, launching a legacy that would only grow through the years and milestones.

When a new season opens next spring there will be a familiar face missing from the Red Sox clubhouse. Ortiz has closed the final chapter of his storied career, riding off into retirement to await the call to Cooperstown. In his absence, a new face of the franchise must be crowned.

Which current member of the roster has what it takes to represent this team?

There are a number of potential candidates, but two stand out in the crowd.

No, it’s not the highest paid player on the team. Honestly, I believe that David Price is due for a bounce-back year to quiet the critics that want to label his contract a mistake, but he has enough on his shoulders at the moment as he strives to prove those doubters wrong. The time isn’t right to make him “the guy” coming off a season most consider disappointing, at least by his lofty standards.

The choice boils down to essentially an old school versus new school debate between Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts.

Pedroia is the longest tenured player on the team, having debuted in 2006. He would capture the Rookie of the Year Award a year later, followed by an MVP campaign in his second full season. The veteran second baseman has earned the respect of fans through his dirt dog style of play, high motor and leadership. These qualities have also earned him the respect of his teammates and there’s no doubt that his voice is the one heard most among the players in the clubhouse.

He still hits at an All-Star caliber level and is on the verge of potentially adding another Gold Glove to his collection. Pedroia remains in peak form, while his tenure with the organization makes him perhaps the most recognizable player on the team.

Then there is Betts, who not only has established himself as the best player on the team, he may be the best player in the league. The 24-year old was supposed to be the future of this franchise, but the future has come early with Betts taking another massive leap into MVP consideration.

Public perception plays a role in determining the face of the franchise, which may favor a more charismatic player like Betts. He has an infectious smile that can light up a room, which contrasts with Pedroia’s down-to-business mentality. It’s easy to imagine Betts taking on the role Ortiz once had as the center of attention, while Pedroia’s cringe-worthy appearances in a long line of Sullivan Tire commercials makes you question if he’s fit to address the camera. Taking the spotlight off the field has never been a position Pedroia has seemed comfortable in, but is perhaps one Betts could grow into.

With Ortiz stepping aside, the torch needs to be passed to the next generation. For a few years it appeared that Pedroia would highlight that next wave and if Big Papi had stepped away a couple years ago then he would have been the clear choice as the only star player locked into a long-term role with this team.

With the emergence of Betts, this is now his team – especially if he takes home the MVP hardware to make him more of a household name among casual fans. Red Sox Nation needs a new hero to be their most popular player and this budding superstar has all the tools to fill that void.

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