Major League Baseball
Is David Ortiz the most clutch hitter in MLB history?
Major League Baseball

Is David Ortiz the most clutch hitter in MLB history?

Published Feb. 4, 2022 6:05 p.m. ET

By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst

It was the night of Oct. 13, 2013. I was in the stands at Fenway Park on that brisk evening for Game 2 of the ALCS between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox

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David Ortiz stepped to the plate in what was easily the biggest at-bat of the series. 

Tensions were at an all-time high in the park, but with just one swing of the bat, the series could dramatically shift in favor of the Red Sox. 

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The part that will stick with me forever, however, is the buzz of the crowd as Big Papi walked to the plate.

To best explain it, I will say this … You just knew.

You just knew what was going to happen as he stepped in the box against Tigers reliever, Joaquín Benoit.

It didn’t take long.

The first pitch he saw from Benoit, an 86-mph splitter, Ortiz sent deep to right field.

Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter was tracking it, running back to the wall, he leaped high in the air … Gone. 

Fenway Park was shaking. It was the loudest I have heard a crowd in my entire life, at any sporting event. Hunter flipped over the wall, the police officer in the bullpen threw his hands in the air, and the rest is history. 

Last October, I had both Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez on my podcast, "Flippin Bats," and I asked Big Papi about that home run.

"The one thing I know is that I cursed that cop," Ortiz said. "He can’t move down the street in Boston without having to pose with his arms up in the air for a photograph."

That monumental home run tied the game in the eighth inning and led to an eventual Red Sox win and series victory. Boston went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in six games to win the 2013 World Series. 

In what turned out to be one of the most iconic moments in Fenway Park history, the one thing I remember like it was yesterday is that you just knew it was going to happen.

There are many other moments throughout Big Papi's career that helped define just how clutch of a hitter he truly was, including several unforgettable hits during the 2004 ALCS and World Series that helped Boston end its 86-year championship drought.

And yes, after defeating the Tigers in that memorable 2013 ALCS matchup, Big Papi went on to hit .688 in the Red Sox's World Series triumph over the Cardinals. In that series, he had four multi-hit games, two homers, eight walks, and one strikeout.

All of these memorable moments came late in the postseason, when games mattered the most.

Last week, Ortiz was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He was a great player on the field and is an even better person off the field. He was a feared hitter who is now immortalized in baseball history. 

All of this is what makes Ortiz is the most clutch hitter that the game of baseball has ever seen.

Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the "Flippin' Bats" podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @Verly32.

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