Signed on back in 2003 as a defensive wizard, Ortiz had big shoes to fill as he moved into the starting 2nd base job. No one expected him to hit for power, get on base consistently, or score runs - Ortiz's role was purely as a defensive specialist who could hopefully pass as a decent hitter in the lineup. Ortiz started the season at the #8 slot, usually reserved for the worst hitter in the lineup. Having gone .257-.324-.421 in 2003 when he played half a season, and a .230-.296-.392 in only 25 games, the expectations weren't very high. Ortiz, however, surprised all of his critics when he went .289-.315-.488 in his first month, a line he would more or less stick to. Throughout the rest of the season, Ortiz would draw comparisons to a "Jeter with speed", as he hit a .284-.342-.460 line while knocking in a surprising 23 homeruns and stealing 58 bases. Like the real-life Jeter, however, Ortiz would really come to life once in the postseason, where he hit .422-.458-.688 in 64 at bats and hit 16 RBI and scored 12 runs, something which seemed to directly contradict his .173-.205-.212 line in close/late situations during the regular season. We'll have to see next season if his newfound hitting abilities are the real deal or some one-season fluke.
Statistics - Batting
It was a whirlwind year for Ortiz, coming off of his first full-time breakin to the majors, and trying to live up to a .284-.342-.460 season in which he hit 23 homers and stole 58 bases, exceeding what his talent ratings indicated. Ortiz quietly put up a .279-.349-.435 line in 2006 – slightly worse AVG, slightly better OBP, and a prodigious power dropoff. However, Ortiz became one of only three players on the team, and a select few elite in the league, to drive in 100 RBIs and score 100 Runs, with 104 RBIs and 128 Runs on the season. The story of the year, however, was Ortiz’s season-long race against Apple’s Ben Kenobi in an attempt for the Stolen Base title, and eventually, Aubrey Cubilo’s year-old SB record of 77. Ortiz trailed Kenobi for much of the season, and at the end of August had accumulated 53 steals – on pace for a career-high and possibly even the record, but still lagging behind Ben Kenobi’s 59 at the time. From then on, however, Ortiz put on the afterburners, and helped along with a .356 OBP in August and .377 OBP in September, swiped 38 more bags (19 in each month), leaving Ben Kenobi’s 13 combined steals in the dust. Ortiz finished with 91 steals to Kenobi’s 72, obliterating Cubilo’s record and setting a mark that no one but himself stands to approach anytime soon.
Statistics - Batting