David Ortiz picked up three more hits Monday night to help propel the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory and bring them one win away from a third World Series title in the last decade.
Though the championship is still up for grabs, the MVP award may not be. Ortiz is having a World Series so unbelievable that, even if Boston were to drop the next two games, he would likely walk away with the consolation prize of MVP honors anyway.
Such a feat wouldn't be unprecedented. In 1960, the Yankees' Bobby Richardson became the first and only player from a losing team to be named MVP of the World Series. Richardson hit .367 with a 1.054 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) — including one home run and a couple of doubles and triples — while driving in 12 runs.
Richardson's performance was considered so impressive that he beat out the Pirates' Bill Mazeroski — even though Mazeroski hit a walk-off home run to end Game 7 and win the World Series, the only time in history that's happened.
Ortiz's production this year, though, is making Richardson's accomplishment seem piddling by comparison.
The Boston slugger tied a World Series record by reaching base in nine straight plate appearances, and he's within striking distance of setting new series records for batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging. He's hit two home runs and a pair of doubles, and is batting .733 with an otherworldly 2.017 OPS.
For reference, the Cardinals Matt Holiday leads his team with an even 1.000 OPS for the series.
Ortiz's numbers would be even better were it not for Carlos Beltran, who reached over the right field wall to pull back what would otherwise have been a Game 1 grand slam. And even if Ortiz goes hitless over the next two games, he would still finish with a batting average well over .400 and MVP-worthy numbers across the board.
As Howard Megdal pointed out over at Sports On Earth, Ortiz is locked into the best five-game stretch of his career, at least in terms of OPS. Meaning, this likely Hall of Famer is playing some of his best baseball ever right now.
"What planet is that guy from?" Red Sox catcher David Ross joked after Game 5.
If the Red Sox win, Ortiz is a lock to be named MVP. If they don't, though, someone on St. Louis will still have to step up and steal away the award.
You could make a case for Holliday, who has been by far the Cardinals' best offensive weapon. Except even with his two home runs, Holliday's OPS is half that of Ortiz's. Plus, he's struck out in a quarter of his plate appearances and has a batting average under .300.
Rookie starter Michael Wacha has been brilliant all postseason and could, with a fantastic start in Game 6 Wednesday, put his name in contention. Yet in six innings so far, he's given up four walks and posted a good-but-not-great 3.00 ERA.
In almost any other World Series, Holliday or Wacha, or maybe even Carlos Beltran, would be fine MVP choices. In this one, though, they all seem like long shots.
Ortiz has almost single-handedly carried the Red Sox to another title with his historic performance. It's his award to lose at this point.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The simple trick to making better decisions in every aspect of life
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Why America needs more billionaires
- The U.S. government is actually trouncing Ebola. When will it get credit?
- Why 2014 may be as good as it gets for the Republican Party
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week