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What it takes to get David Ortiz home without a dinger

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If David Ortiz isn't hitting a dinger, he's probably not scoring except on those magical, rare occasions he manages to break the Bartolo Colon Baserunning Scale.

Lisa Blumenfeld

David Ortiz had four stolen bases last year.

This article is going to focus on Ortiz's baserunning or lack thereof, so it's only fair to start with that disclaimer. Four times last year, Ortiz decided to sneak-attack steal, and he was never caught. When he wants to run, he can do it. Kind of.

Now to this year. David Ortiz has scored 51 runs this year. He's hit 30 home runs. The closeness of the numbers is impressive. It's not going to be a record for a 30-homer season -- Tony Clark scored 47 runs in a 30-homer season in 2005 -- but this is the best look we've had at a low-run, high-dinger season since MLB Advanced Media has blessed us with embeddable video of every run scored.

Our job today is to find the most impressive run that Ortiz has scored this year.

First, we have to eliminate some contenders. Ortiz scored most of his runs off his own home runs, but he also scored some on other hitter's home runs. The following are out of contention:

April 11, @NYY
Grady Sizemore home run

April 20, BAL
Jonny Gomes home run

April 26, @TOR
A.J. Pierzynski home run

May 3, OAK
Jonny Gomes home run

August 15, HOU
Yoenis Cespedes home run

August 22, SEA
Yoenis Cespedes home run

And now we have to eliminate the easy scores -- the ones where Ortiz was on third when a single was hit, or on second when a double was hit. Bartolo Colon would have scored in these situations. Bartolo Colon carrying David Ortiz would have scored in most of these situations:

May 11 @TEX
A.J. Pierzynski single (Ortiz on third)

May 14 @MIN
Grady Sizemore double (Ortiz on third)

May 27 @ATL
Jackie Bradley, Jr. single (Ortiz on third)

June 13, CLE
Daniel Nava double (Ortiz on second)

July 9, CHW
Jonny Gomes double (Ortiz on second)

This leaves 10 -- 10! -- runs Ortiz has scored this year that might have been in doubt. We'll rank them and guess if Bartolo Colon would have scored on the same hit.

★★★

10. July 2 vs. CHC - Mike Napoli single

And the first chance we get to make fun of Ortiz's baserunning, we first have to stop and marvel that Mike Napoli got only a single out of this. Easy score for Ortiz.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 10

9. July 25 @TBR - Shane Victorino single

Same thing as above, except Victorino is supposed to be fast. How did he not turn this into a hustle double? Probably because he quit on the game because he's a bad teammate and nobody likes him.

(That's just a guess. Also, I don't like Shane Victorino, so I might be a touch biased.)

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 9

8. May 6 vs. CIN - Grady Sizemore single

Man, another single that should have been a ... oh, right.

The thing about this one is that I would have loved to see what would have happened if one of the outfielders fielded the ball cleanly. There were no outs, and Ortiz had to wait around and see if the ball was caught. Even after the carom got away from them, I would have enjoyed an attempt to get the ball in instead of looking up, real sad-like. There was almost no chance to make it close, but there was a sliver of a fraction of a chance.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 8

7. June 23 @SEA - A.J. Pierzynski sac fly

The only reason this ranks below the next one is because Ortiz didn't get a head start. He had to put his feet on the blocks and wait for the third base coach's whistle.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 8

6. May 1 vs. TBR - Grady Sizemore single

Never in doubt, seeing as the center fielder was playing Sizemore to go to the opposite field, but I love the full-steam hustle of Ortiz. He's not going to get thrown out on that ball, nosiree, so he's just jammin' around third. It was never close.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 6

5. May 10 @TEX - Jonny Gomes single

Choo thinks about it. For just a brief moment, he takes a peek. Yasiel Puig would have thrown it. Oh, how I wish that were Yasiel Puig who fielded the ball.

Also, please note: This standard, run-of-the-mill run is the fifth-most impressive run that David Ortiz has scored this year.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 4

4. August 24 vs. SEA - Mike Napoli grounder

I love the derring-do, here. Do the Red Sox ever put the contact play on for Ortiz? Or did Ortiz forget that the shift was on and figure that ball was ticketed for center field? I'm guessing something close to the latter. If there are two outs, I wonder if Brad Miller goes home. With no outs, he makes the smart, boring play to staunch the bleeding.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 2

3. April 23 vs. NYY - Wild pitch

Ortiz scoring on this wild pitch doesn't seem impressive, but consider the instincts involved. Ortiz knows he's not Billy Hamilton. He knows his limitations. Everyone gets mad at him for watching his home runs, but he's actually running full speed and thinks everyone's being mean for pointing it out.

When there's a wild pitch, Ortiz has to make a split-second decision. Is that far enough away for me to score? You take it for granted, but there are a lot of geometry and physics calculations going on in that brain, all within a fraction of a second. Ortiz bolted and made the right decision.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 2

2. August 9 @LAA - Mike Napoli reaches on E6

You know how announcers love to talk about speed-forced errors? Every time Ichiro would take second on a ball thrown into the stands, announcers would gush about how his speed ran up to the fielder and tickled him under his armpits, forcing the error.

This was a speed-forced error. It's not the classic speed-forced error, but it counts. Ortiz's speed made Aybar take his eye off the ball. Just like Ortiz planned. Probably.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: 1 (Aybar probably would have run the ball home.)

1. April 16 @CHW - A.J. Pierzynski sac fly

I used to have a 30-pound cat.

One day, I was on the phone and I saw this cat size up the eight-foot fence around the patio. He did the kitty-wigglebutt thing, stopped, then did it again. I didn't think anything of it because there was no way he was going to ... and then he jumped. He made it four feet up and landed in a pile of boxes. Also, he started the jump from a three-foot planter box.

But I admired his courage. This decision by Ortiz to go home wasn't quite as bold, but that's Adam Eaton out there, who has a great arm.


It was medium-deep, but Eaton wasn't catching it over his shoulder or anything. Ortiz still took off. And Eaton threw it to second. The only -- only -- explanation is that he forgot who was on third base. It happens. You have to catch the ball first, and if you hesitate for a moment, you have to get it back in to second.

And that's the story of how the 30-pound cat scaled the eight-foot fence. Well done, sir. Well done.

Likelihood that Bartolo Colon would have scored: -3