Papi set to return; Iwakuma solid again 

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
10:30
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Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz seems pretty confident that he's ready for the big leagues again, even smacking a home run for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, and I certainly believe him. Ortiz fell out of my top 100 in mid-March only because concerns about his sore Achilles combined with his age made it seem likely there would be a few too many missed games. Perhaps that'll still be the case, but Ortiz is back sooner than expected, and, assuming the game is played given the ongoing situation in the city, he should be hitting cleanup in Boston's lineup Friday night against the Kansas City Royals. I wouldn't wait to activate him; he has had success against Royals right-hander James Shields in the past, with a .314 batting average, three home runs and more walks than strikeouts.

Those who have compared Ortiz to Philadelphia Phillies slugging first baseman Ryan Howard with the intention of predicting doom are missing some important points. Howard ruptured an Achilles tendon and required surgery, pretty much wasting his entire 2012 season, and he was hardly a stellar hitter the past few seasons anyway. Oh, he hit for power, and maybe will do so again (he's slugging .387 so far), but Ortiz has been improving with age in most areas and the nature of his heel woes are not similar, and that's why I think he'll return to the top of the OPS leaders pretty much immediately.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsThe only regular position player to post a better OPS than David Ortiz in 2012 was Joey Votto.
Ortiz hit .318 last season with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games. Extrapolate those numbers to a full season, or the roughly 145-150 games Ortiz tends to play, and it's well over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, pretty coveted numbers regardless of position. Plus, Ortiz drew more walks than strikeouts in 2012, which he hadn't done since 2007. His 2012 campaign was even better than the year prior, when he hit .309. This is not a player aging poorly. He didn't qualify for the batting title with his 383 plate appearances, but his 1.026 OPS bested everyone who did, including the great Miguel Cabrera, who led baseball at .999. Even if Ortiz had slumped to the .953 OPS he produced in 2011, it would have tied Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen for fifth.

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