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David Ortiz becomes the all-time hit leader among designated hitters

Jul 11, 2013, 8:53 AM EDT

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners Getty Images

David Ortiz is in the middle of perhaps the best season of his career and had another big game last night. Big for its own sake and big for the milestone he passed: Otiz is now the all-time hit leader among designated hitters.

Ortiz passed Harold Baines on the list, rapping his 1,689th hit as a DH.

Nice touch: after the scoreboard at Safeco Field noted the accomplishment, the Seattle fans gave Ortiz a standing ovation. If anyone appreciates a good DH its Seattle, where Edgar Martinez plied his trade.

So far the Hall of Fame doors have been shut to Edgar Martinez, with the thinking being that a DH is somehow not deserving of a spot in Cooperstown. Or, at the very least, that a DH’s offensive contributions need to be head and shoulders above that of other players given his lack of defensive value. I don’t subscribe to this inasmuch as being one of the few best at your position should get you into the Hall, regardless of what that position entails. I think Edgar passes muster. I think David Ortiz certainly does too.  And I think both of them should be, and one day will be, in the Hall of Fame.

  1. manifunk - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    And yet he’s still not as good as Edgar

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      Disregard the thumbs down funk. Cause’ you are on point (in my opinion).

    • pinkfloydprism - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Hit-wise he is… HR-wise he is…

  2. buffalomafia - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Salut’! To Ortiz!

  3. zackd2 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    But I’ve been taught that PEDs = no HOF by media everywhere.
    Then again they all like Papi so I guess that doesn’t count.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      Not by me. I think Barry Bonds should be in the Hall.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:07 AM

        I tend to be more conservative on who gets in the hall than most. I’m not one who thinks no steroid players would be in (I would vote for Bonds, not Sosa or McGwire, etc.) but it would factor into the equation in my mind. I’m curious if you feel like Ortiz would be a hall of famer in your book, given his lack of a position and incredibly likely steroid use.

    • joestemme - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Really have enjoyed Ortiz as a player. His numbers may be on a par with Martinez, but the fact that he played so well on the big stages in the playoffs and two World Series is what makes him HOF worthy (would Joe Namath have even sniffed the Hall if it weren’t for that Super Bowl?). Fair or not, playoff and World Series success is a definate factor in voters’ minds.
      Unfortunately, there is the PED asterisk. So, if Bonds, Clemens etc. don’t get in, neither will Ortiz.

  4. dan1111 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    I don’t think DHs need to have offense “head and shoulders above other players” to make the hall. The value of their contribution is not much different than bad defensive left fielders and first basemen who are just in the lineup for their bats, and those types of players make the Hall regularly.

    On the other hand, I don’t think the top few DHs should get in just because they are the best at their position–because DH isn’t really a position; it is the lack of a position. Therefore, their offensive production needs to be compared to every other position. Ortiz shouldn’t get in just because he is a top DH, if there are a dozen first basemen with better stats.

    This is especially true because there are few players who DH their whole career. Ortiz has certainly been great, but the main reason he has “most hits as a DH” is because hardly anyone has been a DH for as long as he has. In some sense it would be rewarding him for being more exceptionally bad at defense then other sluggers.

    All that said, I always thought Ortiz started too late to make the Hall of Fame, but with his resurgence in the last few years, his case is a lot better than I realized.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      DH is as much a position as relief pitcher.

      • dan1111 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        Is relief pitcher a position? They are not a “position player”. Is utility infielder a position? Or is it one player who plays multiple positions?

        There are multiple meanings, but at least one of the meanings of position is “defensive role played in the field”. Position is an important consideration when comparing offensive production, because a certain set of defensive skills is necessary to stay in the lineup at a given position. In this sense, DHs don’t have a position. In theory any player could shift to DH and provide the same amount of defensive value in that role, so DHs need to be compared to all players, not just other DHs, when their offense is evaluated. That is the point I was trying to make.

        I am not trying to repeat the cranky “DHs only play half the game, so they are only partial players and shouldn’t get in the Hall!” argument. I hope that was clear.

      • dan1111 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        Oops, I meant “same amount of offensive value”…

  5. aceshigh11 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    I dunno…If Edgar is getting no love from the HoF voters thus far, then there’s no way Ortiz will.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      Edgar Martinez received 36% of the BBWAA Hall of Fame votes in his fourth year on the ballot, although his level has been quite static, not climbing. This puts him on the cusp of eventually making into the Hall of Fame either through the BBWAA or some future incarnation of the veterans’ committee. It’s probably more accurate to say we don’t know whether Edgar will be in the Hall than to assume he won’t.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      Yeah…I think they both are deserving Aces. But as you said…if Edgar is getting snubbed you know Ortiz is gonna’ have a tough time getting in.

      • dan1111 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        Personally, I think Martinez should definitely get in, while Ortiz is marginal at this point; but I could see it going the other way.

        Ortiz plays in a higher-profile market. He also had some very memorable playoff heroics, particularly in 2004 when he had three game-winning hits. He was part of breaking the Red Sox World Series drought, while Martinez never made it to the World Series.

        Ortiz has more home runs and RBI. He will continue to rack up those numbers, and could even reach 500 homers if he stays productive. A large part of Martinez’ value comes from his on-base percentage, which still isn’t fully appreciated.

  6. alexo0 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Heard that after getting the record-breaking hit, Ortiz pimped it hard. And deservedly so, because the man is David Ortiz.

  7. hittfamily - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Edgar is an offensive whiz who couldn’t field or run the bases. Ortiz is an offensive whiz who couldn’t field or run the bases. Rafael Belliard was a defensive whiz who could run the bases, but couldn’t hit. Baseball fielders/hitters have 5 tools. Average, Power, Speed, Glove, and Arm. Edgar and David are really good at 2, and completely inept at the other 3. Belliard was really good at 2, sufficient at speed, and inept at 2. Is Rafael Belliard a hall of famer?

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Hitting is a much more important skill for winning baseball games than your fielding or baserunning is. This struck me as a silly argument.

      • dan1111 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM

        Especially silly when a number of outstanding defenders who couldn’t hit well have already made the Hall. Look at the list of defensive WAR leaders and note how many are Hall of Famers, despite average or worse hitting:

        Belliard’s problem wasn’t that he excelled at the “wrong” skills. Rather, his defense was good but not stellar, and his hitting was so atrocious that it canceled whatever value his defense provided. David Ortiz is a good enough hitter that he would be playing first base if the DH did not exist. But Belliard at the plate is about as valuable as Ortiz playing shortstop with no glove.

        Also, don’t knock Ortiz’s baserunning. He has three stolen bases with a 100% success record this year!

      • mpzz - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        Wow. You don’t know anything about baseball, do you?

    • yahmule - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      That is an interesting brand of logic. Not particularly useful in any way, but interesting.

      • hittfamily - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:46 AM

        That is kind of what it is meant to be. I am not making the argument Belliard is a HOFer, but merely pointing out why the other 2 aren’t “No Doubters”, because to me, there is doubt. After high school and after college I went to several pro tryouts. They would tell the 150 or so that showed up to go out to there position. They would hit some fly balls, infield fungo, etc. in order to weed out the pretenders. They’d narrow it down to 25 or so guys to actually hit. They didn’t start with hitting. If you sucked at fielding and throwing, it was clear to scouts you had no business being on a field. Ortiz and Edgar would have never gotten to hit at the pro days I went to.

      • Joe - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        If Ortiz and Martinez “suck at fielding and throwing,” it’s in comparison to other major league baseball players, not in comparison to the ragtag bunch who show up at pro tryouts.* Besides, while Martinez wasn’t a gold glover by any means, he played DH primarily because his knees sucked, not because he was a liability in the field when his body was sound.

        *And also, there’s a reason these guys didn’t have to go through tryouts in the first place, and a lot of it’s got to do with the fact that scouts had already seen them hit.

      • hittfamily - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        It’s also because foreign players are cheap as dirt to sign. Scouts are cheap, especially foreign scouts. Organizational filler gets paid about 10,000 a year. Ortiz and Edgar probably would have signed for a ham and cheese sandwich. If they pan out, great. If not, cut em and waste 10 grand.

      • Reflex - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        Edgar Martinez was born in New York City. But hey, thanks for the casual racism and statements about why a team would sign them. It couldn’t possibly be because teams felt they were potentially among the 900 or so best ballplayers in the world, oh no, it was because they would sign for a ‘ham and cheese sandwich’.

        I really have nothing nice to say about you now. So I’ll stop.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      Great analogy with regards to the tryouts. The only problem I have with it is Edgar and Ortiz didn’t have to participate in tryouts. They were already with an organization…”fielding” their respective positions.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      It’s amazing they let Ted Williams in the Hall of Fame.

      • hittfamily - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        Did his disembodied head DH for the Royals in the 80’s? I could have sworn he was a capable outfielder for the Red Sox.

  8. 13arod - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    zackd2 ortiz isnt usin steriods

    • zackd2 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      In 2009 it was released that he and Manny failed PED test.

  9. psousa1 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    It is a joke how pious the baseball media gets about giving a DH an MVP or consideration for the HOF. Because they are not complete players? I recall Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi winning MVP’s and they were two of the worst defensive 1B of their era(s). Everybody bunted at them because they knew that if they did make a play on the ball neither one of them could throw the ball. I don’t recall them getting demerits for their defensive play. They sure were not complete players even though IMO they were deserving of their MVP’s. (yes I know Giambi was a user but I take it in context of the era in which he played)

    DH’s like Ortiz and Edgar Martinez have/had great impact on their respective teams success

  10. barrywhererufrom - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Another PED guy..who cares..

  11. barrywhererufrom - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    of course it was in 03 so that means he never did it again..if you believe that I am sure you believe in the Easter Bunny too..

    • dan1111 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Nobody knows if he used steroids after 03. Stopping then, when the regular testing started, would be a logical, smart thing to do.

      For that matter, it’s not known what banned substance he tested positive for back then, either.

  12. mpzz - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Nice to see baseball’s record book is still being defiled by cheaters.
    Although, really, who cares about DH records?

  13. mudhead123 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Ortiz was caught for taking banned substances and he said he would get to the bottom of what it was and share it with the public. We are still waiting.

  14. twilson962 - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    It’s not exactly like, but it’s akin to, special teams players in the NFL. Yes they play an important position & certainly impact the game. Will Ray Guy get into the NFL Hall of Fame? Maybe…eventually. Will Brian Mitchell? He’s second in all-time yards from scrimmage to only Jerry Rice. He’s head-and-shoulders above everyone else in total return yards…. But I highly doubt he’ll ever get voted in.

  15. jolink653 - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    So he’s 37 and he’s on pace to have maybe the best season of his career? And no one thinks there’s something wrong here? You slow down as you get older; you don’t get better, not to mention he’s already been caught once and chose the deny-deny-deny route…Only a matter of time before they catch him with something again

    • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      Oh, for Pete’s sake. Everyone thinks there’s something suspicious here. Which is why they test. And he passed.

      I think the best solution is to throw Ortiz into the waters off Plymouth Rock. If he sinks, he’s clean. If he floats, he’s a witch.

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM


    • nategearhart - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Know who else had his best season at 37? Hank Aaron.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        Ted Williams @ 38

        132 G – .388/.526/.731, 233 OPS+ (all lead the league), 38 HR (tied for second highest in his career)

      • jolink653 - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:30 PM

        Ortiz should not have his name mentioned with either of those all-time greats…Ted Williams was a once in a lifetime franchise player, as was Aaron…Aaron and Williams were bigtime player from the start and maintained that ability throughout their careers (and Williams lost five seasons of his career to the military so he had a lot more left in the tank at that advanced age)…Ortiz was an average-at-best hitter for the Twins, someone who they cut because he really had nothing going for him, and all of a sudden he’s cranking out 40+ home runs a season? Not in this day and age where we’ve seen things that seem too good to be true never actually be true

      • 18thstreet - Jul 12, 2013 at 7:23 AM

        David Ortiz was pretty much the same player for the Twins in 2002 as he is today. The Twins opted to focus on his weaknesses: couldn’t hit lefties, couldn’t run, couldn’t field, struck out a lot. Theo Epstein looked at that same player and said, “Left-handed half of a DH platoon.” The only thing that’s changed about him is that he got better at hitting lefties.

        What’s hard to believe, looking backwards, is that the Red Sox were the only team that saw it. DH is a real position. Most pitchers — particularly starters — are right-handed. It really wasn’t rocket science to sign a .900 OPS (in the Metrodome!) bat.

    • nategearhart - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      jolink, Aaron and Williams were referenced specifically to counter the point YOU made that a player having his best season at 37 is in-and-of-itself reason to believe he’s cheating. And to suggest that Ted Williams had “more left in the tank” because he spent 5 years FIGHTING IN GODDAMN WARS rather than playing baseball is laughable. I hope you’ll understand if I ask you to provide some (non-circumstantial) evidence to support your claim, because it sure does seem counter-intuitive.

  16. jdvalk - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Oh yeah sure, stop after 2003, because that’s when his honesty began, right? No, his honesty didn’t start there, especially as you could remember the guy had the gall to call for big penalties for PED use all the way up until his results leaked. Without the honesty (meaning he had no compunction about hiding what he did, which also means it’s hardly inconceivable that he began masking when the early testing officially began), there’s no way he deserves any benefit of the doubt as suggested.

  17. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    For those thinking Edgar is in and Ortiz isn’t, care to explain why? Pro-rate Ortiz’s numbers to Edgar’s games played (not that far off, since he’s about 100 games behind) and we get:

    Edgar – .318/.418/.515 – 0.933 OPS; 2247 H, 514 2b, 309 HR, 1219 R, 1261 RBI, 1283 BB (.405 wOBA, 148 wRC+)
    Oritz – .297/.381/.551 – 0.932 OPS; 2107 H, 544 2b, 453 HR, 1263 R, 1501 RBI, 1133 BB (.393 wOBA, 139 wRC+)

    Seems awfully close to me. Throw in Ortiz’s postseason heroics and I think they are really close. Granted Martinez is slightly ahead, but it’s not that far apart that some are making it out to be.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 12, 2013 at 7:27 AM

      Thanks for the effort, but does that include ballpark factors?

  18. northstarnic - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    MN twins didn’t need him. How’d that turn out?

  19. kotapug - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    One of the dumbest moves Minnesota ever made was getting rid him.

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