Oct 31, 2013, 9:22 AM EST
BOSTON — A lot of people are going to be asking that question this morning. Anyone answering “no” had better bring a good argument, because they’re on the much tougher side of the battle today than they were a year ago.
First, though, let us set aside the World Series and look at Ortiz’s overall case. Don’t worry: we’ll get there in a minute.
David Ortiz is a career .287/.381/.549 hitter. He has 431 homers and 1429 RBI. His OPS is .930 and his OPS+ — which adjusts him to the level of his competition, his era and the ballparks in which he hits — is 139, which means (for quick and dirty purposes) that’s he’s 39% above the average hitter. These numbers place Ortiz comfortably within the range of current Hall of Famers. Is he inner-circle? Not really, but his not borderline on the numbers either. There are many worse hitters than Ortiz in Cooperstown whose primary argument for induction was their offensive output.
The Designated Hitter Factor
Of course Ortiz is offensive output and offensive output alone. He has played a mere 263 of his 1514 career games in the field, spending the rest of his time as a designated hitter. Not having any defensive value does take away from his overall value, but the notion that just because one has zero defensive value means one has no Hall of Fame case is silly. The DH has been part of the game for 41 seasons. It is not some novelty anymore. Relief pitchers are routinely inducted to the Hall of Fame now and they are specialists too. Many — specifically, one-inning closers — are the sorts of specialists that have only existed since the 1980s, really. If no one knocks them for not being all-around players no one should knock the DH. And the fact is that, with the possible exception of Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz has been the greatest DH in baseball history. And for what it’s worth, Martinez should be in the Hall too.
The Playoffs Factor
I don’t necessarily believe that there are clutch hitters. Meaning, guys who can be predicted to do well in tough spots and on big stages before the fact. But there is no escaping the fact that Ortiz has done well in tough spots and on big stages throughout his entire career.
In three World Series he has hit a mind-boggling .455/.576/.795 with 14 RBI in 14 games. Is he some freak of nature in this regard? Not really, as his career playoff line — including division series and league championship series — is almost identical to his batting line since he joined the Boston Red Sox. But that’s not to diminish his playoff performance. We notice what he does in the playoffs far more and are usually amazed. The fact that he has basically done that for his entire Red Sox career and some people think he is undeserving of the Hall tells us that we are underrating his regular season performance.
The Performance Enhancing Drugs Factor
The ultimate objection to Ortiz’s candidacy will be that he was once associated with performance enhancing drugs. Specifically, his name was leaked — but never confirmed — as one of the 103 players who tested positive for banned substances during baseball’s trial drug testing in 2003. Drug testing that (a) was, by design, not to result in discipline; and (b) was supposed to remain anonymous but which had its anonymity compromised by over-zealous federal investigators.
You may have a personal rule that, if someone who took PEDs, they should not be in the Hall of Fame. We’ve handled these arguments here several times before and have shown them to often be disingenuous and unfair. Maybe nothing will change your mind, but know that there are already Hall of Famers who took PEDs and know that the accusations made against Ortiz are perhaps the thinnest that have been lodged against any player. And know that, in the past decade, he has never tested positive for PEDs.
So: He’s a Hall of Famer, Right?
You bet your bippy he is. The numbers certainly bear this out. And he still has a lot of gas left in the tank so he’ll be providing value for a few years yet, adding to his case. But you can be statistically illiterate and see this guy’s value as a player. His mark on the game is indelible. Numbers aside, Ortiz has killed it in the World Series. He clearly carried the Red Sox this year. He is clearly the leader of one of the best teams of his era.
When I have a tough call on a Hall of Fame candidate, I ask myself: “Can you tell the story of baseball in the era in which he played without including him?” If the answer is no, it’s hard to argue against his Hall of Fame case. And in Ortiz’s case, that answer is clearly no. The man should go to Cooperstown the first year he’s eligible.
Feb 26, 2015, 6:06 PM EST
Santana hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to injury.
Feb 26, 2015, 5:17 PM EST
“I think hanging it up is going to be harder for guys than they realize, after being out of it for a year.”
Feb 26, 2015, 3:40 PM EST
But it’s a very different kind of battle.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:18 PM EST
Milwaukee out, Toronto in?
Feb 26, 2015, 2:06 PM EST
Shame on A-Rod for making the reporters obsess about him.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:34 PM EST
Maybe THIS is the year he finally stops swinging at everything
Feb 26, 2015, 1:19 PM EST
Wainwright has been diagnosed with an abdominal strain.
Feb 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EST
It’s been two and a half years, but it still leaves a “dirty taste” in his mouth.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
Pena once looked like a potential star for the Reds and Red Sox, but then washed out by age 26.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:32 AM EST
He also (a) wants to emulate Greg Maddux; and (b) asked Sandy Koufax about his curveball.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
Welcome to 2002, Ruben Amaro!
Feb 26, 2015, 10:49 AM EST
It’s still early, but …
Feb 26, 2015, 10:23 AM EST
Two weeks ago Francisco Rodriguez was said to be holding out for a two-year contract.
Feb 26, 2015, 10:04 AM EST
The Marins are protecting their investment.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:37 AM EST
Even if Mike Lupica thinks they will be soon.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
Spring training is starting poorly for Toronto.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:29 AM EST
I am confident that Major League Baseball will help Josh Hamilton find the help he needs. I do hope, however, that whatever else they do to him does not contribute to the tendency to treat addicts as miscreants.
Matt Kemp thinks the Padres have the best outfield in baseball. I don’t think he’s right about that.
Feb 26, 2015, 7:32 AM EST
He’s forgetting, it seems, that outfields also play defense.
Feb 25, 2015, 11:05 PM EST
Mark Ellis told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle late Wednesday evening that he is retiring from baseball after 12 major league seasons.
Feb 25, 2015, 10:34 PM EST
Most people are high on the Nationals this season, but outfielder Bryce Harper might be the highest of all. Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com spoke with Harper on Wednesday …
- Francisco Rodriguez re-signs with the Brewers 8
- If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended 248
- Pirates open to massive extension for Andrew McCutchen 16
- Report: Josh Hamilton had a relapse this offseason that “involved at least cocaine” 85
- Yankees don’t plan on having to pay A-Rod’s $30 million in home run milestone bonuses 48
- San Francisco — and all of California — will consider a smokeless tobacco ban that includes MLB parks 130
- Rob Manfred says a return to a 154-game season could happen one day 66
- Report: The Yankees were “fuming” at how A-Rod handled his early arrival to spring training 113
- If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended (248)
- San Francisco — and all of California — will consider a smokeless tobacco ban that includes MLB parks (130)
- Yankees fans: would you give up the 2009 title just to be rid of A-Rod? (122)
- Report: The Yankees were “fuming” at how A-Rod handled his early arrival to spring training (113)
- Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada reportedly signs with the Red Sox for $31.5 million, plus $31.5 million in penalties (106)