To get your number retired alongside the likes of Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and most recently Jim Rice, the Boston Red Sox require two things of a player: to have played in Boston for at least ten years, and to have been elected into the MLB Hall of Fame.
David Ortiz, most notably known as “Big Papi,” is currently playing in his 12th season for the Red Sox. His longevity and productivity throughout his career are more than enough to cement his name across right field in Fenway Park, but are his numbers enough to make it into Cooperstown?
The designated hitter has long been a hot-button issue across MLB. It’s a position that removes the other side of the game, and by doing so, allows players to extend careers that would otherwise be cut short. Some Baseball purists love the small ball aspect that the National League brings without it while others love the versatility that the position brings with it. I’m personally a firm believer that the DH should be instituted across MLB; the luxury of pitching around the 8 hitter in order to get to the pitcher in the NL is still ridiculous to me.
Unfortunately, not everybody feels the same way, including the voters over at the HOF who have constantly punished players (most notably Edgar Martinez) for not playing the field. The only real DH to ever be inducted was Frank Thomas, who became a member of the prestigious club just this year. He received 83.7 percent of the vote.
So is Big Papi a lock like the Big Hurt, or will he suffer the same fate as so many others?
Here are three reasons why David Ortiz should be inducted into the HOF:
1. Everybody loves the long ball
At 38-years-old, David Ortiz has launched 461 career home runs. With a month left this season and another year remaining on his contract, he has a very legitimate shot to reach the 500 home run club; only 26 players in MLB history have reached that milestone.
Of those 26 players, 16 have been elected into the HOF, 6 are not yet eligible, and the rest, including some of those who have yet to reach eligibility, are muddled in steroid controversy.
Now, if Ortiz reaches 500, do the voters group him into the same pack of players like Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro because of his 2003 test? I’m not sure. The HOF has yet to crack their moral code on steroid tainted players to date, but say Ortiz retires in 2015, he wouldn’t even make the ballot for another four years. Will things have changed by then? It’s certainly a tough call. Some say that Ortiz was given a free pass for his positive test, but the fact remains that he has never faced disciplinary actions from Major League Baseball for any PED use.
The point is that if Ortiz were to reach 500 home runs, keeping him out of the HOF would be a tough chore.
2). Postseason guru
Being clutch isn’t something you can really illustrate with statistics… wait, yes it is. In 82 career postseason games, Ortiz has posted a slash of .295/.409/.553 with 17 homers and 60 RBI’s, including this:
Along with countless others that would take me hundreds of man hours to bring to your attention.
I understand it’s all about opportunities as far as the postseason goes, but I think HOF voters absolutely have to take Ortiz’s numbers into consideration. I know he’s a lock either way, but you can’t tell me that Derek Jeter’s feats in October don’t play a huge part in his whole aura as a great baseball player. Ortiz is the same way. Three World Series Championships in Boston that wouldn’t have been possible without him.
3. King of the DH
Some players dabble in being the designated hitter for a few seasons. Others own the position entirely. Ortiz is the latter.
From the DH position, Ortiz is the all-time leader in hits (1,877), RBI’s (1,334), and home runs (410). My belief is that when you are the best at what you do, you deserve to be recognized for it.
Most teams in today’s game rotate players in and out of their DH position based on a few things: who plays the worst defense or who needs the most rest on any given night. Pure designated hitters are actually dying out and Ortiz is one of the last of his breed. Night in and night out Ortiz steps in and feels the pressure of only being able to contribute with one thing: his bat. And for years he has never failed.
He is the king of the DH.
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