Designated hitters are a funny specimen of a player. They are only used for their bat, not necessarily because they aren’t great at fielding, but because teams have better fielders at that position which allows them to play potentially two great hitters instead of one. This applies only to American League teams, of course. Arguably one of the best designated hitters of all time, David Ortiz, is nearing the end of his career.
Not only are designated hitters dissected by only one part of their game, but even more so in this era. Players that have high power numbers in this day and age will always be asked the question of, “did he take steroids”? Ortiz is an example of this because according to him, he has been tested for PED’s over 80 times throughout his career.
“In some people’s minds, I will always be considered a cheater. And that’s bulls–t. Mark my words: Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me. You know how many times I’ve been tested since 2004? More than 80. They say these tests are random. If it’s really random, I should start playing the damn lottery. Some people still think the testing is a joke. It’s no joke. Ten times a season these guys come into the clubhouse or my home with their briefcases. I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will,” Ortiz said in an article in The Players Tribune.
Since Ortiz’s arrival in 2003 for the Boston Red Sox, he has hit at least 20 home runs in each season. Add to that three World Series rings, including an MVP and also being known as one of the most clutch postseason history. From his clutch hits in the 2004 ALCS comeback against the New York Yankees to his staggering .688 batting average in the 2013 World Series that included 11 hits in 16 at bats, Ortiz has built himself quite the resume, a resume that would be a surefire Hall of Fame inductee. Right?
As of 2015, there has only been one DH that made it to the Hall of Fame, Frank Thomas. The difference between Thomas and Ortiz? Thomas played a little bit over half of his games at DH at 56.1 percent, the other 43.9 percent was at first base for the Chicago White Sox.
Ortiz, who rarely plays games at first base, might be facing an uphill battle. Both Edgar Martinez and Carlos Delgado, who were primarily DH’s, have been looked past when it comes to being a Hall of Fame inductee.
There is no question that the Hall of Fame voting system is flawed and is going to be looked at. Maybe that will help him in future years. A new way to vote and some new baseball minds would be a good thing for Ortiz, who has records for the most career games, hits, home runs and runs batted in as a designated hitter. He also has the records for slugging percentage, at-bats, runs, doubles, extra base hits and walks at the position.
The biggest difference between Ortiz, Martinez, Thomas and Delgado? Winning. Between the four of them, Ortiz beats them 3 rings to 1. The one being Delgado, who despite not playing in the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays, was still awarded a ring.
Above all, David Ortiz is what you see in a Hall of Fame inductee. He carries his game with class, has always been a leader both for Major League Baseball and the clubhouse and has always played the game with integrity. He will pass 500 home runs before his career is over and who knows, maybe add another World Series ring to his collection. If that doesn’t seem like a surefire Hall of Famer, I don’t know what is.