David Ortiz’s career will soon come to an end, and then comes the discussion about whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. So far this year, Big Papi is having a season for the aged (pun intended). At 40 years old, he’s batting .340 for the Boston Red Sox and here in June he improbably leads the league in doubles, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS. Ortiz has announced that this will be his final season in uniform and is putting one heck of a cap on a fantastic career.
For his career, Ortiz has 517 career homers and nearly 1,700 RBIs and counting, and oh yeah, three World Series championships with the Red Sox including their magical curse-breaking 2004 title. Easy Hall of Famer, right? Well … maybe. To get there, he would have to overcome persistent rumors of steroid use and the fact that no one who spent as much of his career as a designated hitter as Ortiz has ever been enshrined in the Hall.
Will Ortiz make the Hall of Fame? Should he? Eric Kabakoff and Jeremy Bourque discuss the matter. One’s a Red Sox fan and one isn’t, so these aren’t just two fans screaming about their guy.
Eric: By the numbers and World Series rings, the answer’s an easy yes. Also, he’s got iconic status with one team and whether fair or not, that does seem to carry extra weight in discussions like these. Gary Sheffield, for one, might have gotten more Hall of Fame consideration if he had stayed with the Milwaukee Brewers his entire career … or the Los Angeles Dodgers, or Atlanta Braves … instead of whining his way out of town more than once (PED rumors notwithstanding). But enough about that. Should a DH be in the Hall of Fame at all? By the time he comes up for election, the position will have been around for about fifty years. It’s not going anywhere. And really, who’s to say that players in earlier eras — Hall of Famers included — who were good hitters but lousy fielders wouldn’t have been designated hitters themselves had the option existed. He shouldn’t be punished now for not playing the field, should he? This isn’t Pete Incaviglia or Sam Horn or Mike Easler we’re talking about.
Jeremy: The DH is a position in the game today, although AL only, and many players have become Hall of Famers while prolonging their careers in this role (Paul Molitor is a great example). However, Ortiz has been a DH almost his entire career and this could come back to haunt him. Take Edgar Martinez, who the DH award is named after. He should have been played more in the field by his manager and lost some votes there, unfortunately. Ortiz was considered almost adequate and not outstanding on defense by any means. His offensive numbers are great for his career! His postseason antics alone are Hall worthy!
Eric: Not just the rings, but what he did in those postseason games to get them. He won the 2004 ALCS MVP and nearly a decade later he won the 2013 World Series MVP. He has played 82 postseason games and has 17 homers in them with 60 RBIs and a .295 batting average. In fourteen World Series games alone, the man batted a ridiculous .455. And not only did many of his postseason heroics come under baseball’s brightest lights, they came against the New York Yankees at the most recent peak of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. Yankees fans can certainly recall those moments.
Jeremy: But then there is that whole failed “anonymous” PED test from 2003 that occurred just when he seemed to blossom in Boston. On the other hand, he has not failed any tests since like Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez, and other sluggers did. Plus the public was not supposed to know the players and the results in the report. We do, and a lot of questions still remain on that.
Eric: We don’t know the answers to those questions and we probably never will, but he’s tainted and that could and likely would give voters pause when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Does the faint scent of the Clear or the Cream get balanced out by his lifetime totals? Probably not. But the postseason heroics and multiple championships in a city that was starving for them (at least in baseball) might possibly outweigh that.
Jeremy: Tough call here but I think he gets in eventually.
Eric: I’m not sure it’s on the first ballot, but you’re probably right. Sharp attitudes about most things tend to soften over time. Other than that one leaked failed test, there’s been nothing proven and if nothing else comes up he will probably end up in the Hall eventually. I doubt he’ll do so with a Minnesota Twins logo on his cap, though.
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