Though there are arguably much bigger retirements this season (Vin Scully, Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez), the one that’s garnered the most media attention is legendary Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. David Ortiz spent his glory days being the biggest Boston slugger since the MLB Hall of Famer Jim Rice, maybe even the great Carl Yastrzemski.
A legend in the city of Boston, David Ortiz is no doubt a legend. David Ortiz was one of the biggest bargains in Major League history. A mediocre hitter and terrible fielder from Minnesota, MLB Hall of Fame pitcher, Pedro Martinez, requested that General Manager Theo Epstein sign Ortiz. The Red Sox took the risk, and Ortiz made its Opening Day Roster.
After signing with Boston, Ortiz went on a tear in the 2004 season; batting .301 with 41 homeruns and 139 RBIs. Trailing 3-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees, Ortiz led the Sox to a 4-game win streak to take them to the World Series, and won, breaking the 86-year “Curse of the Bambino.” Ortiz became one of the most loved players of his generation, putting up a career .286 average, with 541 homeruns and 1,768 Runs Batted In. While the numbers to the common eye scream Hall of Fame, it’s what’s behind the numbers that ruin the case. Ortiz was mediocre the first five years of his career. All of sudden, in 2004, he goes on a tear and becomes one of the best hitters in baseball. Why is that?
Following the 2004 World Series, Ortiz was mentioned on the Mitchell Report. This report gave fans a taste of who used PEDs and who didn’t. With any and all drug test history involved, both Ortiz and teammate Manny Ramirez (who also played a pivotal role in breaking the curse) were mentioned on this report, claiming that they have used PEDs. Though David Ortiz denies it, it still plays a major role into any Hall of Fame candidacy. It’s why the great Barry Bonds isn’t in. It’s the same reason Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmiero aren’t it. Why should David Ortiz get in? He’s failed a test, unlike Barry Bonds, who’s 10x the player Ortiz ever was. Whether he took steroids or not, that’s there, and it will affect his case.
Another reason is the fact that he’s a career DH. The writers hate the designated hitter. The only players that spent enough time in the DH spot to be considered one that are in? Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas. If Edgar Martinez, who was arguably a better hitter, with a career average of .312 and 309 homeruns can’t get in because he’s a DH, then David Ortiz definitely can’t. David Ortiz couldn’t field, and multiple Hall of Famer’s get in based on their defense, as that’s just as valuable as your offensive numbers. He only played half of the game, he didn’t play the full game, and that’s what inflated his offensive numbers alongside the possibility of PEDs. With this, steroids and a not so fantastic .286 career average, David Ortiz’s case isn’t as impressive as his name.
Is he a Hall of Famer? No. With both the steroid allegations and being a designated hitter, the odds are against Ortiz, and so is history. It is unlikely he gets in and definitely isn’t a first ballot.
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