Friday, November 20, 2015

#BYBHUB Change-Up: Is David Ortiz a HOFer? - The Red Sox Perspective

As you all know by now, even the last person under that rock over there just found out, David Ortiz is retiring at the end of the 2016 season. Ortiz has had a stellar career including three World Series championships, 500+ home runs and nine All-Star Game appearances. The debate whether Ortiz should be in the Hall of Fame or not almost immediately began like it does with most every notable retirement story. Rather than simply put my opinion out there to Yankees fans and readers of The Greedy Pinstripes we decided we wanted to do something a little different with the help of the BYB Hub. With the help of Robert Casey (Bleeding Yankee Blue) and Section 36 (a Red Sox blog currently listed on the Hub) we came up with a plan to syndicate our arguments for and against Ortiz’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

As you’re reading this Section 36’s case for Ortiz is currently going up on the blog here while my case against goes up on his blog. In a few hours you will see my case against Ortiz here on the blog and his on his blog over there. Basically we wanted both sides of the equation to get both sides of the story at the same exact time. We also wanted to get a discussion going and possibly have this as the stepping stone to more integration between the blogs, more syndication and more working together with the members of the BYB Hub. If you can’t wait to see my response head over to Section 36 and read my response now after reading his here on TGP and please, PLEASE, be respectful. This doesn’t work without that. Thank you in advance and we hope that you enjoy. 

Before I get into Ortiz’s case for Hall of Fame election, let me address a couple of the common strikes held against him.

First, that PED list. Yes, he appeared on the 2003 list. But, no he didn’t use illegal PEDs. How do I know? Because MLB told me so. They stated that the testing done in 2003 initially didn’t distinguish between “supplement” and “banned supplement.” After all, it was the first testing. Some kinks needed to be worked out. So, Ortiz made it on the list that was never supposed to be released (so, why bother “fixing” it?) for something that wasn’t banned…and wasn’t illegal. That’s why you haven’t heard any whispers since by people who saw him use, or knew he used, or whatever. No testimony came out later naming him. Nothing. Just the one test for a supplement, which was explained away by MLB. Non-issue.

The second one is the DH issue. How can you be in the Hall-of-Fame if you don’t play the field? Well, I guess the same way you can be in the Hall of Fame if you don’t bat. Pitchers only pitch, and DH’s only hit. How is it different? Additionally, DH is an actual position. It’s not like people telling me closers deserve to be in the Hall of Fame even though they’re not even good enough to start for their teams. When Ortiz’s manager makes a list of his nine starting batters, Papi’s name was almost always in that list.

Now, of course, I think defense can be important to get into the Hall of Fame…depending on the player’s claim to fame. If you’re say Jorge Posada, and you’re basing your resume on being a great hitting catcher, defense is important. The numbers on their own aren’t enough to get him in as a hitter. If he was an outfielder or a first baseman, his numbers wouldn’t stand out. He needs the “catcher qualifier” to have a chance. So, when you’re trying to get in as a catcher…the fact that he can’t actually catch is important. Putting shin guards on Manny Ramirez doesn’t make him the best hitting catcher ever.

But, David Ortiz doesn’t need any of those qualifiers. He’s not trying to get in as a great hitting shortstop. So, his ability to play shortstop is irrelevant. He’s trying to get in as a great hitter. Why would his lack of playing defense hurt him? If he wanted to…or if the Red Sox wanted him to…could he play first base as well as, say, Jason Giambi? I would certainly think so. After all, it was Ortiz’s glove that made the Red Sox choose him over all the other available DH/1B types in 2003. So, if he had fumbled and stumbled around for ten years like Giambi at first, he’s a Hall of Famer? But, because he played a position that didn’t require that, he’s not? How does that make sense? It doesn’t.

So, now that we've eliminated the arguments against his election, what about the ones for?

I’ve discussed my personal rules for Hall of Fame election before. But, for the new people… The Hall of Fame requires a ten year long career. So, I figure if that’s the minimum, you better have all ten be all-star type years. Not always actual selection. After all, the most deserving players don’t always go. But, the type of year where people would think you deserved to be there. Ortiz? He was a nine-time all-star. One year he wasn’t he hit 28 HR with 99 RBI. It’s close, but I’ll give him the ten all-star type seasons. Within those ten seasons, I require 5 MVP types. Again, not actually winning the award. But, if people were discussing the best players in the game, that player’s name would come up pretty quickly. Ortiz? He finished in the top five in MVP voting five years in a row, and tenth another year. That sounds pretty good to me. Beyond that, if a player plays beyond the ten year minimum, I just don’t want him to embarrass himself. Don’t have ten all-star seasons, and then ten seasons where you’re hitting .136. Ortiz? He currently sits at 503 home runs, and 1641 RBI. Fair to say he didn’t let himself go in those non-all-star years.

I haven’t even mentioned his postseason heroics. Mostly because I couldn’t care less when it comes to Hall of Fame eligibility. Hard to say that performing well in a series that not everyone gets a chance to play in makes you a better player. But, let’s just say his performance in the playoffs isn’t exactly his downfall.

So, there you have it. No, he’s not a Pedro Martinez type lock. But, it’s still a pretty easy decision. He has the career numbers. He has the peak numbers. His top comp on baseball reference is a Hall of Famer. (Frank Thomas. Who, by the way, was a DH more than a 1B). It’s a slam dunk that he should get in.

Have no idea how anyone could think otherwise.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)