EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 5, 2013

Ortiz adds to his Hall of Fame credentials in World Series

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — BOSTON — Harold Baines, who ranks second all-time in hits by a designated hitter behind only David Ortiz, was convinced Ortiz should make the Hall of Fame when interviewed by The Eagle-Tribune this baseball season.

“His numbers speak for themselves,” Baines said. “Just like Edgar (Martinez). But when you have writers that don’t believe the DH is part of the game, then it’s tougher to get in.”

MVP slugger Miguel Cabrera also told this newspaper during the season he doesn’t think Ortiz’s positive PED test in 2003 should hurt Ortiz’s chances at the Hall.

“No, because back in those days the testing was not strong,” Cabrera said. “He’s a great person, man. Whatever happens, what he did in baseball was very amazing.”

Ortiz’s Hall resume has some question marks, but he certainly made his case stronger during the World Series. He put together a historic performance on his way to being named the series Most Valuable Player.

Let’s revisit the Hall of Fame discussion now that Big Papi is a three-time World Series champion:

World Series credentials

His World Series stats against the St. Louis Cardinals were off the charts. He was 11 for 16 (.688 average) with a .760 on-base percentage, 1.188 slugging percentage, 1.948 OPS, two homers, six RBIs, two doubles, seven runs and eight walks.

His .688 batting average is the second best average in a single World Series behind only Billy Hatcher’s .750 mark in 1990. His .760 OBP ranks second behind Hatcher’s .800 OBP in ’90.

Ortiz has been in the middle of Boston’s batting order for all three World Series titles.

His .455 batting average in 59 plate appearances over three World Series ranks fifth all-time. His .576 OBP in three World Series is second best all-time behind only Barry Bonds’ .700 mark in 30 career World Series plate appearances.

Postseason work

The MLB postseason separates the boys from the men — the good players from the best players.

We always hear the saying that good pitching beats good hitting.

Average hitters are able to pad their stats during the regular season when they face occasional bad pitching and often mediocre pitching, but in the playoffs it’s a while different story. The playoffs most always display the best of the best pitching.

Ortiz’s 357 postseason plate appearances ranks ninth all-time. He is fourth all-time in postseason doubles (21), seventh in homers (17), fifth in RBIs (60) and fourth in total bases (163).

Regular season resume

Three factors could keep Ortiz out of the Hall:

1. His positive PED test. He batted .266 in six seasons with the Twins and never hit more than 20 homers in any of those six years with Minnesota before he arrived Boston at 27 years old. Then, his numbers jumped significantly. He stroked 54 homers in 2006. It’s probably not a coincidence that his failed PED test was during his first year in Boston when he began to revive his career.

2. Whether fair, some writers don’t believe DHs are Hall of Fame worthy because they don’t play defense.

3. Ortiz’s regular season numbers are borderline.

Edgar Martinez and Ortiz arguably are the two greatest DHs of all-time and both have similar stats.

Martinez hasn’t received more than 36.5 percent of the vote in his four years on the Hall ballot.

Martinez finished his career with a .312 batting average, .418 on-base percentage, .515 slugging percentage, 2,247 hits, 309 homers, 514 doubles and 1,216 RBIs in 8,674 plate appearances.

Ortiz has a career .287 average, .381 OBP, .549 slugging percentage, 2,023 hits, 431 homers, 520 doubles and 1,429 RBIs in 8,249 plate appearances.

Fred McGriff, who played the majority of his career at first base, has more career homers, RBIs and hits than Ortiz as well as a comparable batting average, OBP and slugging percentage and a strong postseason resume, but he has never received more than 23.9 percent of the Hall of Fame vote in his four years on the ballot.

He showed us all

Whether or not Ortiz makes the Hall of Fame someday, he has had a heck of a career.

Many doubted whether Ortiz could remain healthy this year because of the bad Achilles injury he suffered last summer. Many didn’t think it was wise for the Red Sox to sign Ortiz to a two-year deal last offseason. After last season, some thought the Red Sox should move on without Ortiz.

But the 37-year-old proved all his doubters wrong by playing like a 25-year-old. The Red Sox would not have been in the World Series if it wasn’t for Ortiz.

As I wrote earlier this month, it’s difficult not to feel good for Ortiz, a Dominican native who truly loves Boston and takes time to sign his name on something for every old lady or grade schooler who comes within his vicinity. Sure, Ortiz has had his ugly moments like when he smashed a phone with a bat in Baltimore. But he also is man whose spirit shines through in a truly personal and honest way.

Like when he picked up the microphone at Fenway before the first Red Sox home game following the Boston Marathon Bombings and declared “This is our (expletive) city” — a moment captured on live TV.

Boston has been good for Ortiz. Likewise, Ortiz has been good for Boston.

When the slugger arrived in Boston in 2003 from Minnesota, the plan was for him to platoon at DH with Jeremy Giambi. Who would have thought back then that 10 years later we would be talking about Ortiz’s Hall of Fame credentials?

Ortiz’s former Twins teammate Torii Hunter put it best when he said during the ALCS, “I’ve always respected the way he carried himself day‑to‑day, always wanted to hit. That’s it. He didn’t care about his defense, forget that, ‘I just want to hit.’

“And he was, I thought, was the best hitter in 2002 on our ballclub. And he missed six, seven weeks, and we non-tendered him and the Red Sox picked up a gold mine. I thought he was the best hitter on our ballclub with the Minnesota Twins. You guys found a diamond in the rough. And he’s been one of the best postseason performers in the history of the game.”