With the hot bat of David Ortiz driving the Boston Red Sox toward a possible third World Series ring in 10 years, ESPN and other magazines are ramping up the talk, again, about David Ortiz being a Hall of Famer.
Let me save you all the trouble, while possibly pissing off a few Red Sox fans, but showing I'm not a Cardinal homer.
He's not. He's a poor man's Mark McGwire, about whom I've said more than once before, that he's not a HOFer himself.
First, a stipulation or background note. Ortiz has two bits of baggage.
One is that he's a DH, meaning he has to rely on his bat alone to get in the Hall.
Two is that he was named in 2003 before the Mitchell Report (corrected) due to allegedly failing a roiding test. Although he denies ever being a roider or PEDer, let's look at his career. Now, it's possible that he just happened to have a breakout season at the age of 27, after the trade to Boston. It was only his fourth full-time season. Or, other things are possible.
Back to the issues at hand, though.
First, the most direct comparison to McGwire? On counting stats, he has only 2,023 hits. And, given his average per year, it's pretty clear that, even with three more seasons, he won't hit 2,500. (Errors on reporting Boston stats as career ones corrected.)
Will David Ortiz be playing at 40? Possible, but he may be platooning by then.
With all that, he's below 450 HRs and will probably never get 500, which would still leave him more than 100 behind Big Mac.
He does have a good OPS+, but he hasn't played a lot of games. So, his career oWAR is only 45.2. Worse, his career WAA is only 15.5. I don't see that crossing 20, and 35 is a lodestone for me. Likewise, his oWAR is likely to fall short of 55, and certainly of 60.
On career or near-career DH's, I've also blogged that Edgar Martinez is not a sure-shot HOFer and is borderline in my book, and Ortiz doesn't meet Martinez's standards, and on counting sabermetric and traditional stats, won't do so before he's retired, so that's that.
With Papi, as with Gar, beyond the issue of not getting more on the bat side out of playing DH, a career DH who still struggles with injury problems draws further skeptical eye from me. Whatever the cause of the injuries, if you have health problems as a DH, it's an orange flag at least, if not a red one.
On Big Mac, I tackled his HOF likelihood in this blog post about trying to factor out steroids' degree of stat-enhancing from possible HOFers. I suggest that if we remove the roiding from McGwire, what we're left with is a different-bodied version of Dave Kingman. In reality, I know that's a bit harsh, but I say that as a deliberate wake-up call.
And, that's probably the best final word on David Ortiz, too. Let's stop this nonsense about him being a Hall of Famer. If we're going by World Series batting heroics, Joe Carter should be in. And, he's even worse, sabermetrically than Ortiz. If we go by pitching, Jack Morris should be in; fortunately, we have just one year left to worry about keeping him out.
Let's also stipulate, as I did with Fox Sports this summer when it proposed several players in a row with cases at least as iffy as that of Ortiz, that sports websites are doing it for pageviews as much as for legitimate beliefs. That's why, in today's sports websites + social media world, I'm going to be even harsher on claims that "Player X" is a HOFer. (Also, to avoid enabling pageview counts, I either don't link to such sites, or add the "no follow" element to the HTML when I do create the HREF to link, so any hits off here don't count as pageviews.)
And, let's further stipulate what I've said more than once about ESPN and its baseball writing staff. It's a bunch of big-Hall fluffers. When Jim Caple says 10 ballot spaces aren't enough, we've passed the land of the one-eyed and entered the land of the truly blind.