David Ortiz passes Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time home run list — is he a Hall of Famer?

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David Ortiz hit two home runs against the Blue Jays last night. The first one tied him with Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time home run list, the second one passed him. Ortiz hit 58 with the Twins, so he’s still behind him on the Red Sox list.

Overall, Ortiz now sits alone at 36th all-time with 453 bombs. Ahead of him in the near future: Adam Dunn, Jose Canseco, Dave Winfield and Chipper Jones at 454, 452, 465 and 468, respectively. Obviously Dunn is still active.

One of the more controversial subjects we bring up around here from time to time are David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame chances. I feel like I’m in the minority on this one, but I do think he is both Cooperstown bound and Cooperstown worthy.

I dug into the argument pretty deeply the morning after Game 6 of the World Series last fall, but the summary of it was:

  • On the numbers alone he is comfortably within the middle of the pack of already-enshrined Hall of Fame hitters;
  • While people discount his contributions because he’s a DH, it’s not like DH hasn’t been an established position for pushing half a century and it’s not like we don’t already induct hyper-specialists into the Hall of Fame (see, one-inning relief pitchers);
  • If we give extra credit for the playoffs — and we typically do — it’s worth noting that Oritz has a career World Series line of .455/.576/.795 with 14 RBI in 14 games; and
  • While some will cite his PED history, (a) it is the slightest of all PED histories imaginable given that it came during the 2003 trial testing period which came with no penalties and was supposed to have been anonymous; and (b) he tends to get a pass on this from many in the media who are not so forgiving to PED-implicated players.

Going against his chances are that, so far, the BBWAA voters have shown no inclination to vote in the guy who many feel was the best DH in baseball history in Edgar Martinez. But I bet the Boston + three World Series rings factor will end up giving Ortiz a lot of extra credit among those same voters. Almost all teams which win a World Series have at least one Hall of Famer. Teams which win three World Series ALL have Hall of Famers. Who would Boston’s be? If it ain’t Ortiz, I’d be curious to see who your candidate is.

Maybe I still haven’t convinced most of you. But as we debate this, Ortiz will continue to climb the career home run list.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.