No matter how you slice it, David Ortiz is not worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame. His career numbers, juiced as they are, don’t qualify. Factor in those career numbers are due to Ortiz being on the juice and it is a no brainer.
For those thinking I’m strictly on a moral stand, take a look at Ortiz’s career WAR total: 55.3. That puts him in the company of the lower ranking HOF players and quite a ways below several guys who won’t make it.
Hank Greenberg is right there with 55.5 WAR. However, it took Ortiz over 4000 more plate appearances to match Greenberg in WAR. I’m sorry, but if it takes you 7 more seasons to accumulate the same value as Greenberg, you aren’t as valuable as Greenberg.
Who are some contemporary players sitting similar to Ortiz’s illustrious 55.3 WAR? Former Angel Ian Kinsler sits at 54.1 while needing about 2000 fewer plate appearances. I highly doubt there’s going to be a huge contingent of fans clamoring for Ian Kinsler to make the Hall. Yet, by value, Kinsler was equal to Big Papi. On a season by season and game by game basis, Kinsler was more valuable.
Bobby Abreu and Jim Edmonds sport WAR’s over 60. They were more valuable than Ortiz yet nobody is clamoring for them in the Hall. Is Johnny Damon a Hall of Famer? He was more valuable than Ortiz in much less playing time.
The reason for Ortiz’s low WAR is simple: he added no value with the glove and negative value with his base running. In short, he was a one trick pony. While his peers, such as Kinsler, could help his team win on nearly every play, Ortiz could only help his team from the batter’s box.
What would really make a mockery of the Hall of Fame is the way David Ortiz came about those stats: Performance Enhancing Drugs.
As any baseball fan knows, David Ortiz failed the very performance enhancing drugs test Major League Baseball ever administered. Rather than face the music, Ortiz has gone on to blame the Yankees for somehow leaking his positive test result.
But to think Ortiz got caught and quit would be foolish. Absent proper testing, we don’t know if Ortiz was using PED’s as a member of the Minnesota Twins. However, the Twins did cut Ortiz after the 2002 season despite having a year of control over him. I’ve often wondered if the upcoming PED tests were a factor in that decision.
What we can look at are numbers. Prior to testing positive, Ortiz had put up a pretty solid .266/.348/.461 line that was 8% better than league average by OPS+. After testing positive, Ortiz went on a tear hitting .290/.386/.570 which was 48% better than league average by the same metric.
Ortiz hit more home runs in 2003 and 2004 than he had in the previous five years with the Twins. Probably the biggest smoking gun was the lack of age curve for Ortiz. He led the league in slugging his age 41 season. Not even Barry Bonds did that.
Speaking of Bonds, he’s not in the Hall of Fame because of his links to PED’s. Yet Ortiz failed more tests than him. And with Bonds, one can make the case he’d shown multi faceted baseball greatness prior to taking the drugs. You can’t say the same for Ortiz.
But, for fun let’s compare their last two seasons. We all know Barry was juiced to the gills by then. Bonds put up an outstanding .273/.467/.555 slash line good for 162 OPS+. Ortiz managed to outdo Bonds by leading the league in slugging at age 40 and put up .294/.381/.587 good for production 55% better than league average over his last two years.
These are the only two men in MLB history to put up such prolific production with ages that started with 4’s.
But don’t let a positive test and raw numbers convince you. Ortiz has basically admitted to steroid use several times. Dan Shaugnessy rips him to shreds here, but there are two very important take aways from Big Papi.
In the piece Ortiz himself says he’s been testing more than 80 times. Only players in the protocol get tested that often. But here’s the damning piece: In order to prove his innocence, Ortiz offers to mail Shaughnessy the results.
You only get notified of a failed test. This is the equivalent of saying I know how fast I drive because I get tickets in the mail all the time.
So, let’s take a look and see. We have a guy who is a one trick pony with a lower than HOF average career WAR. His one trick was due to chemistry as much or more so than talent. Yet people want him in the most sacred position in baseball.
Yes, I fully expect David Ortiz to accept an undeserved call to Cooperstown tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then sometime in the next couple of years. He’s gotten a free pass for his blatant cheating his entire career and I doubt it stops now.
But his numbers do not dictate he’s a Hall of Famer. How his numbers were accumulated should remove all doubt.
Make no doubt, inducting David Ortiz will be a new low for the Hall of Fame. It will make a mockery of the career of the players who made it there the right way and will be the ultimate slap in the face to the players who just missed induction because they too played the right way.