It’s time to start laying cards on the table and figure what are the odds on David Ortiz being recognized for what he’s done. We all know the records are being broken daily this season as he passes players nightly every time he hits a double or home run he seems to move up the list. That said his hopes for entry into the hall of fame are a long path and Ortiz has many things likely to make it even less likely.
Ortiz has plenty of counting stats that hall of fame voters like. He has already reached 26th all time with 506 homers. With a solid healthy season he has a shot to break the top 20 and even an outside shot at reaching Mickey Mantle at 17th with 536 home runs. That would put him in an interesting group and anyone in front of him is either in the hall or still eligible for induction except for Sammy Sosa.
Doubles are another huge stay for Ortiz where he ranks 17th currently with a huge possibility he reaches the top 10 in this stat. That would group him with only hall of famers and Pete Rose in this stat. This is the end of the major counting stats for Ortiz though. He’s only at 2324 hits which is 147 all time among hitters. That’s nothing terrible, but not something to paste on his hall of fame resume.
Here is where we get into the real arguments for and against David Ortiz and what indicators might tell us in the future if he gets in. Just raw WAR values say that Ortiz is a no when it comes to the Hall. The rough cutoff number for the Hall currently is around 62 WAR and that is a long way from what Ortiz has right now of 46 or 51 depending on the calculation (Fangraphs versus Baseball-Reference). That’s not to say he’s got no shot based on a number that most voters have no idea about. Right now he ranks right next to Kirby Puckett who has been inducted so WAR is not the end all.
So what indicators should we be reading to decide if Ortiz could make the hall of fame. One is former teammate Curt Schilling* who has WAR numbers that say he should be in, but counting stats like wins that aren’t traditional numbers. The reason I think he is a good indicator for Ortiz is due to his playoff record. The ability to see voters highly value playoff reputation is a great indication for Ortiz whose history in the playoffs built who he is today.
The next indicator is Edgar Martinez who has reached 43 percent of the vote in 2016 and gained for a few years. Again Martinez is a slightly better candidate than Ortiz in regards to WAR where he has 65.5 and would qualify under the arbitrary “minimum” and has history at a defensive position longer than Ortiz. That said the big question is will the voters decide a DH is fair game for the hall of fame? It seems a silly question, but until it happens it’s tough to say what a DH must do to get into the hall.
Another factor is what happens to some of the other candidates with some amount of PED history on them. Mike Piazza was elected this past season and although had no positive results the stigma of PEDs seemed tied to him. That said Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds sit in that middle area of 44 to 45 percent with much bigger cases of PEDs against them.
With another 6 years behind us the stance on hard line voters will soften in my opinion and this probably won’t be what keeps Ortiz out of the hall. That said he’s got a really long way to go to get there and it won’t be a few years till he even gets close. In the end if I was a betting man I’d say he doesn’t make it, but a lot could change and what happens to Schilling and Martinez could change my opinion.
*Schilling is making this indicator really hard by being unable to keep from saying awful, racist, bigoted things. This alone could be the reason voters can’t stomach voting for him and keep him out. That would not be an indicator for Ortiz in that case obviously.