When David Ortiz passed Harold Baines as the DH with the most career hits, a couple questions popped up. The first I addressed earlier…is David Ortiz a great hitter? The second? Is David Ortiz headed to the Hall of Fame?
A fine question.
The first issue that comes to mind when discussing his candidacy is his position. Does a DH belong in the Hall of Fame? Of course, Paul Molitor is already there. As are Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski. But, what about a full-time career DH? Can they get in too?
Why on earth not?
The Designated Hitter has been a baseball position for 40 years now. Why wouldn’t someone who played that position better than anyone be eligible? This isn’t people insisting that closers should be in the Hall of Fame, when “closer” isn’t even a position.
The main argument against the DH is that since they don’t play the field, they’re only playing half the game. Which is true. But, wouldn’t that argument apply to pitchers too? They don’t hit. (Even in the NL, you’d be hard pressed to say the pitcher “hits.”) Isn’t that like saying an outfielder can’t play catcher, so they only play in part the game? Every player only plays the parts of the game their position calls for.
Even if that’s not enough for you, and you think DHs should be punished for not playing the field. Can you really say that a DH can’t play first base? Do you not think David Ortiz could play a bad first base? Jason Giambi once won an MVP award playing a terrible defensive first base. Is that better than Ortiz letting someone else have those duties? I don’t see how. So, DH should certainly be able to make the Hall of Fame for their position.
Now, what about this specific DH?
If you read my last Ortiz post, you probably know that I’m going to say, “Not quite.”
He just doesn’t quite do it for me. I always say I need five years of “elite” stats. I could give Ortiz the four years from ’03-’07. I say I need ten “all-star” type years. I might be able to give Ortiz eight or nine.
Now it’s possible that Ortiz’s peak years were so good that I’m discounting his other less elite years. Possibly. But, I suppose, if I need to be reconsidering “less elite” years, I’ve already made the decision. He doesn’t quite make it.
But, it’s not because he’s a DH.