77.9% Opens The Baseball Hall Of Fame Doors For David Ortiz

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has announced the results of the 78th election held by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) and former Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is the final member of the Class of 2022. He received support on 307 ballots out of a possible 394 cast by voters (77.9 percent) in his first year of eligibility. This marks the 27th time in BBWAA voting history that only one candidate has received the required 75 percent for enshrinement and the first since the 2012 election of shortstop Barry Larkin when he received support on 86.4 percent of the ballots in his third year of eligibility.

In their tenth and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot, Barry Bonds (66 percent), Roger Clemens (65.2 percent), Curt Schilling (58.6 percent), and Sammy Sosa (18.5 percent) each failed to meet the minimum requirement. They will now be eligible for consideration by the Today’s Game Era Committee who will meet in December to discuss candidates for the Class of 2023. Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling each have eclipsed the 60 percent threshold on multiple occasions. Gil Hodges was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Era Committee as he was the last candidate to surpass the 60 percent threshold on a BBWAA ballot but had yet to receive the long-awaited call from Cooperstown. Hodges had achieved this feat on three occasions during his 15 years of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot (1976, 1981, 1983) and appeared on 20 different Veterans and Era Committees ballots over four decades according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.   

In his fifth year of eligibility, Scott Rolen’s candidacy is building in momentum as he earned 63.2 percent. Voters are also revisiting the statistical achievements of Todd Helton (52 percent), Billy Wagner (51 percent) and Andruw Jones (41.4 percent) while demonstrating a greater enthusiasm for their careers. In his eighth year of eligibility, Gary Sheffield (40.6 percent) is still confronting obstacles regarding his association with performance enhancing substances. Alex Rodriguez’s debut on the BBWAA ballot went as well as expected with support on 34.3 percent percent of the ballots. Even as voters continue to overlook Jeff Kent (32.7 percent) in his ninth year of eligibility, they are no longer advocating for Omar Vizquel as he saw a serious decline from last year’s 49.1 percent to 23.9 percent due to accusations of domestic abuse and sexual harassment.

Ortiz is the 340th elected member to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In total, the BBWAA have elected 135 candidates with 58 being in their first year of eligibility. Ortiz now joins Harold Baines and Edgar Martinez as the only Baseball Hall of Famers whose primary position was designated hitter. According to Baseball-Reference, Frank Thomas had appeared in more ball games as a designated hitter (1,310) than first baseman (971), but the Baseball Hall of Fame has identified his primary position as first base.

There were legitimate concerns regarding Ortiz’s candidacy beginning with a July 2009 article from The New York Times. His name was leaked as one of 104 ball players who had tested positive for performance enhancing substances during the anonymous survey testing in 2003. Even with Commissioner Manfred’s explanation regarding the possibilities of inconclusive results and false positives along with the confidentiality breach, voters still faced a gray area regarding another performance enhancing substance conundrum without a clear set of guidelines. 

Ortiz was a one-dimensional ball player who was never known for his baserunning prowess and defensive abilities. According to Baseball-Reference, Ortiz had appeared in 2,028 regular season ball games as a designated hitter with only 278 at first base. Over 2,166 innings playing first base, Ortiz had posted -7 defensive runs saved (DRS) and -3.6 ultimate zone rating (UZR) according to FanGraphs. In 20 major league seasons, Ortiz had stolen 17 bases in 26 attempts with a 65.38 percent success rate.

The Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic has become a popular evaluation tool for voters since it incorporates multiple facets of a ball player’s abilities based on offense, defense, and baserunning. According to Baseball-Reference’s calculation, Ortiz’s career 55.3 WAR ties him with Hall of Fame outfielder Max Carey for 154th all-time among position ball players. In 2007, he posted a career best 6.4 WAR and had eclipsed a 5.0 WAR four times which means Ortiz was performing at an all-star level. In total, Ortiz had finished in the American League’s top 10 in terms of WAR for position ball players only on three occasions (2005-2007).        

The designated hitter position has recently gained acceptance among voters. Along with Martinez’s 2019 election in his tenth year of eligibility, Ortiz is only the second designated hitter elected by the BBWAA with Baines’ enshrinement coming way of the Today’s Game Era Committee in December 2018. An eight-time winner of the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award (2003-2007, 2011, 2016), Ortiz has also won the prestigious Hank Aaron Award on two occasions (2005, 2016) for being the best overall offensive performer in the American League. 

Ortiz was one of the most dominant and charismatic ball players of his generation hitting 541 career home runs with a .931 On-base Plus Slugging (OPS). An intense competitor, he attacked baseballs with an unrelenting ferocity while intimidating pitchers with his size and presence. Who could ever forget the image of Ortiz spitting into his batting gloves and loudly clapping his hands before stepping into the batter’s box? His swagger and ebullient personality were the gasoline that fueled the engine for three world championship ball clubs for the Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013). Ortiz regularly excelled in high pressure situations exemplified by winning the 2004 American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award as well as the 2013 World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

A 10-time American League All Star and seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner, there is far more to Ortiz than mammoth home runs, World Series rings, and a trophy case overflowing with awards. He has a heart of gold beginning with the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. A 2011 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, Ortiz was honored for his extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions both on and off the field. A revered Red Sox icon who had his #34 retired in June 2017, Ortiz’s name rests comfortably next to the likes of Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski in terms of all-time franchise leaders in multiple offensive categories. Besides his genuine love affair with Red Sox fans, Ortiz was a source of great comfort after the horrific 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and will forever be remembered for delivering a riveting and colorful speech that perfectly captured the spirit of a devastated, yet unified city.  

David Ortiz’s candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame has been confronted with several thought-provoking questions regarding performance enhancing substances and whether he was worthy of being elected in his first year of eligibility. It always appeared as if Ortiz was motivated to do something special while wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform. A fun-loving spirit, he was a consummate professional who helped cultivate a championship mentality for the Red Sox while becoming one of the franchise’s greatest ambassadors. Most importantly, Ortiz has always used his larger-than-life personality to make people feel special while building a deep and meaningful connection with the city of Boston.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/waynemcdonnell/2022/01/25/779-percent-opens-the-baseball-hall-of-fame-doors-for-david-ortiz/