I had the feeling that the only person to be elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers would be David Ortiz, and I also had the feeling that if he made it on the first ballot, that it would not be by much.
Correct on both counts. The Red Sox legend got 307 votes where he needed 296 out of 394 to get in. Needing 75%, Ortiz got 77.9%.
Many notables dropped off the ballot, as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling were in their last year of eligibility. They now go to the Veterans’ Committee. For Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, steroid allegations cost them the Hall. For Schilling, his political viewpoints and some controversial statements.
Others remaining on the ballot, but who have been associated with PEDs found themselves far from the 75% threshold. That included Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.
Ortiz also has a questionable past with that. Supposedly his name came up on a list that came up positive in 2003, however he has denied it, and there have been false positives associated with the list. Also, there was no list of banned vs. ok substances. So something picked up legitimately at a GNC could cause a positive. To his credit, Ortiz never came up positive after rules were enforced later on.
Ortiz, mostly a DH, was a 10x All-star, 3x WS champ (get to that in a moment), 7x Silver Slugger, a WS MVP, and an ALCS MVP, who played for the Twins (1997-2002) and Red Sox (2003-2016). While ok with the Twins (OPS+ 108), he blossomed into a superstar with Boston (OPS+ 148). He was probably the most influential and most important player in helping the Red Sox end “the Curse of the Bambino” by helping Boston to its first WS title in 86 years in 2004, then he added two more titles onto that.
Ortiz wound up hitting 541 HR, and getting MVP consideration 8x. While never winning the MVP award, he finished in the top 10 7x, and finished 5-4-2-3-4 from 2003-2007. His final season was probably the greatest final season of any player in baseball history, and he finished 6th in MVP voting that year. In his last year, Ortiz, 40, hit .315-38-127, leading the AL in RBI, the majors in doubles (48), the majors in slugging and OPS, and the AL in intentional walks. He hit .286 for his career with an OPS+ of 141 (100 is average). His 162 game average was .286-36-119. He led the league in HR once (54 in 2006), RBI 3x, doubles once, walks 2x, OBP, slugging, total bases and OPS once each, and intentional walks 3x.
In 85 postseason games, he hit .289, with 17 HR and 61 RBI. He won both games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS for Boston, leading them back from a 0-3 deficit to win the AL pennant and eventually the WS, breaking the 86 year old “Curse of the Bambino.” He was ALCS MVP in 2004 (12 for 31, 3 HR, 11 RBI) and WS MVP in 2013 (11 for 16, 2 HR, 6 RBI).
One thing I was and still am critical about is pitchers not coming inside to dust him off of the plate. Can you believe in his whole career, Ortiz was HBP only TWICE? (By comparison, Mantle 13x, Mays 45x, Aaron 32x, Ruth 43x). I’m not for headhunting, but back the guy off the plate?
Ortiz only played 278 games at 1B. 2028 were as a DH.
Here is the ballot, with some notes.
Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Sosa drop off. So does anyone not getting 5%, which includes Ryan Howard (MVP , 6 top-10 MVP finishes, and 382 HR), Tim Lincecum (Back-to-Back CYA), Justin Morneau (MVP), Joe Nathan (6x all-star) and Mark Teixeira (409 HR) to name a few.
It really looks good for Scott Rolen to maybe get in next year. A-Rod and Manny Ramirez stand no chance due to steroids and suspensions. Omar Vizquel dropped considerably because of domestic violence and sexual harassment allegations. Andy Pettitte stays on, but HGH admissions hurt him.
Next year will be Jeff Kent’s last year on the ballot. (377 HR, MVP).
The biggest name coming onto the ballot next year is Carlos Beltran (.279, 435 HR, 312 SB). While I think Beltran eventually makes the HOF, I don’t think it will be on the first ballot. The only other one that can get considerable consideration among next year’s newcomers is Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod had 437 saves, 62 in 2008.