On Wednesday night, beloved Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz surpassed Harold Baines for the most hits in MLB history by a DH. He set the record on a second-inning double, giving him 1,689 hits as a DH. For good measure, he added three more hits, including another double and a home run.
Including stats from his time as a first baseman, Ortiz has 1,953 hits, 420 home runs, 1,391 RBIs and a career .287 batting average.
There has been much argument over recent years about whether or not a DH is deserving of enshrinement in the halls of Cooperstown. Edgar Martinez is by far the best DH who is eligible for Hall of Fame considerations, and despite a career which includes 309 long balls, 1,261 runs driven in and a batting average of .312, he has never received more than 36.5 percent of the vote on a Hall of Fame ballot. That number is less than half the required 75 percent to make it into the Hall.
Ortiz has far surpassed Martinez in home runs and RBIs, plus he is a two-time World Series champion. Regardless of position, Ortiz is 48th all time in home runs and 73rd all time in RBIs. Big Papi will likely surpass the 2,000-hit mark this season, and assuming he plays another season or two, will almost certainly pass 1,500 RBIs and 450 home runs. Those numbers would put him in about the top 50 in runs driven in and in the top 35 in home runs in baseball history.
There is no way a top-50 run-producing power bat in MLB history should be kept out of the Hall of Fame. Voters have argued that designated hitters don’t have a real position, and since they don’t field, they spend all their time focusing on hitting.
While there is something to that argument, he is still clearly the greatest designated hitter in the history of this storied game. He has done things no other human has ever done at his position, and like it or not, when Ron Blomberg stepped into the box on April 6, 1973 at Fenway Park for the New York Yankees, the designated hitter became a position. And five years after Ortiz calls it a career, he deserves to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame because he is simply the greatest of all time at what he did.