David Ortiz joined great company on Saturday night, blasting his 400th and 401st home runs in a Boston Red Sox uniform. Only Hall Of Famers Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452) have hit more as members of the franchise.
“It’s an honor,” said Ortiz, according to the Boston Globe. “You never expect to be mentioned with those guys.”
As humbling as I’m sure the experience is for Big Papi, it should come as no surprise to MLB or the fans who have been watching his handy work for over a decade. Despite running into some down years where critics said he was old and deteriorating, he has gone on to prove them wrong time and time again. Then just last year was his stellar World Series performance, where he posted a .688 batting average on his way to winning the Series MVP.
Year after year Ortiz has continued to dazzle us with his bat and launch himself into the history books with each and every swing. He is part of a rare breed of pure hitters that we see less and less of in baseball every year. Nowadays teams are looking to draft the Mike Trouts who can do it all. That’s why only one true designated hitter, Frank Thomas, has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Ortiz is on track to make it two.
Thomas, who retired when he was 40, finished with .301 career batting average, 2,468 hits, 521 of which were home runs, and 1,704 RBIs. At age 38 Ortiz has a .285 average, 2,130 hits, 459 home runs and 1,520 RBIs. Obviously Ortiz has two more years to try to beat and match those numbers, but some are probably a little out of reach.
Nevertheless, Ortiz’s numbers are right up there with Thomas, and Ortiz has had to fight through a changing league that pitchers now dominate and where defensive shifts give batters headaches. Oh yeah, toss in three World Series rings along the way. Those championships only make Big Papi’s Hall of Fame potential even stronger. His flair for the dramatic has made him the most clutch hitter of his generation. That clutch factor should definitely play a role in his Hall of Fame potential.
He’s the 25th player to hit 400 homers with one team. His career 459 home runs tie him with Adam Dunn for 35th all time. His 1,020 extra-base hits are 30th all time. He’s a curse buster. He’s a sports hero and a Red Sox legend. What he has meant for that franchise is more than any DH has ever meant to an individual team. There should be no doubt about Ortiz when it comes to getting into the Hall of Fame. He’s earned his spot.