Posted July 11, 2013

David Ortiz claims all-time hits record for designated hitters

Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez
David Ortiz is now the all-time leader in hits at the designated hitter position. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

David Ortiz is now the all-time leader in hits at the designated hitter position. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

On Wednesday night, David Ortiz smashed a double to left-center field in the second inning against the Mariners in Seattle. The hit was Ortiz’s seventh in three games, and it led to Boston’s first run in a rout. In the grander scheme, it was the 37-year-old Red Sox slugger’s 1,689th hit as a designated hitter, enabling him to surpass Harold Baines as the all-time leader among DHs. Ortiz later added a homer and a sacrifice fly.

Here’s the MLB.com video of Ortiz’s hit, which came at the expense of Aaron Harang. After its significance was relayed, the Safeco Field crowd responded with a standing ovation:

Seattle fans are no strangers to quality designated hitters; while it’s Baines whom Ortiz surpassed on the hit list, it’s longtime Mariner Edgar Martinez who stands as the only other DH with a legitimate case as the position’s all-time best. Here’s the top 10 ranked by hit totals as DHs, not including Wednesday’s game, with data via STATS LLC, whose totals for this category differ slightly from those found on Baseball-Reference.com, thus leading to a crisis of faith similar to the one lampooned here:

Rk Player Years PA H HR AVG OBP SLG
1t Harold Baines 1980-2001 6619 1688 235 .291 .370 .466
1t David Ortiz 1997-2013 6826 1688 369 .289 .385 .559
3 Edgar Martinez 1987-2004 6218 1607 243 .314 .428 .532
4 Hal McRae 1974-1987 5778 1526 143 .295 .358 .465
5 Paul Molitor 1978-1998 5334 1456 102 .308 .374 .454
6 Frank Thomas 1990-2008 5698 1288 269 .275 .394 .505
7 Don Baylor 1974-1988 5385 1210 219 .259 .344 .449
8 Chili Davis 1988-1999 4903 1175 200 .282 .381 .482
9 Travis Hafner 2002-2013 4415 1035 200 .277 .380 .507
10 Jose Canseco 1986-2001 3730 853 208 .265 .355 .510

Ortiz, who has about 10 percent more plate appearances in that role, has the advantage in counting stats, including a 1,206-1,003 lead in RBI, but Martinez carries a 25-point edge in batting average, a 43-point advantage in on-base percentage, and a 16-point advantage in OPS (960-944). Adjusting for Ortiz’s time in hitter-friendly Fenway Park, Martinez’s time in the Kingdome and Safeco, and the two players’ time spent at other positions (Ortiz was a first baseman, Martinez a third baseman), Martinez accumulated 68.3 career Wins Above Replacement, while Ortiz has just 42.4 WAR thus far.

Using my JAWS system, I’ve argued that Martinez, who has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for four years but never received more than 36.5 percent, is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. He finished his career with 2,247 hits, 309 homers, and a .312/.418/.515 line, with two batting titles and seven All-Star appearances to boot. Molitor, a member of the 3,000 hit club, is the only player who spent a plurality of his major-league career at DH in the Hall of Fame, though Thomas, who spent the majority of his career as DH and who will be on the ballot this winter, is likely to change that given his two MVP awards and 521 career home runs.

I’ve been asked several times if I think Ortiz is similarly worthy, but based upon WAR and JAWS, the answer thus far is no. Martinez has about a 26-win advantage for his career, and an 11.5-win gap for his JAWS peak score (best seven seasons), 43.5 to 32.0. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Ortiz had career totals of 1,905 hits, 419 homers, and a .287/.381/.550 line, with one home run title and eight All-Star appearances. Ortiz does make up some ground given a body of postseason work that includes a prominent role in Boston’s 2004 and 2007 world championships, but he also has been connected to performance-enhancing drugs via a leaked report that he tested positive during the supposedly anonymous 2003 survey test. Ortiz denied using PEDs, claiming that the positive came from over-the-counter supplements and vitamins.

Ortiz missed most of the second half of last season due to an Achilles strain in his right foot, and he missed the first 15 games of the year due to inflammation in both feet. Since returning, he has picked up where he’s left off, hitting .331/.413/.636 with 19 homers, ranking second in batting average and third in slugging percentage, and helping the Red Sox to the league’s best record at 55-37.

39 comments
BillieBob
BillieBob

Half the pitchers in baseball don't even bat, the other half hit like little girls, and most are mediocre fielders at best -- yet they get in for the one thing they do well: throw a ball. That's all they're asked to do.

DHs hit a ball. 

Is it so wrong then to allow a few of the top hitters in baseball history to get in even though they don't play the field? I don't think so...

gr8pnw
gr8pnw

Ask Yankee fans circa 1995 if Edgar was clutch in the playoffs after he hit .571 with a .667 OBP and 1.667 OPS with 10 exceptionally clutch RBI's over a grueling 5 game series.

Petzuk
Petzuk

Ortiz and Manny are both admitted/caught PED users. Manny has been blasted for it. Ortiz should be getting the same.

Keep them both out of Cooperstown..... Just like their predessors, McGuire and Sosa.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

I don't hold one being a DH against them for the Hall of Fame.  Ortiz simply doesn't have the rate stats yet to gain entry in my opinion.  Although he is getting close.  If he closes out the remainder of this year strongly and plays well next year it will be interesting.  His OPS and Slugging are very good.  He'll most likely be shy of 500 HR's and he'll be miles away from 3,000 hits but he has a lot of doubles right now and his walk and rbi totals are growing.

He'll most likely end up getting votes and will remain on the ballot for a long time and who knows what the sentiment will be like 12 yrs or so after he's done playing will be towards him and what the views of his stats will be then.

threefingeredbrown
threefingeredbrown

"Hitter-friendly Fenway Park"? For a left-handed pull power hitter, really? Are we still using that oft-refuted canard?

Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb
Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb

I have no issue with David Ortiz entering Cooperstown, so long as Edgar Martinez makes it first.

je1
je1

Not to mention hundreds of better players who happened to play before 1973. This is like having the most lefthanded doubles on Thursday road games. Who cares?

je1
je1

If only Paul Molitor was a fat sack who was no use in the field...

abturner2
abturner2

What about clutch moments and power.. You seem to discount these in your analysis...big papi is one of the games bigger stars.. I'm not sure Edgar was?

Delegator
Delegator

The biggest problem that guys like Martinez and Ortiz have when it comes to the hall of fame is that they are playing a position that many people think should not exist. The biggest boost to their chances would be for the NL to implement the designated hitter, but I don't see that happening soon.

KevinDoucette
KevinDoucette

The biggest difference with these two is that Ortiz did it in the clutch in the playoffs. Many careers are decided upon in the post season not the regular season. Look at Marino and Montana. Both deserve to be in but one did it in the playoffs while the other didn't.

Theo
Theo

Too bad he's a juiced up jerk who flirted with the Yankees every time he wasn't getting paid enough and hasn't made the playoffs in three years. Ya pink hat losers he's great. Worst attitude besides the little man syndrome king Pedey. Both of them are jerks and I hope to God they collapse again. If not a first round exit for the arrogant jerks who haven't been to the playoffs in three years. Three years pink hats remember that.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

Edgar should be in the Hall of Fame.  The man was a professional hitter, easily one of the best in the games history.  Consistent.  High on base percentage, high average and high OPS for his career too.

Edgar is currently tied for 33rd all time in MLB history for highest career OPS.  Thousands upon thousands of men have played in the major leagues.  33rd is quite an achievement.  It's higher than Hank Aaron's.  

Edgar is in 20th place all time in MLB history for highest on base percentage.  

He's 9th all time for batting average.

He has the 44th most walks as a major league hitter all time.

He has the 48th most doubles all time.

He finished his 18 yr career with more walks than strikeouts as a batter.  I don't know where this ranks but it's an amazing feat that very few do.


I'm a National league fan.  I don't like the DH, but it isn't the players fault that it's there.  

He's a hall of famer no questions asked.



SteveFarce
SteveFarce

@threefingeredbrown Also, just looking at park factor, historically it has been statistically neutral, never really going +/- 4 or so from 100. 

bjvande
bjvande

@threefingeredbrown  302 down the right field line is pretty darn friendly.  Even Yankee stadium has 314 feet down the right field line 


SteveFarce
SteveFarce

@je1 Other than the fact is nothing like that at all, good point, kinda, well, not really. 

jimmyjon_55555
jimmyjon_55555

@abturner2  dude-  he clearl mentions post season heroics... bottom line- hes not getting in.  edgar was a lot better and isnt getting in.  and edgar wasnt linked to steroids... funny how you just ignore that-  

bjvande
bjvande

@Delegator  Let's bury the fallacy that "they are playing a position that many people think should not exist. "   The only place the DH does not exist is for 15 teams in the National League.  Every other place in organized baseball has the DH.   Given how specialized pitchers are today, it is ridiculous to think they could hit.   And losing one to a base running accident is just plain stupid.

Mel
Mel

@KevinDoucette No the biggest difference is Ortiz was caught using steriods

jimmyjon_55555
jimmyjon_55555

@KevinDoucette worst analogy ever.  marino and montana?  both top 5 Qbs.  regardless of postseason.  ortiz is a half way player-  a 287 hitter- and is connected to steroids.  hes not getting in.  that simple.  

tom o
tom o

@Theo 

I'm only getting vibes from one jerk in this thread, and it's not Ortiz

KevinDoucette
KevinDoucette

@Theo Looks like someone is having a bad hair day. Settle down Theo it's just baseball. Nothing really important on the grand scale of thing.

jimmyjon_55555
jimmyjon_55555

@Sportsfan18 cant compare edgar and hank aaron.  are you high?  and for the record- hank aaron has a higher OPS+ which compares players during their respective era.  

Michael10
Michael10

@Sportsfan18 I think Edgar belongs in the Hall, too, but let's get the numbers right. He ranks 95th all time in batting, not 9th. Also, more walks the strikeouts is not that rare a feat; more than 2200 players have done it, including ones like Ozzie Smith (1000+ BBs to 500+ Ks) who were not really regarded for their batting prowess...

And lest we forget, Edgar was "Papi" first...

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@bjvande @Delegator   bjvande, he didn't say the DH doesn't exist, he said that "many people THINK (the DH) should not exist".  

So when you say the only place it doesn't exist is on the 15 teams in the National League, it isn't a rebuttal to those who think, feel and believe that the DH shouldn't exist anywhere in baseball.

You simply stated a fact.  He stated a belief.

bjvande
bjvande

@jimmyjon_55555 @KevinDoucette There were lots of half way players.  Harmon Killebrew comes to mind as the best example, Rudy York was another.  It is just that they did not have the chance to sit and put a real fielder in the game when they played. 

Petzuk
Petzuk

No WS titles in bean town if not for their two best hitters using PEDs (Ortiz and Manny).

Go PED Sox!

Theo
Theo

@KevinDoucette @Theo If you lived among these lifeless jerks who somehow define themselves by a baseball and football team you'd hate them too. Never lived in a worse, yet so self-important place. Boston is a tiny, white, lame city and Ortiz and Pedroia are arrogant jerks who have missed the last three years worth of playoffs. Three years pink hats!!

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@bjvande @Sportsfan18   Thank you and indeed I did.  It was a typo.  I went to the same place you did for all the stats I posted.  Thank you for pointing it out.

Matthew10
Matthew10

@jimmyjon_55555 @Sportsfan18 He never compared them as players. Before you criticize someone, consider what they are actually saying. He was merely placing  a *single* statistical category in context by referencing Hank Aaron. It's a fact. Why would that equate to saying Edgar is being compared in totality to Hank?

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@Michael10 @Sportsfan18   Michael10  As for those who walk more than they strikeout, it was much more common decades ago than now.  In today's game it is much less common.  In 1929, 80% of all qualified hitters had higher walk rates. In 2011, only 6% managed the feat. The lowest percentage the league has ever seen was in 2010, when only Joe Mauer, Jeff keppinger, Daric Barton and Albert Puljos pulled it off (3% of all qualified hitters). That’s an incredible drop.

I didn't provide context vs. all time and today's game, which is what I meant.  You are correct about all time but it doesn't happen nearly as often in today's game among qualified hitters.

According to MLB.stats right now there are only 3 qualified hitters out of 164 that currently have more walks than strikeouts or only 1.8% of hitters in both leagues combined.

bjvande
bjvande

@Sportsfan18 @bjvande @Delegator My fact of 15 is an indication of how small the number is that think that the DH should not exist, and is a direct rebuttal of his foolish belief that many think it should not exist.   15 is not many

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@Theo @KevinDoucette   Theo.  Boston has over 600,000 people.  There are over 30,000 cities and towns in the U.S.  

There are only 71 urban areas in the U.S. with a population over 500,000 people.  Boston ranks #7 on the list of largest U.S. urban areas with over 4 million people in the urban area.

I guess you need to move to Mexico City or Tokyo then since you think Boston is tiny.

Kenny S
Kenny S

The last time I checked there haven't been any walls erected around Boston keeping people in, feel free to leave if living here makes you so unhappy.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@Matthew10 @jimmyjon_55555 @Sportsfan18   Thank you Matthew10 as that is all I was doing.  It was simply to point out that Edgar was an amazing hitter and most folks would be surprised at just how high up he ranks in many hitting categories.  

No jimmyjon, I wasn't and I wouldn't compare Edgar to Hammerin Hank.  I'm 45 yrs old and I love the game of baseball.  Good comment about the OPS+ too jimmyjon.