David Ortiz was a lock for World Series MVP long before Game 6 concluded. His enshrinement in Cooperstown should be just as much of a no-brainer.
Ortiz captured his third World Series title Wednesday as the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in Game 6 of the Fall Classic. He also captured his first World Series MVP after hitting .688 (11-for-16) with a .750 on-base percentage, two home runs, six RBIs and seven runs scored. It was a big-time performance by a big-time player, and it should go a long way toward strengthening Ortiz’s Hall of Fame case.
Every year, we’re left to debate what constitutes a Hall of Fame career. We’re bombarded with statistics, lectured on the importance of longevity and forced to compare and contrast generations. But if you toss it all aside for a second and make a decision based solely on the eyeball test — often, the most reliable test there is — it’s easy to see that Ortiz is a clear-cut Hall of Famer.
Ortiz is responsible for some of the most iconic images in MLB postseason history. And not only that, but the heroics have been spread out over 10 years. From his clutch walk-offs during the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series run — which, by the way, ended an 86-year championship drought — to his otherworldly presence in the 2013 postseason, Ortiz has shined brightest when the stakes have been highest.
And the postseason numbers aren’t too shabby, either. Ortiz holds the highest OPS in World Series history among players with at least 40 at-bats. He ranks ahead of Babe Ruth (1.214), Lou Gehrig (1.214) and Reggie Jackson (1.212) — you might have heard of those guys. His career .454 average (20-for-44) in the Fall Classic is the best among players with at least 50 World Series plate appearances.
Ortiz’s postseason numbers combined for all rounds are essentially on par with his regular-season totals, which is saying something given the heightened competition and the better all-around pitching that hitters typically face in October.
One major factor that will impact Ortiz’s quest for a Hall nod, of course, is his primary position. There has never been a designated hitter inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Edgar Martinez’s exclusion from Cooperstown thus far highlights just how difficult it is going to be for a DH to get in.
Those skeptical of inducting a DH should take a step back and assess their stubbornness, though. Should we really write off Ortiz as a Hall of Famer because he took advantage of a position that’s available? In other words, if Ortiz played first base throughout his career — which, in all likelihood, he could have aptly done — would the resistance to someday inducting the slugger be so strong? Probably not.
Ortiz’s World Series heroics this year were special, even for someone who has made a living off rising to the occasion when the situation calls for it. And amid his tremendous success, it became clear that Ortiz is already considered by his peers to be a future Hall of Famer.
“David’s just ‑‑ he’s just ‑‑ he’s David Ortiz. That says enough,” David Ross said after Game 5 on Monday. “The guy is a postseason stud and a stud in general. Like I said in my interview the other day, that’s why we call him ‘Cooperstown,’ because he does Hall of Fame stuff.”
“I haven’t played with many superstars. But [Ortiz] is the epitome of a superstar and a good teammate. And I don’t think you could ever ask for more out of an individual than what he does on and off the field,” Jon Lester added after Game 5. “The guy’s got a heart of gold. And he goes out there every single night and competes. And it’s been the past eight years or however long I’ve gotten to share a locker room with him, has been unbelievable to see him do the things he does on the field. It’s pretty special.
“You don’t get to play with many Hall of Famers, but I’d like to call him a Hall of Famer and the pleasure of playing with him for the last eight years, and hopefully a couple more.”
For what it’s worth, neither Ross nor Lester has a Hall of Fame vote. However, their praise for Ortiz speaks volumes about just how respected, how influential and how special a player the 37-year-old is considered to be across baseball.
Ortiz is a career .287 hitter with 431 home runs, 1,429 RBIs, a .381 on-base percentage and a .930 OPS. Those numbers typically reflect a fringe Hall of Famer, but when you add up everything, including his World Series contributions, Ortiz should be destined for Cooperstown.