After going homerless for six games of the West Coast trip, David Ortiz finally ended the drought and reached the momentous milestone, launching A.J. Griffin's 89 mph fastball into the right field seats in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss.
With the blast, Ortiz joined exclusive company in Club 400, becoming the 49th player in Major League Baseball history to hit the plateau. It moved the slugger into sole possession of 49th on the all-time list, past Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline.
"I know at some point in my career when I’m not playing baseball, I might look at it from the outside and be like 'Well, I guess I had a good career," Ortiz told reporters in Oakland. "Just look at it right now as just another home run that you’ve put out there."
By those standards, Ortiz is continuing to pad his case as the top designated hitter in baseball history, over Seattle's Edgar Martinez, and vaulting himself as a serious candidate for the Hall of Fame.
While Martinez has missed the initial cuts for the Hall of Fame, Ortiz has already exceeded Martinez's career numbers in home runs (309) and RBIs (1,261) with 400 homers and 1,320 RBIs. His case is growing stronger by the year.
And he's only 36. If Ortiz maintains his pace — with 22 homers halfway through the year — and elects to play a few more seasons, the Red Sox designated hitter could be eyeing 500 home runs.
For the time being, Ortiz ranks seventh among active players in the all-time list, behind Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Albert Pujols, Jason Giambi, Andruw Jones and Paul Konerko.
"When I first got to the big leagues, I was just excited to be in the big leagues," Ortiz said. "But consistency. You've got to work through it. I just tried to keep on working as hard as I can to continue producing."
Consider the lack of steady production that most American League teams are receiving from their designated hitters. Only Kansas City's Billy Butler has thrived as an everyday DH, cranking out 16 long balls and 48 RBIs in 78 games this season.
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion has played a significant amount of time at first base despite handling duties as a designated hitter. But Butler and Ortiz, who are both All-Stars, are the only mainstays there.
But Ortiz has displayed longevity and stability, considering his 16-year career in the majors. Through it all, he's tagged 273 different pitchers for home runs in his career with Boston and Minnesota.
"You see pitchers with their approach — they didn’t want to show up on ESPN," Ortiz said.
That's the ultimate sign of respect as Ortiz continues to make his case for Cooperstown as the best DH in the game.
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