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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Howard: David Ortiz shaping up to become first steroid era Teflon slugger

Ortiz is shaping up to be the first slugger from his era to make the Hall of Fame.

You realize that, right?

Ortiz seems on an inexorable path to becoming something none of his contemporaries has so far: the steroid era’s first Teflon slugger.

“He’s a Hall of Famer in my eyes,” Red Sox teammate Mike Napoli said Monday.

But how is it that Ortiz seems poised to pull off what McGwire (11 percent of this year’s vote), Barry Bonds (34.7), Roger Clemens (35.4) and Canseco (off the ballot after drawing just 1.1 percent) could not? Bonds, for example, dwarfed Ortiz’s home run total, 762 to 456.

Why does Ortiz alone seem poised to vault lightly over the steroid suspicions that were, in his case, admittedly incomplete when, say, Mike Piazza, another Hall of Fame shutout so far, could point out he has never failed an MLB-administered drug test, period?

...For years, Yankees observers have groused how the Yanks never even brushed back Ortiz even when he was raking against them and/or when the Sox threw at Derek Jeter. But really, hardly anybody throws at Ortiz. He’s been hit only 35 times in his 15-plus seasons; Jason Giambi, the active career leader, has been plunked 180 times. Prince Fielder was hit 21 times in 2010 alone.

This is quite a sleight of hand Ortiz is pulling off.

Remember, Ortiz seemed in danger of being released by the Sox five years ago before undergoing a back-from-the-brink revival that saw him hit .309 with 30 homers and 103 RBIs last season with a .959 OPS, and he won the World Series MVP award by hitting .688—all at the age of 37. And yet, instead of fanning renewed suspicions that he must be still juicing, it has been used as proof that he’s just damn good, thanks, and that bad stretch—that was the aberration.

Thanks to Chan Hozone Park.

Repoz Posted: July 29, 2014 at 04:23 PM | 58 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof, red sox

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   1. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 29, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4759874)
Was is Pettite given a pass?

The mediots are inconsistent, that is why.
   2. Sonic Youk Posted: July 29, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4759893)
It has become an article of faith, but in what way is Ortiz given a pass? I feel like steroids come up any time his name is mentioned. If anything, it seems like most fans think the evidence against him is far better than it is.
   3. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4759902)
Single-season HR high: 54
Relationship with press: friendly
Teammates with a preferable target?: yes
   4. geonose Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4759903)
I don't know...Edgar Martinez was a better all-around DH, and he hasn't come close to even sniffing election. I can't see Ortiz getting in, and it won't be the PED stigma. It'll be the DH stigma.
   5. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4759906)
I thought Vladimir Guerrero had a good chance of actually being the first slugger of the Sillyball era to make the Hall of Fame, until he too was hit by steroid rumors (to which he has yet to respond, btw).
   6. Group Captain Mandrake Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4759910)
I don't know...Edgar Martinez was a better all-around DH, and he hasn't come close to even sniffing election. I can't see Ortiz getting in, and it won't be the PED stigma. It'll be the DH stigma.


Yes, Edgar was a better player. But due to the nature of the beast, Ortiz is a better candidate, that is to say, likely to draw more support. He may not get elected, but he will get far more support than Edgar. And I'm OK with that. It's not like he's completely unqualified, like say Jack Morris. In terms of quality of career, I don't see Ortiz as less worthy than say Lou Brock, Kirby Puckett, or Jim Rice. Lower level HOFers true, but all elected by the writers, not Frank Frisch cronies.
   7. BDC Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:28 PM (#4759916)
I don't see Ortiz as less worthy than say Lou Brock, Kirby Puckett, or Jim Rice

And all four have things that Martinez doesn't: three were postseason heroes for multiple champions, and Rice was an MVP (quite a legitimate one, too). Martinez batted .156 in three ALCS. He was a great hitter, but things did not break right for him in October, and despite SSS and all of that, things sometimes need to break right for a player to win an honor. That doesn't diminish what he actually did in baseball, which was considerable.

I do see from B-Ref that Edgar Martinez was a five-time winner of the Edgar Martinez Award, which I find appropriate. But why didn't he win that award 18 times? :)
   8. Kurt Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4759919)
Wait, didn't the HOF just induct a steroid-era slugger three days ago?
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4759924)
Martinez batted .156 in three ALCS. He was a great hitter, but things did not break right for him in October, and despite SSS and all of that, things sometimes need to break right for a player to win an honor. That doesn't diminish what he actually did in baseball, which was considerable.


He also hit .375/.481/.781 in four ACDS.
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4759930)
The effectiveness of Ortiz's Teflon coating has yet to be tested. There may be enough Big Hall, non-PED zealot, no DH penalty voters to put him in the Hall, but I have considerable doubt. On the plus side, he's still adding to his case; on the minus side, one tell-all book or mis-timed Dominican Milkshake might completely change the narrative.
   11. madvillain Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4759935)
It has become an article of faith, but in what way is Ortiz given a pass? I feel like steroids come up any time his name is mentioned. If anything, it seems like most fans think the evidence against him is far better than it is.


It's all relative. He doesn't get a free pass, but compared to say Bonds, he's treated with kid gloves.
   12. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 29, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4759936)
But really, hardly anybody throws at Ortiz. He’s been hit only 35 times in his 15-plus seasons; Jason Giambi, the active career leader, has been plunked 180 times. Prince Fielder was hit 21 times in 2010 alone.

Doesn't follow. You can't judge how often somebody gets thrown at by HBP numbers. Ortiz hates getting hit, and he is very very good at getting out of the way of pitches, despite his considerable size. So of course his HBP is going to look poor, compared to guys who are happy to turn their shoulder into a pitch, and take a free base. Still doesn't tell you how often they were thrown at.

Why does Ortiz alone seem poised to vault lightly over the steroid suspicions that were, in his case, admittedly incomplete when, say, Mike Piazza, another Hall of Fame shutout so far, could point out he has never failed an MLB-administered drug test, period?

Piazza is going to get in. He got 57.8% on his first ballot, and 62.2 on a very stacked second ballot. Yes he should have gone in first try, but he IS going in. Lumping in him with Bonds/McGwire/Clemens et al who appear DOA, without noting that difference, is extremely disingenuous.
   13. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 29, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4759940)
I suspect David Ortiz will outperform the fairly similar Juan Gonzalez's peak HoF vote of 5.2% by one or two percent.
   14. villageidiom Posted: July 29, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4759954)
Ortiz is shaping up to be the first slugger from his era to make the Hall of Fame.

You realize that, right?
I figure he's playing for another 2-3 years. Let's say 2 just to get it over with faster. So he retires after the 2016 season. He goes on the ballot in 2021. And he's not a slam-dunk case, tacking on 2 decline years to his current stats. But let's say he somehow gets elected on the first ballot.

So you're saying no other slugger from his era will be elected before 2021? Ken Griffey Jr? Jim Thome? Chipper Jones? Paul Konerko (assuming he retires sooner)? Mike Piazza? Jeff Bagwell?

I find laughable the notion that Ortiz is voted in before any of the above.
   15. Kurt Posted: July 29, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4759957)
FRANK THOMAS WAS JUST INDUCTED.

Jeez.
   16. joeysdadjoe Posted: July 29, 2014 at 06:25 PM (#4759960)
I don't think he gets in. Don't mistake the press kissing his a$$ for access with HOF votes.
   17. Kurt Posted: July 29, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4759968)
I'd be happy to make a bet where I win if he gets in, I lose if he never cracks 10% (as 13 suggests), and nobody wins if he peaks between 10 and 75%.
   18. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: July 29, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4759975)
I'd be happy to make a bet where I win if he gets in, I lose if he never cracks 10% (as 13 suggests), and nobody wins if he peaks between 10 and 75%.


I too would be happy to make bets where I have no chance of losing and a small chance of winning.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: July 29, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4760019)
Yes, "steroid era slugger" is a weird construction. But based on the excerpt, the article is all over the place and just seems to assume he's getting in when, roids or not, that's hardly a given. Still, presumably the author would respond with something like "but I meant steroid era sluggers who have some steroid taint, not Thomas, Griffey, Chipper, Thome ... err, Piazza, Biggio, Bagwell ... err, I meant steroid era guys with a 50+ HR season not named Griffey or Thome ... err, I meant guys outed by the NYT or the Mitchell Report or a positive test or a subsequent confession or who appeared before Congress without confessing (except Frank Thomas) and thankfully Clemens is a pitcher not a slugger ... C'mon, you know what I mean, out of a group of a half-dozen or so people definitely not getting into the HoF because of steroids and David Ortiz, Ortiz may be the first one to make it."
   20. BDC Posted: July 29, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4760022)
He also hit .375/.481/.781 in four ACDS

Sure, and this is confirmation of his talent. But ALDS performance and $4.95 will get you a latte in Cooperstown on induction weekend.
   21. Buck Coats Posted: July 29, 2014 at 08:22 PM (#4760034)
It's all relative. He doesn't get a free pass, but compared to say Bonds, he's treated with kid gloves.


Well sure, but Bonds isn't a fair comparison, there's actual evidence that Bonds used currently banned substances.

The real comparison is to Sosa, where the "evidence" against is identical to the evidence against Ortiz. And they definitely get treated differently.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4760040)
The effectiveness of Ortiz's Teflon coating has yet to be tested. There may be enough Big Hall, non-PED zealot, no DH penalty voters to put him in the Hall, but I have considerable doubt. On the plus side, he's still adding to his case; on the minus side, one tell-all book or mis-timed Dominican Milkshake might completely change the narrative.


That is the thing, people like to pretend that Ortiz and Pettitte are immune or better regarded by the press than other roid tainted players, but they haven't been put up for the big vote yet, and it doesn't really feel like they are that immune. As mentioned, roid rumors come up every time those names are mentioned, and sure you'll get some Yankee writers or Red Sox writers who might show their hypocrisy by voting for Ortiz and Pettitte while not voting for Bagwell or Piazza, but there is no evidence that an Arizona or Colorado writer is going to go hypocritical for those guys.
   23. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: July 29, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4760054)
Not only was Edgar clearly the far superior baseball player, but unlike Ortiz, he has (to my knowledge) no hint of steroid rumor attached to him at all, as opposed to a "documented failed test" or whatever Ortiz is claimed to have. Edgar even has the intangible thing going for him - played for only one team for his entire career, universally beloved (the Mariners play in a stadium located on Edgar Martinez Drive). Does anyone outside Boston like Ortiz? I guess he smiles a lot, but he whines a lot too and players seem to all dislike him, at least from the media reports, which means very little.

The only things "in favor" or Ortiz are playing in a big market and 44 at bats in the world series. Which isn't to demean those 44 at bats - they were rightfully memorable at bats! But when one player is just so much better, it's a shame to see the inferior player get the hype.

I do think Ortiz will get into the HoF (depending on how long he lasts, and how many milestones he reaches, if any), or at least will get a lot closer than Edgar, which will tell you a lot more about the folks voting on such things than it tells you about the players.
   24. kingj01 Posted: July 29, 2014 at 09:14 PM (#4760057)
I thought Vladimir Guerrero had a good chance of actually being the first slugger of the Sillyball era to make the Hall of Fame, until he too was hit by steroid rumors (to which he has yet to respond, btw).

Has something new come out on Vlad? The only steroid link I had ever heard was that he had trained with Angel Presinal at one time, which is hardly damning. And certainly not something he would feel obligated to respond to.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4760078)
The only things "in favor" or Ortiz are playing in a big market and 44 at bats in the world series. Which isn't to demean those 44 at bats - they were rightfully memorable at bats! But when one player is just so much better, it's a shame to see the inferior player get the hype.


Agree that Edgar is a much better player, I have him right on the borderline(somedays I have him over, others under) and yes it is sad that Ortiz a guy who is two tiers lower than him, will get much more support more than likely. Still Edgar is below Larry Walker and is getting better support than him, so it's not like Edgar is being overlooked.
   26. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 29, 2014 at 10:06 PM (#4760083)


Has something new come out on Vlad? The only steroid link I had ever heard was that he had trained with Angel Presinal at one time, which is hardly damning. And certainly not something he would feel obligated to respond to.


That was news to me too.

I agree with cfb. Until these guys (namely, Pettitte and Ortiz) are up for a vote, there have been no passes given. Players with PEDs attached to their name are treated differently when they're active compared to when they go in front of the HoF electorate. Bonds won his final MVP after the BALCO story broke. Arod was voted WS MVP after admitting usage (and continued getting MVP votes, though he was no longer one of the AL's best). Ryan Braun seems to have gone about his 2014 season without much in the way of incident. That doesn't mean all will be forgiven by the Hall guardians.


   27. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:39 AM (#4760170)
FRANK THOMAS WAS JUST INDUCTED.

Jeez.


But Frank had not the slightest whiff of any allegation of steroid use, as he was always a huge muscular man, all the way back to his days on the Auburn Football team, so he is clearly 100% natural.
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:41 AM (#4760172)
Yes, Frank did it the right way. He is clean.

Just ask him.

Or ask any anti-steroids crusader, because they know. They just know that he never used steroids a day in his life.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4760173)
But Frank had not the slightest whiff of any allegation of steroid use, as he was always a huge muscular man, all the way back to his days on the Auburn Football team, so he is clearly 100% natural.


That comment wasn't in regards to whether there was a whiff of ped taint, just whether or not a slugger(post 5/8/14) from the PED era would go in at all.
   30. madvillain Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4760175)
But Frank had not the slightest whiff of any allegation of steroid use, as he was always a huge muscular man, all the way back to his days on the Auburn Football team, so he is clearly 100% natural.


btf dogma...

Sure, we can't prove Thomas is clean, so assume he's guilty because _____

where ___ is "he's big" and "he hit a lot of hr" and "he played during the steroid era".

well sure, but alot are guilty by that standard and it seems silly especially wrt to Thomas given:

We know Frank never was involved in steroid hearsay and we know he never showed up on any failed tests alleged or not. We know he was a guy that had a natural aging curve.

A number of of the big name sluggers from Frank's era were in one way linked to PEDs (or suddenly went from good to great at 30-35) and Frank comes up clean on both tests. His case is about as airtight as it gets for players of his caliber during that era.

Does that clear him completely? #### no, but it sure as hell puts him pretty damn far on the "probably didn't do PEDs" (defined during the era as HGH and/or various forms of Testosterone) side of the continuum.
   31. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4760176)
That comment wasn't in regards to whether there was a whiff of ped taint, just whether or not a slugger(post 5/8/14) from the PED era would go in at all.

It would have happened sooner, but Mike Hampton gpt hurt.
   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 01:17 AM (#4760187)
btf dogma...

Sure, we can't prove Thomas is clean, so assume he's guilty because _____


I just get a kick out of the people who "know" he's clean (and Rivera and Jeter and Pettitte-- whoops.)

And people _do_ think they know that these players are clean, so let's stop pretending that people are merely "assuming" they're clean. People here would bet the farm on it.

We know Frank never was involved in steroid hearsay


Neither was Manny. Or Clemens. Or ARod. (Remember when ARod was supposed to be the "clean home run record holder"?)

But wait -- if steroid hearsay means we should be skeptical of a player then we should be skeptical of Piazza and Bagwell and Sosa.

and we know he never showed up on any failed tests alleged or not.


Neither did Clemens.

We know he was a guy that had a natural aging curve.


As did Canseco and McGwire.

A number of of the big name sluggers from Frank's era were in one way linked to PEDs (or suddenly went from good to great at 30-35)


Like Miguel Tejada and Matt Lawton?

and Frank comes up clean on both tests. His case is about as airtight as it gets for players of his caliber during that era.


Lots of players' cases have been "airtight"... until they weren't.

Are people even paying attention? As the above shows, THERE IS NO PATTERN for clean players or steroids players.
   33. Cooper Nielson Posted: July 30, 2014 at 06:56 AM (#4760215)
Does that clear him completely? #### no, but it sure as hell puts him pretty damn far on the "probably didn't do PEDs" (defined during the era as HGH and/or various forms of Testosterone) side of the continuum.

I'm only playing devil's advocate here, but it seems to me that we "know" Frank Thomas is clean to the same degree of certainty that we "know" he was on PEDs.

He doesn't have any (publicly released) failed tests. He's quite strongly denied taking PEDs and has been a vocal opponent of them. He didn't have his best years at an unnaturally late age. Reporters who have had access to "unnamed sources" and the locker room have not accused him (as far as I know). So, you're right, those are good indications that he didn't do PEDs.

However, he played college football at an SEC school. He was a very muscular man. He hit a lot of home runs, and could hit them very far. He did have a bit of a late-career renaissance at age 38. He had many injuries in his 30s, and thus many (Pettitte-like) excuses to "just want to speed his recovery." He played in the pre-testing era when we know that steroid use was common. So, you know, if you were presented with an anonymous player with those characteristics, you would probably lean toward "He might have at least tried PEDs."

If we're just talking about big-time sluggers of his era, let's say players who reached the 500 HR plateau since 2000*, then, sure, I'd say Frank Thomas is pretty far to the "probably didn't do PEDs" side of the continuum, since so many of them have admitted it, or been "exposed."

However, if the population is "all baseball players of his era," the evidence we have (statistical, visual, medical, anecdotal) would seem to place him somewhere closer to the middle.

* Here's that group, BTW:

1. Barry Bonds - Caught
2. Alex Rodriguez - Admitted, then caught
3. Ken Griffey - Widely considered clean
4. Jim Thome - Not sure; generally considered clean, I guess
5. Sammy Sosa - Widely considered dirty; no hard proof
6. Mark McGwire - Admitted
7. Rafael Palmeiro - Caught
8. Manny Ramirez - Caught
9. Frank Thomas - ???
10. Albert Pujols - Not sure; probably considered clean
11. Gary Sheffield - Admitted

Taking out Thomas, a full 70% of those players have some kind of "PED taint" to them. And I think Thome and Pujols are in a kind of "I'm not saying he did, but it wouldn't surprise me..." zone. Griffey is the only one that virtually everyone believes was clean.

So you could make a not-all-that-convoluted argument that simply by appearing on this list, a player should be shifted farther to the "probably did PEDs" side of the continuum, just in terms of probability.
   34. John Northey Posted: July 30, 2014 at 07:35 AM (#4760220)
Ortiz is an interesting one. Many feel he passes the 'felt like a HOFer' test (including myself...you see him in a game and you just feel like that is a HOF'er). The problem is his raw numbers, for a DH or even a 1B, just aren't that impressive - in a high offensive era he is still shy of 500 HR, won't come close to 3000 hits, has a 139 OPS+ (tied for 80th all time) which is good but not 'wow' (Jason Giambi has the same figure), led in HR once, RBI twice, walks twice, OBP once, total bases once, and intentional walks twice. For a pure slugger a black ink score of 16 just won't do it, nor does his 125 grey ink (average HOF'er 144).

Really, he shouldn't be viewed as even close to the HOF even if he didn't have some PED stink added, just due to the DH only and nice but not HOF numbers offensively. But he just has that 'aura' about him like Jim Rice had and that might be enough for the writers.
   35. Cooper Nielson Posted: July 30, 2014 at 07:55 AM (#4760224)
Really, he shouldn't be viewed as even close to the HOF even if he didn't have some PED stink added, just due to the DH only and nice but not HOF numbers offensively. But he just has that 'aura' about him like Jim Rice had and that might be enough for the writers.

Yeah, I'm in the same boat. To me, he "feels" like a HOFer but when Ilook at the statistical record, it's kind of underwhelming -- especially for a guy who doesn't add any defensive value.

But he's definitely got the "fame" part of the Hall of Fame down. (Yeah, I know that the purpose of the Hall of Fame is to confer fame, not to recognize it.)
   36. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 30, 2014 at 08:31 AM (#4760228)
We know Frank never was involved in steroid hearsay


The fact that he played Division I college football for a major university (Auburn) in a major conference (SEC) during the 1980s in a position that required power and strength (tight end) would normally put him in that "raised eyebrow" group of potential users.
   37. SandyRiver Posted: July 30, 2014 at 08:37 AM (#4760230)
Remember, Ortiz seemed in danger of being released by the Sox five years ago before undergoing a back-from-the-brink revival that saw him hit .309 with 30 homers and 103 RBIs last season with a .959 OPS, and he won the World Series MVP award by hitting .688—all at the age of 37. And yet, instead of fanning renewed suspicions that he must be still juicing, it has been used as proof that he’s just damn good, thanks, and that bad stretch—that was the aberration.


Nope, that was the 2008 wrist injury, a lingering condition that wrecked his 2009 and may have contributed to his awful start in 2010. Nomar suffered a somewhat similar injury (though from different cause) that destroyed his 2001 season and even though he was still good in 2002+, was never again the player he'd been 1997-2000. Mark Teixiera had that kind of wrist injury in 2013 and played all of 15 games that year.
   38. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: July 30, 2014 at 09:16 AM (#4760235)
Right. Ortiz got plunked on the wrist the same game that Manny hit his 500th HR, in Baltimore. I was there. That wrist injury was the cause of all sorts of problems over the next couple of years.

Ortiz is in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative. How does he prove he's not currently using? Well he gets tested, yes. He's been tested 9 times this year already. But no one seems to accept that passing those tests means anything at all. "Oh, he's found a way to beat the system, just look at the numbers!" The guy has not tested positive since testing started in 2004, TEN YEARS AGO. Remember, the issues that came out a few years ago was over the 2003 results, not recent ones. But there's seemingly he (nor any other player with that label) can do to "prove" they're clean.

He's having a down year this year from last, which would be entirely typical of a 37 year old player entering the final phases of his career. Instead it's seemingly used to target him more. I honestly don't understand it.

As for the HoF, of course he's going to be considered a strong candidate. How many great postseason moments does a guy have to have to get considered anyway? Ortiz has had his opportunities in the postseason and has made the most of them, time and time again. Yes, it's unfair that Edgar for example did not get the same opps. But Ortiz has made the most of his, has come up huge, and is the most recognizable face from an era where the Red Sox went from perennial bridesmaids to 3 time World Series Champions. That should count for something.
   39. Ron J2 Posted: July 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4760274)
#33 The interesting thing about Thomas is that he hits the markers you'd assume for a user -- assuming that steroids cause you to hit more home runs.

A lot of people assume that the offensive explosion of 1993 is explained by steroids. So I looked at all of the people who played regularly in 1992 and 1993 (300+ PAs in both years) and just compared their home runs per balls in play [HR / (AB+SF-K)]. Thomas is near the top of the list (#7 -- +16 HR per 500 balls in play. Ken Griffey Jr. is #4 on the list. Palmeiro is #13, right between Kent Hrbek and Craig Biggio)

And if steroids are performance enhancing and testing causes users to stop you'd expect players who were using to see a drop in HR rates when testing came in and caused them to stop. Again Thomas is near the top -- this time in decrease in HR per balls in play when formal testing started.

To be clear, I don't think it's anything real. It's just that Thomas is the only player to hit both marks.

Now HR/ball in play is inherently pretty volatile. In 1993 there was only 1 player who had a historically unusual increase in HR/balls in play -- Phil Plantier.
   40. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 30, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4760296)
nor does his 125 grey ink (average HOF'er 144).

I wouldn't vote for Ortiz (even as a Sox homer). But how is being slightly below average HoFer a bad thing for his case? Are you only going to elect above average HoFers?
   41. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 30, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4760310)
The black ink/grey ink tests are a bit outdated. With expansion earning either of those is more difficult than it was. To be in the top 10 of something means you are in the top 8% of hitters during the DH era (14 teams * 9 positions = 126 spots) compared with being in the top 16% (8 teams * 8 positions) during the pre-expansion era.
   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 30, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4760312)
Well, if Mike Napoli thinks it, it must be inexorable. Because evidence.
   43. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4760322)
The fact that he played Division I college football for a major university (Auburn) in a major conference (SEC) during the 1980s in a position that required power and strength (tight end) would normally put him in that "raised eyebrow" group of potential users.


Plus, he... played in MLB through the 90s and beyond.

Quite frankly I think it's naïve and short sighted to bet that any single player from that era would be clean. Not that one doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt, but the smart money is on "user."
   44. AROM Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4760324)
As did Canseco and McGwire.


Canseco, yes. McGwire, hell no. The guy hit .201 (103 OPS+) at age 27, had a career year at 34, maintained the high rate of production to 36, then broke down at 37.

I don't think, given the evidence, that aging patterns are even the slightest bit useful in the steroid witch hunt. But regardless of the cause, McGwire's aging curve was one of the more unusual ones.
   45. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4760326)
Right. Ortiz got plunked on the wrist the same game that Manny hit his 500th HR, in Baltimore. I was there.


As was I.

As to HOF, if Ortiz gets 500 more games at this level we can talk. As in, start the conversation. He would be a weak candidate then. But now he's not even on radar, IMO.
   46. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4760328)
I don't think, given the evidence, that aging patterns are even the slightest bit useful in the steroid witch hunt. But regardless of the cause, McGwire's aging curve was one of the more unusual ones.


Not for being washed up at 37, though. That's pretty common -- granted it usually happens sooner but remember that the useful careers of HOF talents typically last longer than those of other players -- and when people talk about Bonds they claim that steroids is why he was such a great hitter at that age.
   47. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4760333)
Quick thing about Ortiz: Even those disinclined to support his HOF candidacy say that if he gets to 500 HRs, the case gets meaningfully stronger...but entering this year, there was a lot of doubt about whether or not he could get to 500 ("I don't know...69 more HRs is a lot for a guy entering his age 38 year.")

It certainly is, and guys can collapse at his age very quickly, but he is poised to end up with about 35 HRs this year. He is currently at 456, and 35 would put him at 466 at the end of the year. He basically has two years left on his deal with Boston. It is not hard to see him hit, say, 22 next year, and 12 in his final year, which would be 500. It's also appearing increasingly likely that he'll end up at about 1,700 RBI (he's at 1506 right now), which would put him in the top 25 all time; 580 doubles (that would be top 20); top 50 OPS+; etc.

His rate stats aren't as good this year, but the HR and RBI are strong enough this year that they are making a couple of key counting stats increasingly likely to be net plusses in his argument.
   48. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4760346)
As for the HoF, of course he's going to be considered a strong candidate. How many great postseason moments does a guy have to have to get considered anyway? Ortiz has had his opportunities in the postseason and has made the most of them, time and time again. Yes, it's unfair that Edgar for example did not get the same opps. But Ortiz has made the most of his, has come up huge, and is the most recognizable face from an era where the Red Sox went from perennial bridesmaids to 3 time World Series Champions. That should count for something.


Sure, being the awesome World Series guy should count for something, though how much is certainly in question. But the bigger issue is that his career has not been all that great. For a quick and dirty comparison, Edgar Martinez has 50% more bWAR! Edgar had a *massively* better career, and he is a borderline candidate. If Edgar is not necessarily deserving of the HOF (which seems like an reasonable statement), then Ortiz is nowhere near being a candidate. He would have to have another 6+ years of excellent hitting to even *begin* to be a reasonable candidate. 44 World Series at bats don't make up for such a huge deficit in career achievement.
   49. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4760362)

His rate stats aren't as good this year,


Sure they are. Offense is down a bit. Nothing wrong with a 133 OPS+.
   50. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4760374)
His rate stats aren't as good this year,


Sure they are. Offense is down a bit. Nothing wrong with a 133 OPS+.

You missed an "as."

Yes, his rates stats are good. But they're nowhere near as good as he'd put up the previous three seasons.
   51. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4760394)
I did miss the "as." I'm not sure "nowhere near as good" is quite accurate, though.
   52. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4760398)
I'm not sure "nowhere near as good" is quite accurate, though.


He averaged around 160 the last three years. 133 is quite the drop from there.

   53. alilisd Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4760400)
Wait, didn't the HOF just induct a steroid-era slugger three days ago?


Hush! The "Writer" is telling a story!
   54. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4760419)
He averaged around 160 the last three years. 133 is quite the drop from there.


I guess... I mean, I won't argue the point too hard but I still don't see it as _that_ far off. But sure.

Sort of related: Brett Gardner in his last two games turned himself into one of the ten most valuable players in the AL per WAR, going 7-10 with 3 HR and 2 2B. He picked up 0.2 WAR just last night, and probably 0.3 WAR the night before when he hit the 2 HRs. Hitters can pick up OPS+ very fast with two or three really good games, even this late in the year. Gardner went from a 768 OPS to a 789 OPS to an 812 OPS in two games. He is now at 125 and he was probably at 112 or 113 just two days ago.
   55. SandyRiver Posted: July 30, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4760458)
#33 The interesting thing about Thomas is that he hits the markers you'd assume for a user -- assuming that steroids cause you to hit more home runs.

A lot of people assume that the offensive explosion of 1993 is explained by steroids. So I looked at all of the people who played regularly in 1992 and 1993 (300+ PAs in both years) and just compared their home runs per balls in play [HR / (AB+SF-K)]. Thomas is near the top of the list (#7 -- +16 HR per 500 balls in play. Ken Griffey Jr. is #4 on the list. Palmeiro is #13, right between Kent Hrbek and Craig Biggio)

And if steroids are performance enhancing and testing causes users to stop you'd expect players who were using to see a drop in HR rates when testing came in and caused them to stop. Again Thomas is near the top -- this time in decrease in HR per balls in play when formal testing started.

To be clear, I don't think it's anything real. It's just that Thomas is the only player to hit both marks.

Now HR/ball in play is inherently pretty volatile. In 1993 there was only 1 player who had a historically unusual increase in HR/balls in play -- Phil Plantier.


I'm glad you included this caveat, because a closer look at Thomas' numbers makes the rest even fuzzier. His HR/500 BIP in 1993 was +16 compared to 1992, but only +7 next to 1991, his first full year. OPS+ for those three years: 180,174,177. Nothing to see here.

The "start of formal testing" is even more unclear. In 2002 the HR/500 was 27 (I'm counting the HR as BIP for this exercise), while in 2003 it was 38.5 and for his 240 AB in 2004 it was 37.5. For 2006 ('05 he had only 34 games, with rate at 57) the number is 42, then goes into end-game decline in 2007, his age 39 season, with 24.
   56. SandyRiver Posted: July 30, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4760496)
For a quick and dirty comparison, Edgar Martinez has 50% more bWAR! Edgar had a *massively* better career, and he is a borderline candidate. If Edgar is not necessarily deserving of the HOF (which seems like an reasonable statement), then Ortiz is nowhere near being a candidate. He would have to have another 6+ years of excellent hitting to even *begin* to be a reasonable candidate. 44 World Series at bats don't make up for such a huge deficit in career achievement.


To start off, I can agree with the conclusions I've quoted, though (Papi/Steroids unfactored) he'll never have the drama and clutchiness rep that Ortiz has garnered, deservedly or not. However, the 46 WS AB (plus 15 BB) is only part of the story, as Ortiz also did some stuff in the 2004 ALDS and LCS. While BBRef has Edgar's total WAR nearly 50% ahead, his oWAR is closer to 41%, 66.4 to 47.2. About half the difference is OPS+ (147 vs 139, same PA - Ortiz ahead by a whole 19 as of right now)), and most of the rest probably because his OPS+ is OBP-heavy compared to Papi's. Martinez' 564 games at 3B also are a bigger factor than Ortiz' 265 at 1B.
   57. Yardape Posted: July 30, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4760501)
But he's definitely got the "fame" part of the Hall of Fame down. (Yeah, I know that the purpose of the Hall of Fame is to confer fame, not to recognize it.)


I thought this about Curt Schilling. Comparing pitchers to position players is a bit tricky, but Schilling has a better statistical case than Ortiz and a lot of the same extra-credits (WS MVP, bloody sock game, good quote for the media). And yet he debuted at less than 40%. Anything is possible with the BBWAA, but I can't see why they would treat Ortiz so much better than Schilling. Either or both may get in eventually, but I doubt Ortiz just sails in.
   58. Wahoo Sam Posted: July 31, 2014 at 04:10 AM (#4761104)
So, "clutchiness" and WS performance counts for Big Papi, but not for Jack Morris?

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