On Tuesday, January 25th it was announced David Ortiz had been elected to The National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Ortiz was elected after receiving 77.9% of votes in his first year on the ballot.
As someone who doesn’t typically give much thought to the Hall of Fame, it was very hard to ignore the announcement last week as it sent shockwaves through Twitter and the rest of the internet. David Ortiz is likely a deserving candidate for Cooperstown based on his accolades and certainly had a very impressive career after being released by the Minnesota Twins in December of 2002. Spending the majority of his time in the Major Leagues as a designated hitter, Ortiz retired following the 2016 season with 541 homeruns and as a 40% better than league average hitter throughout his career.
Much of the frustration following the announcement was a result of several notable candidates who didn’t receive the required 75% of the votes. Included among these candidates was the greatest hitter in baseball history, Barry Bonds. Bonds fell short in his 10th and final year on the ballot and will no longer be eligible for nomination by the writers’ association.
Many have often cited Bonds connection to performance-enhancing drugs as the reason he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. This, however, now seems like a very weak argument given that Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
Bonds started his Major League Career in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a centerfielder but quickly moved to left-field where he would spend the majority of his career. Bonds is obviously most known for his bat, however, as he is the most feared hitter in Major League History and his intentional walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth on May 28th, 1998 will forever live in baseball legend.
While the numbers might not even do him justice for how great he was, he finished his 22-year career in 2007 as Major League Baseball’s all-time homerun leader and as close to an 80% better than league average hitter for his career.
Bonds was able to put up most of these completely mind-boggling numbers during the ‘steroid’ era of Major League Baseball where much of the competition was also likely using something.
Putting David Ortiz in before Bonds is a clear sign the museum, which according to its website exists to “preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball”, has turned into a glorified popularity contest.
While Bonds will no longer be able to be voted in by the BBWAA, there is still a chance he can get in via the Today’s Era Committee. The 16-member committee most recently voted Harold Baines and Lee Smith into the Hall of Fame in 2019.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs