It’s time to stop taking David Ortiz for granted. The Red Sox slugger last night surpassed Harold Baines for the most hits ever by a designated hitter at 1,689 with a second-inning double against the Seattle Mariners. He also owns the most homers as a DH, and added to that mark with a two-run shot in the third inning. “I think before it’s all said and done, he’s going to be the standard by which all other DHs are compared, and rightfully so,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game. The argument about the best designated hitter in history was laid to rest a while ago, no disrespect to Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas. It’s Ortiz, by more than a little. And that brings us to this little exercise: Where exactly does Ortiz rank in Red Sox history? Is he top 20? Top 10? Start parsing the names, and suddenly it hits you. He’s top five. First is Ted Williams, end of discussion. Williams might be the greatest pure hitter who ever lived, with numbers only matched by Barry and the Babe. No. 2 is a pitcher. Some will argue Roger Clemens. The Rocket won three Cy Youngs here and remains the franchise’s winningest pitcher. He’s certainly a worthy choice. Personally, I’d put Clemens No. 3, one spot behind the incomparable Pedro Martinez. Clemens might have done it longer, but at his absolute pinnacle, no one was better than Martinez, ever. Not Koufax, not Cy Young, not Greg Maddux, not anybody. Here’s where things get interesting. The knee-jerk No. 4 on most lists would be Carl Yastrzemski, and that’s only if you don’t have him No. 2. The Captain ranks at or near the top of virtually every franchise leaderboard, from hits to homers to runs to RBI. But give me the star that burned brightest ahead of the one that burned longest. Yaz built his numbers on longevity — amazing longevity, but longevity nonetheless. As good as he was in 1967, when he won the MVP and triple crown, it’s impossible to find an 11-year stretch of his career that matches what Ortiz has provided since arriving in 2003. Heck, cherry pick Yaz’ 11 best overall seasons, and they won’t match Ortiz’ offensive production from 2003 through last night (.292, 361 homers, 1,150 RBI, .965 OBP). Yaz’ seven Gold Gloves obviously count for something, but outside of 1967, he never was feared as a hitter quite like Ortiz.
Ortiz sets mark for hits by DH, Sox beat M's 11-4
Boston Herald | Jul 11