This weekend Boston Designated Hitter David Ortiz hit his 494th home run, passing Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff on the all-time list. As a ballplayer Ortiz hardly deserves mention in the same sentence as Gehrig.
To out-homer the Iron Man it took Ortiz two more seasons and 65 more games. Gehrig has 448 more hits, has scored 565 more runs, drove in 385 more runs, hit 145 more triples, walked 283 more times, struck out a whopping 855 fewer times, had 700 more total bases, and stole 87 more bases. Ortiz may have more doubles, mostly due to the friendly confines of Fenway Park. Gehrig’s career batting average is 60 points higher, his On Base Percentage 69 points higher, his Slugging Percentage 87 points higher, and his OPS 157 points higher. of course, almost all modern day players fall short of Gehrig's marks.
Gehrig played first base every day, never missing a game. Traveled by rail. Hotels without air conditioning. All day games. Despite all the modern day luxuries, Ortiz rarely plays in the field.
In his day McGriff was one of the most feared sluggers in the game, particularly during his time in Toronto. Aside from his time in Atlanta, the Crime Dog played for teams out of contention – unlike Gehrig and Ortiz. McGriff’s stats equal or better those of Ortiz. McGriff was an everyday first-baseman, as opposed to a one-dimensional DH like Ortiz. Is one more deserving of the Hall of Fame? I would think so – McGriff.
Both Gehrig and Ortiz made famous on field speeches: Gehrig for his farewell, Ortiz in memory of the Boston bombing victims. While both speeches were moving, one was humble and classy, the other actually vulgar. Ortiz’s on field actions and comments to the media show his true side. He thinks he is bigger than the game, which he is clearly is not.
No DH has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame. Will an exception be made for Ortiz?