What are David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame chances?

I wrote about David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame credentials last spring, but the subject has come up again already, in the wake of his retirement announcement.

Rather than belabor all the same points I made just those few months ago, just a few bullet points to save you some time:

  • Ortiz did fail a drug test, so if you’re not going to vote for Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, it’s hard to justify a vote for Ortiz;
  • his postseason feats, while both memorable and impressive, might not be quite as memorable as you remember; and 
  • forget about his "position" if you like, but the home truth is that if you’re not playing defense, one way of winning games for your team simply isn’t available. This doesn’t mean a DH can’t be a Hall of Fame candidate, and in fact Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz are all fine Hall of Fame candidates. It just means the bar is higher, because all we’ve got is the hitting.

My conclusion last spring: "Leaving aside the sports drugs completely, and knowing just what I know now, I couldn’€™t support his candidacy without at least two more big regular seasons."

Well, he just had another big regular season. And there’s probably a better than 50/50 chance that he’s got yet another in him, even at 40.

So a year from now, I’ll probably support his candidacy. But I suspect the voters will give him a tough time. Not because he was a DH. But because he failed that drug test, just like so many of his colleagues.