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  • Former Twins Cooperstown Case: David Ortiz


    Cody Christie

    Multiple former Twins are making their inaugural appearance on the 2022 Hall of Fame ballot. In Twins Territory, David Ortiz lives in infamy, and he has a polarizing Cooperstown case.

    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Seattle Mariners originally signed David Ortiz in 1992, so the Twins weren't the only team to let him go before he reached his full potential. He played three seasons in the Mariners system, and he hit 18 home runs in the Midwest League as a 20-year-old. That's where his Twins' journey began. 

    In the 1996 offseason, Minnesota liked what they saw in Ortiz, and he was dealt from Seattle as the player to be named later in a trade for Dave Hollins. He flew through Minnesota's three highest minor league levels during the following season, and he even made his debut by the season's end. In 140 minor league games, he cracked 31 home runs, drove in 124, and posted a .940 OPS. He was only 21-years-old, and it looked like he might be one of the players to help turn around Minnesota's losing ways.

    He played part of six seasons in Minnesota while hitting .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 58 home runs in 455 games. He wasn't exactly on a course for Cooperstown. Minnesota non-tendered him following the 2002 season because he was set to make close to $2 million in arbitration, Matt LeCroy could fill the DH role, and they needed a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. 

    When David Ortiz played his final series in Minnesota, Twins GM Terry Ryan didn't beat around the bush regarding the Ortiz decision. "Obviously, it's a situation that I watch, and I've observed, and I see what he's done, and I see what he's meant to the Boston Red Sox. Ok, I screwed it up." That's easy for Ryan to say at this point, but it wasn't as big of a mistake as it has been made out to be.

    It's not as if Boston was beating down the door to sign Ortiz as he was inked for $1.25 million, which was almost half of what he would have made in arbitration. The Red Sox took a flyer on him, and that forever changed their franchise. He finished in the top-10 of the American League Most Valuable Player voting seven times. He was a 10-time All-Star selection and seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner. 

    In October, Ortiz really left his mark as he appeared in 18 Postseason series over nine seasons with the Twins and Red Sox. In 85 games, he hit .289/.404/.543 (.947) with 41 extra-base hits and 61 RBI. He was a three-time World Series Champion, and he was named MVP of the 2004 ALCS and the 2013 World Series. 

    Even with all of his on-field accomplishments, Ortiz isn't a lock for Cooperstown because of the looming steroid cloud. Back in 2003, 100 players failed a supposedly anonymous steroid survey test. Six years later, The New York Times reported that he was one of the players that failed the survey test. Other players tied to steroids have struggled to reach the 75% threshold needed for election, and Ortiz will add another intriguing debate. 

    However, commissioner Rob Manfred has talked differently about Ortiz than other players that failed the survey test. When Ortiz was retiring, Manfred told Boston reporters, "There were double digits of names — so, more than 10 — on that list where we (the MLB Players Association and the league office) knew that there were legitimate scientific questions about whether or not those were truly positives…. Back then, it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal — available over the counter and not banned under our program — and certain banned substances." While not fully exonerating him, it is certainly something for the voters to consider. 

    In the end, Ortiz had a long career with lots of memorable postseason moments. Will that be enough to push him to enshrinement? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    This topic has been previously covered. I don't think it's nearly as polarizing as you do. The case for Ortiz and steroids is one of the weakest out there and only the most hard core anti-steroid writers will consider it IMHO. Nothing from Canseco's book. No positive tests from 2003-2016. No known BALCO scandal ties. No known Biogenesis scandal ties. Ortiz played 85% of his career and his entire Red Sox career after testing and penalties were implemented.

    Ortiz will be in the Hall of Fame. He won't be a first ballot guy, I don't think because his overall WAR numbers aren't good enough for that, but he was one of the most prolific hitters in baseball after the year 2000. Ortiz has compiled more than 50 fWAR and 55 bWAR in his career. For a full time career DH (Ortiz completed only 166 of 2,408 games in his career at 1B)? That's a very rare bird.

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    I do not find guys like Ortiz question of steroids to be a huge issue.  Ortiz is a huge man, so the power he produces is not surprising.  It is not like he was a singles hitter his whole career for years to then break out hitting tons of HR.  I think he will make the hall but will be a late ballot kind of guy. 

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    FWIW, Barry Bonds was never found guilty of taking steroids and his conviction for obstruction of justice was overturned 10-1 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

    Bonds was easily the best hitter in baseball, pre-steroids era. If any members who were ever whispered to have used steroids get into the HoF, Bonds needs to go in first. There cannot be exemptions or ... "But, he was a good guy" stuff.

    I'm not invested either way - let them all in or keep everyone out - I don't care. The hypocrisy is tough though. We don't like Barry, Alex is ok, Ortiz was a fabulous post season player- great personality, Manny was a jerk, etc. These judgments are just personal nonsense and hyperbole. All or none is simple. 

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    I am a firm "NO" on Ortiz because of the steroid issue.  He used the stuff, plain and simple.  So I'm against anybody with that taint getting in.  That said, I realize I'm a minority opinion.  My son is of the exact opposite opinion and we have good back and forth conversations about it.  I figure guys like me will eventually be drowned out by the prevailing opinion.  When that happens, I agree with with tony&rodney...the first guy that has to go in is Barry Bonds.  What he did (while cheating in my opinion) is "RUTHIAN."  In fact, it should really be called "BONDSIAN."  Nobody did what Barry Bonds did, so he has to be first in line.  Then stinkin' A-Rod, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Palmiero, Ortiz,  and all the rest of the cheaters can see the gates of heaven opened to them.  But Bonds goes in first.  Have the Twins signed a PITCHER YET  ?!?!?!?

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    Heck, just popped over to Rotoworld and lo and behold the White Sox have signed Kendall Graveman for 3-years $24 million total.  I guess with Liam Hendricks they needed a closer more than we did.  It was also noted that the Mets "have eyes" for Taylor Rogers.  Finally, there was NO mention of anyone the Twins were interested in because according to our Front Office:  "We're still getting our plan and priorities in order."  I suppose we can check back with the Twins FO in a couple of months.  Maybe closer to spring training or possibly when they are ABSOLUETLY sure there is indeed a collective bargaining agreement.  

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    1 hour ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    I am a firm "NO" on Ortiz because of the steroid issue.  He used the stuff, plain and simple.  So I'm against anybody with that taint getting in...

    Ortiz hasn't talked about it much at all. He said he believes he may have tested postitive due to an over the counter supplement. The chemist who created the THG (The Clear) is on record saying it's feasible an over the counter supplement could have triggered a positive. In addition, the Mitchell Report also may have contained names of players who may have tested inconclusive. Ortiz didn't show any changes to his body type or decline in production with the implementation of testing.

    So you don't know for sure he tested positive or what substance it may have been that caused the inconclusive or positive result. Aside from that, Ortiz played his entire meaningful career in Boston and never tested positive there.

    You have a very strong opinion despite having almost no information to back it up.

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    45 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    Ortiz hasn't talked about it much at all. He said he believes he may have tested postitive due to an over the counter supplement. The chemist who created the THG (The Clear) is on record saying it's feasible an over the counter supplement could have triggered a positive. In addition, the Mitchell Report also may have contained names of players who may have tested inconclusive. Ortiz didn't show any changes to his body type or decline in production with the implementation of testing.

    So you don't know for sure he tested positive or what substance it may have been that caused the inconclusive or positive result. Aside from that, Ortiz played his entire meaningful career in Boston and never tested positive there.

    You have a very strong opinion despite having almost no information to back it up.

    Satire again, right?

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    Between steroids, greenies, spit balls, scuffing the ball, corked bats, etc....they are all forms of "cheating".  There are a plenty of players in the Hall for all of those but steroids.  I think the steroids crew absolutely deserves to be in the Hall....unless we are going to kick out all the HOF'ers who did other forms of "cheating"

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    5 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

    Satire again, right?

    Patrick Arnold (creator of "The Clear THG) "...Yes, people back then did test positive because of supplements, and occasionally it was for nandrolone, which I think (Ortiz) is alluding to, but not verbatim," Arnold told the Daily News yesterday. "If he could say it was nandrolone, I'd say, 'OK, you may have a case.'...

    https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/balco-chemist-david-ortiz-supplement-tale-feasible-article-1.395677

    Ortiz does not appear in the Mitchell Report.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_players_named_in_the_Mitchell_Report

    Anonomous drug testing in 2003 contained inconclusives, not just positives.

    "Ortiz claims he did not know his result came back positive.  As one of the 13 or more inconclusive results, that makes sense because Ortiz’ name does not appear in The Mitchell Report.  As Schmidt wrote yesterday, “All players who tested positive in 2003 were told that their tests had been seized by the government, according to the report presented to Major League Baseball by George J. Mitchell ….”  The report never cites Sosa, Ramirez, or Ortiz “ maybe because they didn’t test positive.  At any rate, that’s as plausible as Schmidt’s vague sources."

    https://cantstopthebleeding.com/no-smearing-in-the-press-box-iii-big-papi-vindicates-cstb-blowhard-michael-s-schmidt-commences-damage-control

    Just because you don't like facts or something doesn't align with your opinion does not make it satire.

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    Just create the Steroid wall to acknowledge what went on and then put all the tainted but really good players in and save us these questionable judgments and discussions.  And I say this as someone who truly hated the impact of steroids.  I am no longer impressed by the numbers and when I was an Aaron, Mathews, and Spahn fan I was checking their location on the all time list every year.  Now we have gone bomba and strikeout crazy and steroids were like a big helium balloon that rose and burst.  

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    126        340    75   94      192      14       0       28       66      132       43       54      5         0      .276      480     .565      1.045        1.06

     

    Anyone interested in this player on a minimum pay contract? Released and passed over by every team.

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    2 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

     

    126        340    75   94      192      14       0       28       66      132       43       54      5         0      .276      480     .565      1.045        1.06

     

    Anyone interested in this player on a minimum pay contract? Released and passed over by every team.

    Is that Bondzo's final season line?

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    13 minutes ago, AceWrigley said:

    Is that Bondzo's final season line?

    It is.

    I never liked Barry Bonds because of how angry and petulant he came across as a person. My dislike wasn't active just one of preferring a pleasant source of entertainment to a person who carried anger. So it wasn't really a dislike. However, I did think he could play baseball at a level rarely if ever seen. As time went on it became obvious that the relationship between Bonds and other people was often difficult, but it was also obvious that he had no tolerance for racism and unfounded criticism. He, right or wrong, felt people failed to give him the respect he thought he had earned through his play.

    I had the opportunity to see a closed session of batting practice in Spring Training 20 years a go. The display of skill when Bonds went to work was unbelievable: from the half dozen plus bunts to the ground balls to the line drives to the screaming drives off the fences to the lat dozen balls hit 400+ feet to all fields. Everything was crushed in a precise manner of direction with purpose according to a plan. When Bonds walked to the plate on that day every player and coach stopped what they were doing and watched. He wasn't well received by his peers or coaches. Bonds was a complicated individual with a host of ghosts in his life. I don't know him but the vitriol spilled on this guy by the unknowing public was as historic as his numbers. Why do people hate someone so intensely? Why do people separate Bonds from the others of his era for venomous denigration? Bonds was among the best players in the game when he last suited up and was sent off into retirement. I would say he has paid his bill, if there was one, more than any of the other figures of the steroid era. I liked Ortiz and Manny but they don't deserve a seat before Barry Bonds. I do think the time has passed for all.

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    On 11/23/2021 at 12:47 PM, bean5302 said:

    This topic has been previously covered. I don't think it's nearly as polarizing as you do. The case for Ortiz and steroids is one of the weakest out there and only the most hard core anti-steroid writers will consider it IMHO. Nothing from Canseco's book. No positive tests from 2003-2016. No known BALCO scandal ties. No known Biogenesis scandal ties. Ortiz played 85% of his career and his entire Red Sox career after testing and penalties were implemented.

    Ortiz will be in the Hall of Fame. He won't be a first ballot guy, I don't think because his overall WAR numbers aren't good enough for that, but he was one of the most prolific hitters in baseball after the year 2000. Ortiz has compiled more than 50 fWAR and 55 bWAR in his career. For a full time career DH (Ortiz completed only 166 of 2,408 games in his career at 1B)? That's a very rare bird.

    Isn't the case for PED's and Big Papi the same as it is for Sammy Sosa and PED's? Same NY Times article reporting the anonymous test. What I don't understand is voting for Ortiz but not voting for Sosa. It's not the corked bat thing. It's because one is likable and one isn't.  "Likeability" should not put you in or out of the HOF, IMO. Maybe Ortiz doesn't get in but the consensus seems to be that he will waltz right in first or second ballot. 

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    1 hour ago, tony&rodney said:

    It is.

    I never liked Barry Bonds because of how angry and petulant he came across as a person. My dislike wasn't active just one of preferring a pleasant source of entertainment to a person who carried anger. So it wasn't really a dislike. However, I did think he could play baseball at a level rarely if ever seen. As time went on it became obvious that the relationship between Bonds and other people was often difficult, but it was also obvious that he had no tolerance for racism and unfounded criticism. He, right or wrong, felt people failed to give him the respect he thought he had earned through his play.

    I had the opportunity to see a closed session of batting practice in Spring Training 20 years a go. The display of skill when Bonds went to work was unbelievable: from the half dozen plus bunts to the ground balls to the line drives to the screaming drives off the fences to the lat dozen balls hit 400+ feet to all fields. Everything was crushed in a precise manner of direction with purpose according to a plan. When Bonds walked to the plate on that day every player and coach stopped what they were doing and watched. He wasn't well received by his peers or coaches. Bonds was a complicated individual with a host of ghosts in his life. I don't know him but the vitriol spilled on this guy by the unknowing public was as historic as his numbers. Why do people hate someone so intensely? Why do people separate Bonds from the others of his era for venomous denigration? Bonds was among the best players in the game when he last suited up and was sent off into retirement. I would say he has paid his bill, if there was one, more than any of the other figures of the steroid era. I liked Ortiz and Manny but they don't deserve a seat before Barry Bonds. I do think the time has passed for all.

    The fact that the MLB commissioner who purposely turned a blind eye to blatant PED use in MLB is in the HOF means the deserving players should probably not be penalized any more. At least, the players who didn't break MLB substance rules or fail a test for a substance they knew was banned. 

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    I think they should all get in, the steroid tainted stars. Bonds, A-Roid, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Palmiero, and Ortiz (did I leave someone out?) There should just be a special room, or branch in the HOF........ the HOS or the HOSF - the Hall Of Shame or the Hall Of Shame Fame. Most would have gotten in without it, and it was their own vanity and morality and greed that took them to the chosen behaviors, because they were addicted to the admiration and fame and all. The "everybody else was doing it" or "management and the commissioner looked the other way" excuse doesn't make it OK, just as it doesn't for most families' children. But they are part of baseball, and they were among the  greatest that ever played. HOS is for them to be showcased for the truth and performance.

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    1 hour ago, dex8425 said:

    Isn't the case for PED's and Big Papi the same as it is for Sammy Sosa and PED's? Same NY Times article reporting the anonymous test. What I don't understand is voting for Ortiz but not voting for Sosa. It's not the corked bat thing. It's because one is likable and one isn't.  "Likeability" should not put you in or out of the HOF, IMO. Maybe Ortiz doesn't get in but the consensus seems to be that he will waltz right in first or second ballot. 

    The Hall of Fame is a private club, its leaders make the voting rules, and they say a voter must consider the candidate’s character. While it is not the same as likeability, it is kind of similar, so as long as that is part of the voting rules, it remains a valid reason. Bonds (61.8% on the ninth ballot), Sosa (17%), Clemens (61.6%) - as well as Curt Schilling, who is not on the steroid list and got 71.1% - are all on their last "Baseball Writer's" ballot in 2022. We will see if the passing years mean that they got less guilty, I guess.

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    58 minutes ago, h2oface said:

    The Hall of Fame is a private club, its leaders make the voting rules, and they say a voter must consider the candidate’s character. While it is not the same as likeability, it is kind of similar, so as long as that is part of the voting rules, it remains a valid reason. Bonds (61.8% on the ninth ballot), Sosa (17%), Clemens (61.6%) - as well as Curt Schilling, who is not on the steroid list and got 71.1% - are all on their last "Baseball Writer's" ballot in 2022. We will see if the passing years mean that they got less guilty, I guess.

    The ultimate spite would be to put them in after they die

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    4 hours ago, dex8425 said:

    Isn't the case for PED's and Big Papi the same as it is for Sammy Sosa and PED's? Same NY Times article reporting the anonymous test. What I don't understand is voting for Ortiz but not voting for Sosa. It's not the corked bat thing. It's because one is likable and one isn't.  "Likeability" should not put you in or out of the HOF, IMO. Maybe Ortiz doesn't get in but the consensus seems to be that he will waltz right in first or second ballot. 

    There are some key differences. Canseco named Sosa and Canseco's got some credibility. Sosa was also named in an affidavit by Jeffrey Novitzky, an IRS agent who led the BALCO investigation, though it seems it was only specific to amphetamines. Sosa also played virtually his entire career in the steroid era. 

    There's a lot more than a maybe/maybe not positive test for Sosa. That said, the outrage over steroid and PED use in 2009 was far greater than today. Do keep in mind, BALCO was literally 20 years ago.

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    6 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

    ...Why do people separate Bonds from the others of his era for venomous denigration?...

    Bonds is the figurehead for the steroid era. The proof that steroids create legendary career performance (even if it doesn't actually do anything remotely close to that). It's not fair Bonds has been so ostracized, but his extreme success actually works against him. Bonds was so good that people hated his success; they were jealous, and his surly public persona made it even worse. People actively wanted Bonds to fail. That's my opinion.

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    1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

    Bonds is the figurehead for the steroid era. The proof that steroids create legendary career performance (even if it doesn't actually do anything remotely close to that). It's not fair Bonds has been so ostracized, but his extreme success actually works against him. Bonds was so good that people hated his success; they were jealous, and his surly public persona made it even worse. People actively wanted Bonds to fail. That's my opinion.

    This theory has been advanced before but still seems odd. Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire are clearly the leaders of the steroid era by a large margin. They were ahead of their time with others players like Caminiti, Clemens, and Sosa. Bonds involvement came later. I guess we each have our theories of how some took more blame than others.

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    If Ortiz isn't in on the first ballot, I'm going on my usual rant about Baseball shooting itself in the foot with it's incessant message about favorite players not being all that hot.

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    This is kinda funny to include Ortiz in the "make a case" club for the Twins. Sure, he is an ex-Twin, and a tragic story for us, but anything he did while on the Twins is just a reason for him not getting in the HOF. Anything in his line as a plus for the HOF happened on the Red Sox.

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    I want to comment on a matter that has been alluded to in only one post so far but will certainly be part of the decision for many HOF voters. Some think that DH's do not belong in the HOF because they are not "complete" players. Keep in mind the four parts of baseball are pitching, batting, fielding, and baserunning. If the HOF is only for players who were elite complete players there would only be one member: Babe Ruth.

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