Designated Hitters Are People Too

Listen, the designated hitter position in baseball is just as important as any other position on a roster. The position was adopted in the American League in 1973 after many years of debate on whether to allow a position player to hit for the pitcher in the batting lineup. The DH role in baseball has molded the careers of many great hitters such as “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, Travis Hafner, Paul Moliter, and Harold Baines.

Of the “elite” players in the DH role we have Boston’s own David Ortiz, one of the most clutch hitters in baseball history. He is one of, if not the best, hitters to play the game. But what if I told you that even though Ortiz was a clutch hitter, he wasn’t the best DH. Why would I tell you that you may ask? Because Edgar Martinez is the best DH to play the game. This guy’s call to the Hall is very much overdue.

Martinez vs. Ortiz

Martinez’s stats set the bar for current and future designated hitters in Major League Baseball. Yet due to the power and home run totals we see out of designated hitters today he’s behind the mark. Writers often talk about how Ortiz has a better Hall of Fame case than Martinez. This is due to how “clutch” Ortiz was in certain situations with his immaculate home runs and playoff accolades. Martinez doesn’t possess kudos like that, and it’s not really his fault. I think it’s flat-out ridiculous, unless I missed the memo on the league changing the position name from “designated hitter” to “designated home run guy”.

The game of the position originally was to hit the ball and get on base. If you knock one out well then good for you. Edgar Martinez identified what it takes to be a successful DH in the MLB. He hit a lifetime average of .312 (not to shabby) with a OBP of .418 and a WAR of 68.3. Yes, you can argue Ortiz had a higher RBI, home run and slugging percentage total. But Ortiz also played two more seasons and had more at bats than Martinez, so there really isn’t an argument other than playoff accolades. Martinez was surprisingly five percent short of the votes to get in the Hall of Fame this year, only receiving 287 votes out of 422.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Big Papi with all my heart and soul. I’m not debunking his case for the Hall. He’s the greatest clutch hitter in baseball history and produced when it mattered most. But if you ask me who the greatest designated hitter in baseball history is, one hundred percent of the time I will say Edgar Martinez. Get this guy in the Hall already. Not just for his success as an individual in baseball, but for molding and being a pioneer for the designated hitter role in Major League Baseball.

Side Note: Edgar Martinez had 49 stolen bases during his tenure in the league. Ortiz had 17.