Sometimes, you have to say the obvious. Shortly after today's announcement that David Ortiz will retire after the 2016 season (actually it began with the announcement) the campaign to get Ortiz elected to the hall of fame began.
I hate this discussion; I hate that it's going to get louder in coming years, and that it's going to require me to write things that are easily construed as me dismissing David Ortiz or his accomplishments. David Ortiz is a fantastic baseball player, one who has spent 13 years starring for one of baseball's gilded franchises at the height of its glory. He has 500 home runs. He has many, many moments of iconic postseason accomplishment, something that, while easily overblown by voters, I do believe belongs in the equation.
So when I say all that and then just produce simple fact after simple fact pointing out that Edgar Martinez, who may very well fall off the ballot before Ortiz is almost certainly elected in his first year, was a vastly better baseball player than David Ortiz I don't want it to sound like I'm trying to take shots at Ortiz. Merely let Edgar's lapping of a worthy foe speak even more to his quality, rather than the inferiority of his contemporaries.
I'm annoyed that I feel compelled to write this, as I largely don't care about the hall of fame, and I find endless prattle about comparing ballplayers to be a spiral into HotTaketopia, which is a place I try to steer this site away from whenever possible. But this isn't about the hall of fame, and this isn't about David Ortiz. This is about Edgar Martinez, who is the greatest designated hitter who has ever lived, and who deserves to be acknowledged for that fact, particularly and especially before his Canadian Dollar equivalent gets to spend a season being showered with love and affection wherever he goes.
Edgar Vs. Ortiz
Career fWAR: Edgar - 65.5, Ortiz - 46.1
Career bWAR: Edgar - 68.3, Ortiz - 50.4
Career wRC+: Edgar - 147, Ortiz - 138
% of games at DH: Edgar - 70.3, Ortiz - 87.2
Times reaching base: Edgar - 3,530, Ortiz - 3,542
Career OBP: Edgar - .418, Ortiz - .378
Years with .400+ OPB: Edgar - 11, Ortiz - 3
Years with .450+ OBP: Edgar - 3, Ortiz - 0
Career postseason batting: Edgar - .266/.365/.508, Ortiz - .295/.409/.553
Batting titles: Edgar - 2, Ortiz - 0
Iconic moment: Edgar
Ability to function as a product pitch man: Edgar
Iconic memories of my formative years: Edgar - 100s, Ortiz - Not even once.
This got a little bit silly towards the end, I know. I'm in a bit of a rush, as the wind is howling and I could lose power at any moment. But the big ones are at the top. Edgar will be perpetually underrated due to the fact that A) he was a Mariner and B) even post-Moneyball the baseball establishment still values home runs way more than getting on base. Edgar was historically good at the latter, and could hit like crazy.
Most of the stats I've been using have counted for career numbers, but even if you break down their peaks, Edgar stands head and shoulders above Ortiz. Consider the chart (h/t Eric):
Edgar vs Ortiz, by best season as a hitter in descending order: pic.twitter.com/EpWhMrNeAY— Eric Blankenship (@FGChoo) November 17, 2015
David Ortiz is great, and probably deserves to be in the hall of fame. But if (and when) he is the first designated hitter to be elected it will quietly be yet another stinging black mark on the institution's legitimacy, and the body they trust to legitimize it.
Just vote for Edgar, you idiots.