David Ortiz likes how this Edgar Martinez voting is going

Rob Bradford
January 03, 2019 - 9:20 am

David Ortiz is keeping a close eye on the Hall of Fame votes.

Ortiz's first go-round on the ballot is still three years away, but that doesn't mean this batch of candidates won't impact the former Red Sox' star's candidacy when it comes to Cooperstown. And there is one name, in particular, who should truly pique the interest of Ortiz: Edgar Martinez.

"Without a doubt," Ortiz told WEEI.com when asked if he believed Martinez would be inducted into the Hall of Fame this time around. "I think so."

Does Ortiz believe that will help his own Hall of Fame case?

"Yeah," he responded.

It's hard to argue.

Martinez is certainly trending toward getting in this time around, having gotten checks on 90.5 percent of the ballots submitted, with 35.7 percent of the eligible voters accounted for. Get 75 percent of the votes and you're in. (The Hall of Fame results are routinely compiled by always-excellent Ryan Thibodaux, also known by his Twitter handle, @NotMrTibbs.)

The increasing acceptance of Martinez and his existence as a full-time designated hitter has become notable throughout the past few years, as Thibodaux points out:

It also didn't hurt that Harold Baines, a player who spent more time at designated hitter than any other position, was just elected into the Veterans Committee. This was a guy who never cracked 6.1 percent of the vote and was taken off the ballot after five tries after landing with just 4.8 percent. There was also Frank Thomas' induction in 2014, representing another player who manned DH more than any other spot.

But it is this Martinez' acceptance that promises to truly define how voters view players who are identified as designated hitters. And, according to Ortiz, that's just part of the evolution that he sees when it comes to viewing guys like the former Mariners slugger.

"There are a lot of behind the scenes things you have to do to be that good," Ortiz said. "He wasn’t just good, but he helped. Team wins? He helped. Teammates around him? He helped. I guarantee you go around and ask about Edgar Martinez to guys he played with and I they will say he made them better. That’s the type of things a guy like J.D. Martinez brings to the table. This is a team situation. It’s not just you. In baseball, the connectivity is what works. The good chemistry. You can be as good as you want to be, but if you don’t have a group of guys around you that you can count on to execute, you aren’t going to win championships.

"This guy did everything a player can do to get better, to help. To me, that’s the way people need to start judging things. I think this new generation of voters is to going to focus on that. The game is hard to play. To be that good at this level, it takes a lot."

There are still no guarantees Ortiz will get in on his first try. Some voters may still hold his appearance on Major League Baseball's 2003 anonymous drug testing survey, even with the MLB commissioner Rob Manfred coming out and suggesting the slugger might have been a victim of a false positive. But even that sort of stigma seems to be changing in the eyes of voters, with many believing Alex Rodriguez and/or Roger Clemens will be getting the nod in the next few years. (They are both just over 74 percent in the most recent tally.)

But when it comes to that designated hitter roadblock so many identified as a huge obstacle for Ortiz, that is morphing into an archaic argument thanks in large part to Martinez. And don't think the former Sox slugger hasn't taken notice.

"I think you’re talking about one of the best hitters to ever play the game," said Ortiz when asked about Martinez at his annual charity golf tournament benefitting the David Ortiz Children's Foundation. "But there is no appreciation. Anyone who knows Edgar Martinez they know the guy was a master when he came out to hit. The numbers speak for themselves. He's without a doubt a Hall of Famer."

Related: Tomase: Red Sox should let Chris Sale walk

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