David Ortiz claims all-time hits record for designated hitters

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David Ortiz is now the all-time leader in hits at the designated hitter position. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

David Ortiz is now the all-time leader in hits at the designated hitter position. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

On Wednesday night, David Ortiz smashed a double to left-center field in the second inning against the Mariners in Seattle. The hit was Ortiz's seventh in three games, and it led to Boston's first run in a rout. In the grander scheme, it was the 37-year-old Red Sox slugger's 1,689th hit as a designated hitter, enabling him to surpass Harold Baines as the all-time leader among DHs. Ortiz later added a homer and a sacrifice fly.

Here's the MLB.com video of Ortiz's hit, which came at the expense of Aaron Harang. After its significance was relayed, the Safeco Field crowd responded with a standing ovation:

[mlbvideo id="28788941" width="600" height="360" /]

Seattle fans are no strangers to quality designated hitters; while it's Baines whom Ortiz surpassed on the hit list, it's longtime Mariner Edgar Martinez who stands as the only other DH with a legitimate case as the position's all-time best. Here's the top 10 ranked by hit totals as DHs, not including Wednesday's game, with data via STATS LLC, whose totals for this category differ slightly from those found on Baseball-Reference.com, thus leading to a crisis of faith similar to the one lampooned here:

Rk

Player

Years

PA

H

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

1t

Harold Baines

1980-2001

6619

1688

235

.291

.370

.466

1t

David Ortiz

1997-2013

6826

1688

369

.289

.385

.559

3

Edgar Martinez

1987-2004

6218

1607

243

.314

.428

.532

4

Hal McRae

1974-1987

5778

1526

143

.295

.358

.465

5

Paul Molitor

1978-1998

5334

1456

102

.308

.374

.454

6

Frank Thomas

1990-2008

5698

1288

269

.275

.394

.505

7

Don Baylor

1974-1988

5385

1210

219

.259

.344

.449

8

Chili Davis

1988-1999

4903

1175

200

.282

.381

.482

9

Travis Hafner

2002-2013

4415

1035

200

.277

.380

.507

10

Jose Canseco

1986-2001

3730

853

208

.265

.355

.510

Ortiz, who has about 10 percent more plate appearances in that role, has the advantage in counting stats, including a 1,206-1,003 lead in RBI, but Martinez carries a 25-point edge in batting average, a 43-point advantage in on-base percentage, and a 16-point advantage in OPS (960-944). Adjusting for Ortiz's time in hitter-friendly Fenway Park, Martinez's time in the Kingdome and Safeco, and the two players' time spent at other positions (Ortiz was a first baseman, Martinez a third baseman), Martinez accumulated 68.3 career Wins Above Replacement, while Ortiz has just 42.4 WAR thus far.

Using my JAWS system, I've argued that Martinez, who has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for four years but never received more than 36.5 percent, is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. He finished his career with 2,247 hits, 309 homers, and a .312/.418/.515 line, with two batting titles and seven All-Star appearances to boot. Molitor, a member of the 3,000 hit club, is the only player who spent a plurality of his major-league career at DH in the Hall of Fame, though Thomas, who spent the majority of his career as DH and who will be on the ballot this winter, is likely to change that given his two MVP awards and 521 career home runs.

I've been asked several times if I think Ortiz is similarly worthy, but based upon WAR and JAWS, the answer thus far is no. Martinez has about a 26-win advantage for his career, and an 11.5-win gap for his JAWS peak score (best seven seasons), 43.5 to 32.0. Prior to Wednesday's game, Ortiz had career totals of 1,905 hits, 419 homers, and a .287/.381/.550 line, with one home run title and eight All-Star appearances. Ortiz does make up some ground given a body of postseason work that includes a prominent role in Boston's 2004 and 2007 world championships, but he also has been connected to performance-enhancing drugs via a leaked report that he tested positive during the supposedly anonymous 2003 survey test. Ortiz denied using PEDs, claiming that the positive came from over-the-counter supplements and vitamins.