Before the season even starts, I can make a guarantee that I’m sure won’t come back to make me look like an idiot (there’s plenty of other stuff for that): that guarantee is that David Ortiz will not win the AL MVP this season. I say that not for any other reason but the dogmatic insistence of the writers who refuse to vote for a player that is predominately a DH. I don’t expect to be able to change any of their minds with my musings on the subject, but ones with open minds and not a deep rooted arrogance to go along with their dogma might be willing to take a second look at their decision not to vote for a deserving player based on such a flimsy argument.
Mike Piazza said years ago that he thinks any player even considered for an MVP award at the end of a long season should legitimately be considered an MVP. It is with this in mind that when I made my pre-season award selections I chose who I think is going to win (in the case of the American League this season, it’s Alex Rodriguez), I also chose five possible contenders for the award. In the American League, I selected as contenders: Miguel Tejada, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Paul Konerko and Gary Sheffield. Both Sheffield and Ortiz promise to be mostly DHs this season which almost eliminates their candidacy entirely. What the writers who vote should do is look at the decision to DH in an entirely new light.
What would happen if David Ortiz decided one winter that he was tired of being repeatedly overlooked because he never played the field, went to the Red Sox and said, "I want to play first base at least 110 games this season,"—–would the Red Sox have a choice? First of all, Ortiz would never do something like that because he wouldn’t subject the team to: A) a selfish whim; and B) the lack of range he has at the position. It is because of this that Ortiz should be seen, instead of a one-dimensional statue who DHs because he can’t play the field, as a team player who is putting his own interests aside in the pursuit of team accomplishments.
Players who are known as selfish such as Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent would never put their team first if it meant depriving themselves of a series of post-season awards and a possible plaque in the Hall of Fame. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that if Ortiz has three or four more seasons like the ones he’s had in the past three, he could find himself as a legitimate Hall of Fame possibility. His being a DH could even hinder that. To me that is the ultimate team player; one who is putting what is best for his team above his own selfish accomplishments. That’s why Ortiz is one of the most respected players throughout baseball—-because he’s a stand-up guy from whom teammates and opponents know what to expect.
It is a travesty that a purely one-dimensional player like Reggie Jackson, who was a total liability in the outfield and struck out more than any other player in history is in the Hall of Fame when someone like David Ortiz won’t even warrant consideration because he didn’t stand around first base as a liabilty rather than let someone else play the position. This is not to say that Reggie’s accomplishments, his home run power, clutch hitting prowess and pure recognizability don’t belong in the Hall of Fame; but it’s absurd to punish someone like David Ortiz because he’s doing what is best for his team rather than what is best for himself.
Check out my book for more predictions and analysis:
The Prince Of New York’s 2007 Baseball Preview