Former Twin David Ortiz elected to Hall of Fame; Torii Hunter remains on ballot
Ortiz finished his career as a .286 hitter with a career .931 OPS and 541 home runs. He won three World Series rings with the Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013), and was named the World Series Most Valuable Player in 2013
When Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this July, they’ll do so alongside another former Twin, albeit one who didn’t reach his full potential until after he left Minnesota.
Red Sox great David Ortiz was voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, the only person to be voted in this year by Baseball Writers’ Association of America members. Ortiz received a vote on 77.9 percent of ballots, and will be inducted in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 24 with six others — Kaat and Oliva included — that were elected via the Golden Days and Early Days committees.
Ortiz, who originally signed with the Seattle Mariners as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic, was traded to the Twins in 1996 as a player to be named later in a deal that sent Dave Hollins to Seattle earlier that year.
He debuted the next season. In parts of six seasons with the Twins, the slugger hit .266 with an .809 OPS. He hit 58 home runs during his tenure, including 20 in 2002, but was released after that season, a move former general manager Terry Ryan has publicly called a mistake on his behalf multiple times.
Ortiz, on a video call Tuesday, said the Twins let him go “based on his salary,” not a lack of talent, something which he said people “get all twisted.”
“My last year in Minnesota, I hit 20 homers without even playing. I got 75 RBIs. I kept on telling people, ‘What did you think was going to happen once somebody just let me go out there and hit?’ ‘Go ahead, kid. Play. Show me what you’ve got,’” Ortiz said on MLB Network. “I had a lack of opportunity when I was in Minnesota for so many reasons. I’m always going to thank the Minnesota Twins, because the one thing that I learned in that organization was that opportunity is not out there every day. Once you get it, hold on to it, because once you get go, it’ll probably never come back to you.”
During his time in Minnesota, Ortiz befriended Twins legend and hall of famer Kirby Puckett, who he said was “the guy who basically inspired me in so many ways,” while with the Twins.
“Kirby was a friend. He was a father. He was a brother,” Ortiz said. “As a matter of fact, he’s the one reason why, once I got to Boston, I started wearing No. 34.”
In Boston, he became a star, making 10 all-star games, winning seven Silver Slugger Awards and finishing top-10 in Most Valuable Player voting seven separate times. He finished as high as second in MVP voting in 2005, a year in which he hit 47 home runs and drove in a league-leading 148 runs. The very next year, he hit a career-high 54 home runs.
Ortiz finished his career as a .286 hitter with a career .931 OPS and 541 home runs. He won three World Series rings with the Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013), and was named the World Series Most Valuable Player in 2013.
Ortiz won’t be joined by any players from his generation this time around.
In their last year of eligibility, both Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens fell short of the necessary 75 percent. Alex Rodriguez, a part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, finished with 34.3 percent in his first year on the ballot.
Torii Hunter, in his second year on the ballot, received 5.3 percent of the vote and will remain on the ballot next year. That number is down from the 9.5 percent he received last year.
Former Twins Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau, in their first year, received 4.3 and 1.3 percent, respectively. A.J. Pierzynski received 0.5 percent. All three will fall off the ballot after not receiving the requisite 5 percent to remain on.