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Primero Papi: David Ortiz and the DH

Posted by David Sabino  July 11, 2013 07:57 AM

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PapiSwing.jpgLeading off the second inning of last night’s game at Safeco Field in Seattle, David Ortiz laced a double to the left centerfield gap off of Mariners starter Aaron Harang to become the alltime leader in hits among designated hitters, breaking a tie with Harold Baines. That added to a long list of records Big Papi now holds among designated hitters, including at bats (5,835), home runs (370), RBI (1,209), total bases (3,266), slugging percentage (.560), runs (1,018), doubles (432), intentional walks (131), and strikeouts (1,215). In fact there are only two more significant aggregate categories that he ranks second in and one day will likely own as well: most games as a DH (his 1,564 is 79 behind Baines’ 1,643) and most times on base for a DH (trails Edgar Martinez 2,659 to 2,630).

The DH was adopted by the American League 40 years ago but over that time there have been just 24 men who’ve collected as many as 500 hits from the spot. Among them, just 10 men have managed at least half of their career major league hits from the DH spot. Of those, only Travis Hafner of the Indians and Yankees has been a DH for a higher percentage of his hits than Ortiz, who has a mere 263 hits as a first baseman or pinch hitter. Even Martinez, the man Ortiz has wrestled the title of “Greatest DH” away from, reached base safely via a hit 624 hits as a corner infielder (and 16 more as a pinch hitter).

Here are the players (including a smattering of Hall of Famers) who collected at least 500 hits at DH and the portion of their overall career total those hits account for.

PapiPrint.jpg

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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