David Ortiz is This Year’s Sole Inductee into Baseball Hall of Fame

David Ortiz is a lone wolf…

The 46-year-old Dominican-American former professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman who played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball, nicknamed “Big Papi,” is the sole player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, while others like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were shut out.

David OrtizOrtiz was the only player to clear the required 75% threshold, according to results of this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Ortiz finished with 77.9% in becoming the 58th player elected in his first year of eligibility. At 46, he will also be the youngest of the 75 living members of the Hall.

“I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot,” Ortiz said. “Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo. It’s something that is very special to me.”

Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader; 354-game winner Clemens; 600-homer-club member Sammy Sosa; and longtime ace pitcher Curt Schilling were in their 10th and final year of eligibility in the annual BBWAA balloting.

Bonds, Sosa and Clemens posted numbers that marked them as surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famers, but they became avatars for the era of performance-enhancing drugs. While Bonds and Clemens in particular have long denied using PEDs, accusations have dogged them in the media and in books, and have been the subject of court dramas and testimony in front of Congress. In the end, about a third of the voters decided the allegations were too egregious to overlook, enough to bar their entry to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, at least via the writers’ vote.

Ortiz is a different story, despite his own PED suspicions. A 2009 story in The New York Times reported that Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003. Those results were supposed to remain confidential, and the tests were done to see if the league had reached a threshold to conduct regular testing.

Ortiz has long denied that he used banned substances, and in 2016, commissioner Rob Manfred said the tests in question were inconclusive because “it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter and not banned under our program.”

Manfred added that during subsequent testing Ortiz “has never been a positive at any point under our program.”

When asked about those suspicions Tuesday, Ortiz said, “We had someone coming out with this one list, where you don’t know what anybody tested positive for. All of a sudden people are pointing fingers at me. But then we started being drug tested and I never tested positive. What does that tell you?”

As for the last-chance candidates, Sosa’s support never approached the threshold for election, but the cases of Bonds and Clemens were more divisive among the selectors. Both climbed over the 50% mark in 2017 only to see their support plateau in recent seasons. The tallies for their last go-arounds were 66% for Bonds and 65.2% for Clemens.

Among first-time eligibles on this year’s ballot were MLB All-Star infielder Alex Rodriguez, who finished with 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs, totals that both rank fourth all-time in their respective categories. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating baseball’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was the only other first-time eligible beyond Ortiz and Rodriguez to draw enough support to remain on the ballot.

Ortiz, widely known for his gregarious personality and endearing nickname, became the second career designated hitter to be selected via the writers’ balloting. Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez was the first when he was elected in 2019. A member of three World Series-winning teams in Boston, Ortiz hit 541 career home runs and added 17 more while putting together a celebrated postseason résumé.

 

“David Ortiz is the most important player to ever wear a Red Sox uniform,” Red Sox president & CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement put out by the team. “He came to Boston in relative anonymity and with his captivating personality and his formidable bat he shattered expectations and paved the franchise’s future in championships.”

Ortiz will become the second Hall of Famer from the 2004 Red Sox, who famously broke Boston’s 86-year championship drought by winning that season’s World Series, joining pitcher Pedro Martinez. He also cements his place in the pantheon of Boston sports stars like Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Bill Russell, something he said he never thought could happen.

“When I first got to Boston, I used to look up at those guys like, ‘Wow, I don’t think you can be part of that pack at all,'” Ortiz said. “You’re talking about real legendary, real OG. But they began their career just like I did. Not with the thought that they were going to end up where they are.”

Martinez was with Ortiz on Tuesday at a gathering in the Dominican Republic, where Ortiz received news of his election. Ortiz is the fourth Dominican-born player to be elected to the Hall, joining Martinez, Juan Marichal and Vladimir Guerrero.

“I can imagine how New England feels about one of its babies getting into the Hall of Fame today,” Ortiz said. “I don’t even have to tell you about the Dominican Republic. It’s a country that breathes baseball. And people are very excited right here. Everything is going crazy right now.”

Ortiz will enter the Hall during the July 24 induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. He will join six players selected by a pair of era committees last month: Brooklyn Dodgers great Gil Hodges, Twins slugger Tony Oliva, longtime White Sox star Minnie Minoso, pitcher Jim Kaat, Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler and Negro League legend and ambassador Buck O’Neil. All but Ortiz, Kaat and Olivo will be inducted posthumously.

In addition, late broadcaster Jack Graney will be honored as the Ford C. Frick award winner for excellence in broadcasting, while ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian will be recognized as this year’s winner of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

With Ortiz standing as the lone winner from this year’s BBWAA balloting, the writers have now elected just one player total over the past two cycles. The sudden drought comes on the heels of a fertile period for inductees, which saw the writers select 22 players during the period from 2014 to 2020.

Nelson Cruz Reportedly Agrees to One-Year, $13 Million Contract with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is twinning again…

The 40-year-old professional baseball player, a designated hitter and right fielder, and the Minnesota Twins are reportedly in agreement on a one-year, $13 million contract, according to ESPN.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz has been a linchpin of the Bomba Squad Twins‘ lineup. And he’ll be back right in the middle of it in 2021.

The slugger, who hit .303 with 16 home runs, 33 RBIs and a career-high OPS+ (169) in the pandemic-shortened season, finished sixth in the American League MVP voting and was selected as the Marvin Miller Man of Year in the annual Players Choice Awards.

The award goes to the player whom his peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” Cruz donated a fire engine and an ambulance and helped build a police station in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic, and his Boomstick 23 Foundation has contributed wheelchairs and crutches, and he set up a clinic to provide medical and dental care.

His mission to help his hometown and other towns in the Dominican Republic led to him receiving the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the 2020 ESPYS.

Cruz played last season on a $12 million deal after swatting a team-high 41 home runs while reaching 108 RBIs in 2019, despite two stints on the injured list for a wrist problem. He has reached the 40-homer mark four times in his career; Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth hold the all-time mark with five seasons. Cruz also was the 57th player in major league history to reach 400 career home runs.

His .992 OPS in 2020 ranked fourth in the AL and was the fifth-best mark in MLB history by a player in his age-39 season or older, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And he led all major leaguers with a 1.182 OPS on pitches in the strike zone over the past two seasons.

From 2014 to 2018, no player in the majors hit more home runs than Cruz (203). In 16 major league seasons, Cruz, a six-time MLB All-Star who has three Silver Slugger Awards, has hit 417 home runs with 1,152 RBIs and a .278 batting average for the Twins, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers.

Wonderfilm Media Developing Biopic About Tampa Bay Rays’ Breakout Star Randy Arozarena

Randy Arozarena’s life story is headed to the big screen…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who broke the MLB record for most home runs and hits in a single postseason, will be the focus of a biopic from Wonderfilm Media.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena, the Rays’ breakout star, came from Cuba and fueled his team’s run to the World Series, which eventually went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

Brad Gann, the screenwriter of the Mark Wahlberg-led Invincible and a co-writer of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton biopic Soul Surfer, will write the screenplay.

Arozarena’s story is inspiring. He escaped Cuba on a makeshift boat, landed in Mexico, and started a new life there before making his way to the U.S. and eventually, his Major League Baseball debut in 2017.

Arozarena currently holds the MLB record for most home runs in a single postseason with 10. In his rookie postseason, Arozarena broke Barry Bonds’ record for most home runs as well as Derek Jeter’s record for most hits by a rookie. He was also named MVP of the ALCS.

Randy Arozarena Becomes First MLB Player to Hit Nine Home Runs in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is still making history…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie has become the first player to hit nine home runs in a single postseason after taking Los Angeles Dodgers starter Julio Urias deep to right field in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena already holds the rookie hit record for a single postseason, set in Game 3, while breaking a four-way tie for most home runs.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager also homered in Game 4 and has eight this postseason.

Arozarena later scored the winning run on Brett Phillips‘ walk-off single, as the Rays beat the Dodgers 8-7 in Game 4 to even the World Series at two games apiece.

Arozarena actually fell down rounding third base, but after Dodgers catcher Will Smith couldn’t handle the relay throw, the Rays’ rookie was able to make it home with the winning run.

Randy Arozarena

“All I was thinking about was just running hard,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “Running hard as I could. Once I got to a certain spot, I saw that the ball got bobbled. I got sent home. I tripped. … I was actually trying to get back to third base because I knew we had already tied the game so, if anything, I was just trying to get in a rundown. Then, I saw the ball get past him, so I turned around and scored.”

Arozarena also holds the record for total bases in a single postseason. He singled to lead off the sixth inning Saturday night, tying Pablo Sandoval for most hits by any player in one postseason.

The 2020 playoffs featured an extra round, meaning Arozarena is playing in his 18th playoff game already.

Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds are the three other players — along with Seager — to hit eight home runs in a single postseason.

Pete Alonso Hits 52nd Homer to Tie Aaron Judge’s MLB Rookie Home Run Record

Pete Alonsois one homer away from making history on his own…

The 24-year-old part-Spanish American New York Metsslugger hit his 52nd homer of the season, tying New York Yankees star Aaron Judge‘s total from 2017 for most by a rookie.

Alonso lined an 0-1 fastball from Atlanta Bravesleft-hander Dallas Keuchelnarrowly over the wall in left field in the first inning Friday night. He smiled as he hurried around the bases and pointed to the home fans as he crossed the plate. Teammates greeted him with handshakes outside the dugout, and the crowd at Citi Fieldinsisted on a curtain call.

“Unbelievable. When I was rounding the bases I felt like a little kid. I felt like a 7-year-old kid,” Alonso said. “I was just really kind of overcome with pure joy and emotion. I don’t think I’ve had a happier time in my life playing baseball. That is the ultimate. That’s what dreams are made of. It’s unbelievable that it happened. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Keuchel was booed when he walked Alonso in the third inning, and the big slugger popped up and struck out in his final two at-bats. The Mets won 4-2.

Alonso leads the CincinnatiReds’ Eugenio Suarezby three for the majors’ home run lead and would be the first rookie since at least 1900 to claim the big league crown outright. Manager Mickey Callawaysaid he might bat Alonso leadoff in the final two games to get him extra at-bats, and Alonso was eager to slide up a spot.

A history major in college with “an affinity for that kind of stuff,” Alonso said he’s struggling to comprehend the accomplishment.

“When I think of baseball history, I think old-timey guys like Lou GehrigBabe RuthBarry Bonds,” Alonso said. “Geez, I mean, to think that as a rookie I hit more homers than everyone except for one guy, it’s nuts. It’s crazy. I’m not trying to sound any other way. It’s just, wow.”

Judge, who has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, has 26 homers in 100 games in 2019. He predicted late Friday night that Alonso would break the rookie record.

“No better person to share it with. He’s eventually going to break it, I know that for sure,” Judge said. “Happy for him. I had a chance to meet him this year and talk to him a little bit, and no better individual to represent not only the Mets but the city of New York. He’s going to do a lot of special things over his long career. I’m excited for him. This is just the beginning for him, the first of many records he’s going to break.”

Alonso has already set franchise records for homers, total bases (343) and extra-base hits (84). He has 119 RBIs and 100 runs, becoming the first Mets rookie to reach triple digits in both categories. No New York player had reached those totals in any season since David Wrightand Carlos Beltranin 2008. The 119 RBIs put Alonso just five away from matching Wright’s all-time single-season franchise record.

“He’s been outstanding,” Callaway said. “There’s just something about Pete that draws everybody in.”

Alonso’s 52nd homer also tied him with for second-most all time in a player’s first season with a team. Alex Rodriguezhit 52 in 2001, his first season with the Texas Rangers. Babe Ruth holds the record with 54 homers for the Yankees in 1920, after he was traded from the Boston Red Sox.

New York trailed the National League East-champion Braves 2-1 after Alonso’s homer.

In a record season for home runs in the majors, Alonso’s long ball feat wasn’t the only one achieved Tuesday night. The Yankees got in on the fun when they became the second team in MLB history with 300 homers in a season. They joined the Minnesota Twins, who reached the mark on Thursday.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Hits Historic Homer to Earn a Place in MLB History

Ronald Acuna Jr. is making his MLB mark…

The 21-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder, who plays for the Atlanta Braves, has become only the third player in baseball history to hit 40 homers in a season at 21 years old or younger.

Ronald Acuna Jr.

Acuna’s historic homer came with a flourish in the third inning of Atlanta’s 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. He launched a 432-foot drive into the second deck at SunTrust Park, standing at home plate to admire his shot off Aaron Nola before tossing the bat away and slowly rounding the bases.

Acuna was pumped to join a very exclusive club, but even more thrilled about the Braves clinching at least a tie for first place in the National League East.

“That’s the most exciting thing up to this point,” Acuna said through a translator. “That’s what we’re all looking for. I think for all of us, it’s just come out with that same energy, that same enthusiasm, get that win and hopefully celebrate. That’s something we’re all looking forward to.”

Mel Ott, who was 20 when he hit 42 homers for the New York Giantsin 1940, was the only player younger than Acuna to post a 40-homer season. Eddie Mathewsalso was 21 but about two months older than Acuna when he hit 47 homers for the Milwaukee Bravesin 1953.

Ott and Mathews are both members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“It feels incredible,” said Acuna, who was born December 18, 1997. “To be compared to superstars and Hall of Famers like that, especially at such a young age, wow.”

Acuna had gone five games since hitting his 39th homer.

“He might relax now and really go off,” manager Brian Snitkersaid. “That’s an unbelievable accomplishment at this stage of his career.”

Acuna is still three stolen bases shy of another milestone. He has 37 steals in his quest to become just the fifth 40-40 player in baseball history, following Jose Canseco(1988), Barry Bonds(1996), Alex Rodriguez(1998) and Alfonso Soriano(2006).

Minnesota Twins’ Slugger Nelson Cruz Hits Three Homers Against Chicago White Sox

Nelson Cruz is three times the star…

The 39-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a slugger for the Minnesota Twins, homered three times in the first five innings against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night, leading the Twins to a 10-3 victory.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz hit a solo drive in the first, a two-run shot in the third and another two-run homer in the fifth. It’s the first career three-homer game for the six-time All-Star, who has 385 home runs in his career.

Cruz batted again with a runner on first in the sixth and struck out swinging against Jimmy Cordero, ending the inning. He flied out to right leading off the ninth, ending the day 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

“It’s not easy,” Cruz said. “To be able to hit three is a blessing.

“The most important thing is we won and the way [Jose] Berrios pitched. At the end of the day, it’s pitching.”

Cruz went deep against All-Star Lucas Giolito on different pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup.

“He’s a good hitter,” Giolito said. “He was seeing me well.”

Cruz’s outburst followed three-homer games by New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano on Tuesday night and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Wednesday. 

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, it’s the first time in major league history there’s been a three-homer game on three consecutive days.

Cruz, who signed a $14.3 million, one-year contract with Minnesota in January, has six homers in his past four games and 25 overall this season. According to Stats LLC, he is the oldest player in major league history to hit six-plus homers in a four-game span, surpassing Barry Bonds, who hit seven in four games at age 36 in 2001.

Cruz also became the 10th player in big league history with a three-homer game after turning 39, according to Baseball Prospectus data, joining a list that includes Babe RuthStan MusialReggie Jackson, Dave WinfieldFrank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.

“You just assume he’s done things like that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Those kind of nights are pretty unique and special, and when you get a chance to see them live, we all kind of enjoy them and appreciate them.”

Cruz is the only player with multiple four-game homer streaks this season. He also hit a homer in four consecutive games June 5-9, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He is the oldest player with a three-homer game since Rodriguez did it four years ago against the Twins.

At 39 years and 24 days old, Cruz is the second-oldest player in the modern era (since 1900) with seven homers in a six-game span. Graig Nettleswas 40 years and 4 days old for the sixth game of his streak in August 1984.

Miami Marlins’ Star Giancarlo Stanton Named MLB’s National League MVP

Giancarlo Stanton is a National (League) hero…

The 28-year-old part-Puerto Rican baseball star, an outfielder for the Miami Marlins, won the National League MVP title, edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds in the closest vote since 1979.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. The Marlins were 77-85.

“I’m so thankful it happened and I’m going to enjoy this and work to get better,” Stanton said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Stanton finished the season batting .281 with 168 hits, 59 HRs and 132 RBIs. His homer total was the most in the majors since 2001, when Barry Bonds hit a record 73 and Sammy Sosa had 64.

Stanton got 10 first-place votes and 302 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Votto also got 10 firsts and had 300 points.

“Just so close,” Votto said, according to MLB.com, after learning the outcome. “[I’m] really, really grateful for the support. I cannot believe how close it was. I just can’t believe coming up two points short. It’s so cool in a way coming up that short. Most of the time it’s a landslide or it’s clear. This wasn’t that. That was one of the entertaining aspects of it. Because Giancarlo and I did things so differently and because we’re both on losing clubs, it was for me a very interesting vote.”

“I don’t feel terribly disappointed, not really because I think that it was just two very, very good seasons that went head-to-head,” Votto said.

Stanton is the first player in Marlins history to win an MVP award.

He led the majors in home runs, RBI, extra-base hits and slugging percentage, each of which set a Marlins single-season record, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Votto topped the majors with a .454 on-base percentage. Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was third in the voting.

The last player from a losing team to win an MVP was Alex Rodriguez, who took the AL award in 2003 with Texas. The last NL MVP from a losing team was Andre Dawson with the 1987 Chicago Cubs.

Stanton joins Dan Marino and LeBron James as the only Miami pro athletes in a major sport to win MVP.

“That’s definitely good company,” Stanton said.

Houston Astros’ Star Jose Altuve Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Altuve is an American (League) hero…

The 27-year-old Venezuelan baseball star, a second baseman for the Houston Astros, has won the American League MVP award, beating out New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin and capping the Astros’ championship season with another top prize.

Jose Altuve

Altuve , whos stands at 5-foot-6, received 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

“I was surprised that I won it,” Altuve said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Altuve batted a Major League Baseball-best .346. He had 204 hits, 24 home runs and 81 RBIs for the World Series champion Astros.

It’s been over a decade since Altuve signed with Houston from Venezuela — only after he was sent home from one tryout and told he was too short.

“They told me not to come back,” Altuve said. “It was something me and my dad, he went with me that day, we were like, ‘We have to go again. We have to try again.'”

“It’s not a rule that you have to be 6-foot or you have to be really strong to play baseball and become a good player,” he added.

Altuve beat out a player who couldn’t be more different. The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third.

Altuve said on ESPN’s SportsCenter that winning the MVP has fueled him for years to come.

“Winning the MVP has made me want to keep getting better and keep helping my team for the next whatever years.”

Altuve is one of two second basemen in MLB history to hit .330 in a season with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, along with Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (once). Altuve has done it in each of the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Altuve is the second Astros player to win an MVP, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in 1994.

He is the third player during the wild-card era to be named his league’s MVP in the same year that his team won the World Series. The other players to do that since 1995 are Buster Posey (2012 San Francisco Giants) and Kris Bryant (2016 Chicago Cubs), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

 

Los Angeles Angels Star Albert Pujols Becomes Ninth Player to Hit 600 Home Runs

Albert Pujols has joined an elite squad…

The 37-year-old Dominican baseball star, an infielder for the Los Angeles Angels, on Saturday became the ninth Major League Baseball player to hit 600 home runs when he hit a grand slam off the Minnesota TwinsErvin Santana.

Albert Pujols

Pujols is the only player whose 600th home run was a grand slam.

The Angels designated hitter is the first player to reach 600 home runs since Jim Thome in 2011. The six-year gap between Thome’s and Pujols’ reaching the mark is the longest between players reaching 600 home runs since the 31-year gap between Hank Aaron (April 1971) and Barry Bonds (August 2002).

Among hitters with 600 home runs, only Babe Ruth (.342) had a higher career batting average than Pujols’ current .308 career mark.

Only Willie Mays and Aaron had more at-bats at the time of their 600th home runs than Pujols’ current total of 9,341.

Pujols’ overall accomplishments have been reflected in the three MLB MVP Awards he has won.

With his 600th home run, he joined Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez as the only players in major league history with three MVP Awards and 600 home runs.

Pujols (37 years, 138 days) is the fourth-youngest player to reach 600 home runs, behind Rodriguez (35 years, eight days), Ruth (36 years, 196 days) and Aaron (37 years, 81 days).

Pujols ranks second in St. Louis Cardinals history with 445 home runs, trailing Hall of Famer Stan Musial (475). They’re the only two players in Cardinals history who hit more than 300 home runs, and Pujols hit his in half as many seasons with the Cardinals as Musial. They both won three MVPs in Cardinals uniforms.

Pujols is the second player born outside of the United States to hit 600 homers. The other was Sammy Sosa, who had 609. Four of the five top non-U.S.-born home run hitters were from the Dominican Republic (Sosa, Pujols, Manny Ramírez with 555 and David Ortiz with 541). Cuban-born Rafael Palmeiro has the third-most home runs hit by a non-U.S.-born player, with 569.

Saturday’s home run was Pujols’ 78th at Angel Stadium, which ranks third for ballparks at which he has homered. The leaders are Busch Stadium (110) and Busch Stadium II (94).