Former Mariners DH Edgar Martinez was hoping to be among those announced as Hall of Famers on Wednesday evening, but he fell shy of the 75 percent threshold with 70.4 percent of the vote. It was his ninth year on the ballot; he will reappear for a 10th and final time next year, his last shot to be elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America. After that, he will have to rely on the veterans committee.
Martinez debuted on the ballot in 2010, earning 36.2 percent. He would hover in that area for four years until plummeting to 25.2 percent in 2014, when the ballot really expanded due to no one getting elected the previous year. After earning only 27 percent in 2015, his support increased in a big way to 43.4 percent in 2016, and 58.6 percent in 2017. The trendline is going in the right direction, perhaps just in time for Martinez.
Martinez spent 18 seasons in the majors, all with the Mariners, becoming one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Across his career, he hit .312/.418/.515 with 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI. He drew 1,283 walks, which helped him lead the league on on-base percentage three times. He won the batting title twice, won five Silver Slugger Awards, and made the All-Star team seven times. Martinez also helped lead the Mariners to the postseason four times, putting up an .873 OPS in 148 trips the plate.
How scary was Martinez? He even struck fear in the heart of Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time. In a 2013 interview with Christian Red of the New York Daily News, Rivera was asked which hitter was the toughest he ever faced. Rivera said, “The toughest – and thank God he retired – Edgar Martinez. Oh my God. I think every pitcher will say that, because this man was tough.”
Martinez is arguably the greatest DH of all-time if you consider production on a rate basis and don’t value power significantly more than other ways a hitter produces. The top-three, among those who played at least half of their career games at DH, is some combination of Martinez, Frank Thomas, and David Ortiz.
|Seasons (PA)||18 (8674)||19 (10075)||20 (10091)|
Thomas was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014, his first year of eligibility, with 83.7 percent of the vote. Ortiz will also presumably be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he appears on the ballot. Even if one values power so much more than anything else a DH can do, Martinez isn’t that far behind Thomas and Ortiz to justify not voting for him and keeping him out of the Hall of Fame for nine years.
There were 422 voters this year and 297 of them voted for Martinez. He will need at least 317 votes to get in next year, an increase of 20 votes. He’s had bigger increases in voting in each of the last three years, picking up 43 votes from 2015 ’16, 68 from 2016 to ’17, and 38 from 2017 to ’18. Of course, the higher up one goes, the harder it will be to get the next vote. Still, it seems perfectly reasonable that Martinez will finally get the requisite support he needs to earn his deserved enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Here’s hoping.