Edgar Martinez will have one more chance to make the Hall of Fame

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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.

Martinez Thomas Ortiz
Seasons (PA) 18 (8674) 19 (10075) 20 (10091)
AVG .312 .301 .286
OBP .418 .419 .380
SLG .515 .555 .552
HR 309 521 541
RBI 1261 1704 1768
Runs 1219 1494 1419
BB 1283 1667 1319
All-Star 7 5 10
Batting Titles 2 1 0
WS Titles 0 1 3

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.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.