Note: Last year when I was doing research on the history of the “Bank for International Settlements,” I ran across the remarkable and heroic story of a man named Raoul Wallenberg, who virtually single handedly led a mission that saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from certain death in the Nazi concentration camps toward […]Read the Rest →
Note: Every year at this time for the last several years I have published an article in support of Edgar Martinez’s candidacy for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Edgar is now in his 9th year of eligibility for the Hall, and if the Baseball Writers Association of America does not grant him entry with the required 75% approval this year, the former Seattle Mariners star will only have one more year of eligibility in which to make it in. It doesn’t speak well for the Baseball Writers to have taken this long to acknowledge Edgar’s greatness. Please read on…
That former Seattle Mariners Designated Hitter Edgar Martinez belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame is, to me, a no-brainer. Despite this, for the prior 8 years the Baseball Writers Association of America has failed to vote him in. So, to demonstrate why I feel as I do I thought I would share a quick statistical look at Edgar’s career relative to other Hall of Famers. The results are illuminating.
Edgar Martinez had an 18-year Major League career, the bulk of it as DH (designated hitter) for the Seattle Mariners. Across his 18 seasons Edgar had a career .312 batting average, a career on base percentage (OBP) of .418, 2247 hits, 309 home runs and 1,261 runs batted in (RBI). He also registered 2 American League batting titles (1992 and 1995). I compared Edgar’s stats against a random sampling of 9 other players already elected to the Hall of Fame. The players were Luis Aparicio, Richie Ashburn, Luke Appling, Roy Campanella, Tony Perez, Carlton Fisk, Lou Boudreau, Yogi Berra and Barry Larkin. You might be surprised when I tell you that Edgar’s career batting average AND career OBP are better than ANY of these already elected Hall of Famers. In addition, Edgar has more hits than Berra, Campanella and Boudreau, more RBIs than Larkin, Boudreau, Appling, Ashburn, Campanella and Aparicio and more home runs than Aparicio, Ashburn, Appling, Campanella, Boudreau and Larkin. By hitting comparison alone with these already elected Hall of Famers, Edgar belongs in the Hall.
As impressive as that is, there are more compelling statistical reasons why Edgar should be in the Hall. The most impacting of these to me is that he is one of only 9 players in the entire history of Major League baseball to have a career batting average over .300, a career OBP over .400, along with 1000 career walks, 300 home runs and 500 doubles. The others on the list? Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Todd Helton, Manny Ramirez and Chipper Jones. It doesn’t take a Baseball Writer to realize that is some impressive company. Also, Martinez’s career .418 OBP is the fourth highest OBP by a right handed hitter EVER! In addition, according to advanced baseball metrics that measure a player’s value as regards winning ball games, stats that take into account both offense and defense, Edgar ranks 70th all time; and this despite the fact he spent the bulk of his career as DH. Of the 69 players ranked ahead of him, 53 are already in the Hall and another 6 are still playing or are not yet eligible. The former Seattle Mariner and current Mariners hitting coach is widely recognized as the best Designated Hitter of his era, a fact even acknowledged by the American League (the National League does not employ the DH) by naming the annual award for the best DH the “Edgar Martinez Award”.
Since Edgar obviously has the hitting stats to qualify for the Hall one might assume that the Writers must be looking at something else in denying him entrance. We can eliminate steroids and performance enhancing drugs as a factor in the Writers’ evaluation. Unlike others of his era (i.e. Rafael Palmiero, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens et al) there has never been a hint of a scandal with Edgar regarding the use of these substances. The guy was/is clean as a whistle. That really leaves only one thing that the Writers could be looking at, and that is the fact that Edgar was a DH the bulk of his career and therefore not also a position player on defense. All the other players I mentioned above who are already in the Hall, and most of those 69 ranked ahead of him according to advanced metrics, played defensive positions as well as offense.
The Writers shouldn’t hold that against Martinez. The DH has existed as a position on American League teams since 1973. This is by rule. Since it is a valid position why should the DH be considered as less Hall eligible than, say, a closer who comes in only to pitch the 9th inning? Several of these, like Dennis Eckersly and Rollie Fingers, are already in the Hall. The game of baseball has changed much over the last 50 years, and is today increasingly a game of specialization. Today we have not only closers to pitch the 9th inning, but both right handed and left handed set up men whose whole job is to face one or two hitters in the late innings of a game. Baseball today is a game of specialization, and the simple fact is that Edgar Martinez performed his specialized hat of DH better than anyone else ever has in the history of the game. Based on that alone he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
So, come on Baseball Writers Association of America—it’s not 1950 anymore! Wake up, come to present time and acknowledge the man who was the best at his position in Major League history. Vote Edgar Martinez into the Hall of Fame. He deserves it.
Copyright © 2018
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved