Edgar Martinez: Hall of Famer
Photo: Jon Wells
Hall of Famer Edgar Martínez!
It's finally official: Edgar Martínez is going to the Hall of Fame. Announced today, the lifetime Seattle Mariner is one of four new Hall of Famers; the class of 2019 includes Martínez, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, and Mariano Rivera—the first player to be elected unanimously.
Hall of Fame
|* Last year of eligibility|
Martínez was elected in his last year of eligibility, having finally cleared the 75% threshold for election—85.4% of electors from the Baseball Writers Association of America voted for Edgar this year. First eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2010, Martínez was named on 36.2% of that year's ballots. In subsequent years he polled at 32.9%, 36.5%, 35.9%, 25.2%, 27%, 43.4%, 58.6%, and 70.4% in 2018.
The knock on Edgar's candidacy was always his status as a designated hitter; though he played the field for roughly one-third of his 18-year career, most of his accomplishments were as a DH, thus taking away from the idea—for some—that he was a well-rounded ballplayer worthy of the Hall. That attitude began to change in recent years and now the great Mariner icon is getting his proper recognition.
"I thought I'd never get to this point," Martínez said last year of his 70.4% showing. "I feel I still have a good chance." that chance seemed to get even better last month, when the Today's Modern Game committee elected Harold Baines to the Hall. Baines, who retired at age 42 after 22 seasons in the American League, played well over half his games as a DH and has lower overall career averages than does Martínez. Frank Thomas, who also played more than half his games at DH, was elected to the Hall on the normal ballot in 2014.
The DH argument against Martínez always seemed specious given the acceptance of short relievers as Hall of Fame-worthy. Trevor Hoffman, Rich Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, and now Lee Smith (elected by the Veterans' Committee this year) and Rivera all made their bones as closers and few if any people had a problem with them making the Hall as specialist-type players.
Seattleites and Mariner fans all over have long known Edgar Martínez deserves to be in the Hall. His career numbers are amazing—.312/.418/.515 career line, 309 HRs, 1,261 RBI—to say nothing of his two batting championships, seven All-Star nods, his name on the DH of the Year award, the street sign along the first-base side of the Mariners' home ballpark, and his retired number 11 hanging in center field.
Martínez was arguably a better hitter than many who've been in the Hall of Fame for ages. Since the advent of the modern Major Leagues in 1901, there have been four right-handed batters to match a career on-base percentage of .418: Rogers Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Thomas, and Edgar Martínez. For Martínez to fall below no-argument Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn's OBP, he would have to return to the game and go 0-for-660 with no walks. Edgar had two seasons with 25 homers, 50 doubles, and 100 walks; the only other Hall of Famers to have one such season are Lou Gherig and Stan Musial. Ten players have .415+ OBPs and 300 home runs: eight previous Hall of Famers, steroid pariah Barry Bonds, and Edgar Martínez.
From the official Hall of Fame press release:
Edgar Martínez, for whom the Designated Hitter Award has been named since 2004, won batting titles in 1992 and 1995 with the Seattle Mariners, his only club over 18 seasons. He compiled a career .312 batting average with 2,247 hits, including 309 home runs. Martínez, 56, who was elected in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot, is one of only nine players in history with 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300, a career on-base percentage higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage higher than .500. He ranks as the Mariners’ all-time leader in runs (1,219), runs batted in (1,261), doubles (514), walks (1,283), extra-base hits (838), and total bases (3,718).
Martínez is the second player (after Ken Griffey Jr.) to enter the Hall of Fame as a Seattle Mariner. He is one of just 53 Hall of Famers (along with fellow 2019 inductee Rivera) to have played his entire career with one team.
The induction ceremony for Edgar and his fellow 2019 inductees will take place this July in Cooperstown, NY.
Congratulations to Edgar Martínez on this well-deserved and long overdue honor.
Who would you vote for?
This year's Hall of Fame ballot was the last chance for Edgar Martínez, who was finally inducted on his tenth try. Which players do you think deserved a vote? (Limit of 10 selections, per BBWAA rules.)