Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
I remember listening to sports radio the day after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. As you might expect, the hosts were discussing the dominant performance of David Ortiz and how he was the well-deserved MVP. The conversation eventually turned to whether Ortiz should eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame. That conversation led to a discussion about whether designated hitters should be put into the hallowed Hall.
Who came up after the discussion about Ortiz? You guessed it. Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners. Keep in mind that this radio broadcast was not in the Seattle area. The accomplishments of Martinez are known well beyond the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, the key voters don’t seem to appreciate what Martinez did during his career.
Martinez is on the ballot again this year, though he will need to make some serious progress if he is going to get into Cooperstown. Are voters unimpressed with his statistics or is this still a DH thing?
The debate over designated hitters as candidates for the Hall gets a bit ridiculous. In general, the critique of the DH is that they aren’t a complete player since they do not play defense. However, there are other players in the Hall that did one or two things extremely well.
Are you going to penalize Mariano Rivera because he basically threw one pitch and only made a contribution in relief situations? Are you going to keep him out because he wasn’t complete enough to be a starter? Of course not. That would be ludicrous. Rivera will be in the Hall, probably on his first ballot.
Besides, when are the baseball “purists” going to accept the DH? It has only been 40 YEARS, people. Maybe the National League should just get on board instead of having this strange difference between the AL and the NL.
Lest we forget, Martinez has already been honored by Major League Baseball. As noted by Dan Hughes of SoDo Mojo, the league saw fit to create the Edgar Martinez Award. This award is given to the outstanding DH each year. Wouldn’t it make sense to elect a guy to the Hall when he already has his own award?
Martinez received 35.9 percent of the vote in 2013. For those of you scoring at home, the math is not exactly working in Edgar’s favor. Something significant will have to happen for Martinez to reach the required 75 percent.
Is Martinez a partial victim of yet another bias against the west coast? Would he get more votes if he had played for a team with better media coverage? At this point, it doesn’t really matter because there is nothing more that Martinez can accomplish. Voters just need to expand their perspective a bit.
The shortcomings have been heavily discussed. It doesn’t help that the Mariners let Martinez languish in the minors for so many years, or that he lost time due to injuries. If 3,000 hits is the magical numbers, Martinez can’t exactly add to his number of 2,247.
Shouldn’t the voters consider the two batting titles, the 11 seasons hitting at least .300 and the career average of .312? How about the fact that Martinez ranks 21st all time in career on-base percentage. Yes, I said ALL TIME. There are a few players who are ahead of Martinez in career OBP that you might know.
Namely, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle. Ring any bells? Maybe I’m a little off here, but this seems like pretty good company in terms of career accomplishments.
The sad reality is that people can quickly forget great players of the past. Will voters remember that during the prime years of Edgar Martinez’s career he was one of the most feared hitters in baseball?
Edgar Martinez will always be a Hall of Famer in the hearts of many Seattle Mariners fans. Unfortunately, he may never be officially recognized by the voters. Perhaps, over time, the voters will see the error of their ways.