Edgar Martinez Should Be In The Hall Of Fame


This is always an awkward conversation. Every year it is, and it probably won’t be any different next year. Talking about the MLB Hall of Fame is tricky at best, infuriating at worst, and polarizing more often than not. That said, we should all be able to agree on this one.

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Edgar Martinez has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for six years, now. He hasn’t gotten in yet, obviously, and his share of the vote actually went down a little last year. He’s going to get more chances, but the big question is “why not now?” Or, maybe, “how on earth could someone harbor the belief that Edgar isn’t a HOFer?”

You’ve heard this one before: there’s no place in Cooperstown for a DH. They don’t even play the field, maaaaaan. Part-timers by nature, or something. The argument is that even the best DHs ever don’t contribute enough to make it into the Hall. That’s dumb. Here’s why that’s dumb.

If there can’t be DHs in Cooperstown, then who let all these relievers in? Hoyt Wilhelm made more contributions on the field than Edgar Martinez? It’s not the perfect measure of value, but it serves to illustrate the point nice and quickly: Edgar has 65.8 career fWAR. The only HOF reliever who even totaled more than 30 is Eckersley.

So a top-flight DH pretty clearly contributes more over the span of his career than an all-time reliever. So we can’t have DHs, but we can have closers? And managers? DHs play the game, unlike managers and other eligible-to-be-immortalized executives. To eliminate an entire position from consideration is stupid. It’s not an argument worth taking seriously.

Let’s stick to this reliever analogy, because as long as we’re being forced to talk about less-prominent positions, we might as well make some parallels. Mariano Rivera is going to get into the Hall, and then he’ll be there and Eckersley will be there. Those are the two best relievers ever, pretty much without question. Should that be the precedent, then, for positions like this – the best of the best, and maaaaaaybe the rest?

If so, Edgar’s in. Best DH of all time. Maybe you let David Ortiz join the conversation a ways down the line, but he’s still several productive seasons away from that kind of consideration. And even so, he’s way off Edgar’s pace. So Edgar’s the best, and the only modern candidate to possibly catch up is a 39-year-old with a long way to go.

Edgar’s trip to Cooperstown has been long-delayed by crowded ballots. Writers can only nominate ten players at a time for Hall of Fame induction, and then only players who received 75% of the vote or more are allowed in. And there are a lot more than ten players on the ballot right now who arguably deserve to make it in.

Here’s the list. Yeah, it’s crowded. The crowd is a big part of why the Hall debate often turns into a PEDs debate. Any reason to eliminate a candidate these days. Because of the self-imposed ten player constraint, the voters have to get scrupulous. Mike Piazza had the look about him of a steroid user? Good enough evidence to toss him out, at least to certain voters. Yeah, best believe that DH penalty is hurting Edgar so much in large part due to crowding.

The ballot limit is a pretty big flaw in the process, and is actively hurting Edgar’s candidacy. Until the BBWAA does something about the way voting is conducted, the ten player limit is going to make Hall of Fame balloting a fool’s gambit. If there are more than ten elligible candidates, who do you pick, the ones who are extra-elligible?

Edgar Martinez should absolutely, unquestionably be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Getting there is going to be a chore, given the presence of short-sighted popular arguments and a crowded ballot. All we can do right now is hope that support doesn’t slip again this year, as it did a year ago. He’s unlikely to get in this year, but that won’t stop us from hoping. Because how cool would that be?!

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