Edgar Martinez Should Be Inducted Into Cooperstown: Future Mariners Hall of Famer
Friday August 26, 2011
Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports): When you think of the most consistent hitters during the 1990’s, most people think of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. One name that always gets overlooked is Edgar Martinez. He had a .312 career batting average, reached base more than 40% of the time, has never has been linked to steroids, and he arguably saved baseball in Seattle for years to come.
Some of the arguments against Edgar being in the Hall of Fame are that he hardly played in the field, was not a superstar, never won a world series, and that his numbers just aren’t good enough. As a Mariners fan, I definitely have bias but I’ll try to explain why I think Edgar should legitimately be in the Hall of Fame. First of all, if his numbers aren’t good enough, why was Andre Dawson’s statistics enough for him to be voted into the hall of fame? Let’s compare the two hitters:
Edgar (Career) .312/.418/.515. Wins Above Replacement (courtesy of fangraphs.com): 69.9
Andre Dawson: .279/.323/.482 Wins Above Replacement: 62.3
What’s the difference between these two? The Hawk is in the Hall of Fame, which Dawson deserved. Other Hall-of-Famers with a lower WAR than Edgar are Harmon Killebrew, Dennis Eckersley, and Jackie Robinson. There are over 230 former MLB players in the Hall of Fame. I think it’s amazing that Edgar is not one of them.
After Edgar missed the 1994 season due to injury, he became the Mariners full-time designated hitter. He would go on to be the Mariners starting DH for the next ten years. When asked how that would affect his Hall of Fame chances, Edgar replied, “There are a lot of different opinions about it. What I think is that the DH makes a daily contribution to the team, just like any position player who plays every day.” In 1973, major league baseball instituted the Designated Hitter as a real position. So why should this prevent a primary DH from ever reaching Cooperstown?
In his first season as a DH, Martinez won his second American League batting title, hitting .356 with an OBP of .479 and a slugging percentage of .628. Hall of famers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays never had a season with an OBP over .425. It is my estimation that Martinez wasn’t a superstar across the baseball scene because of where he played. If he played in New York, chances are it wouldn’t be this hard for him to get into Cooperstown. The low light of Edgar’s career is definitely though that he never won a World Series championship. Superstars that win the big one tend to be favored in the eyes of Cooperstown voters.
During the 1995 season the city of Seattle fell in love with the Mariners. After having just two winning seasons in their first sixteen years, Edgar and Ken Griffey Jr. led the Mariners to a 79-66 record. In the 1995 ALDS series between the Mariners and the Yankees, Edgar reached base 2/3 of the time and had two game winning hits. On October, 8, 1995, with the series tied 2-2, the Mariners battled back to score two runs and send the game into extra innings. After the eighth inning, the crowd started chanting “Randy! Randy! Randy!” Finally Lou Piniella gave in and Randy Johnson walked out to the mound to Welcome to the Jungle booming through the Kingdome’s outdated speakers. However in the top of the eleventh tragedy struck. A walk, bunt, and single put the Yankees in the lead, and with their stud pitcher Jack McDowell coming in to pitch the M’s chances looked pretty slim. With runners on first and third, Edgar ended up hitting a double down the left field line to win the series for the M’s. The Mariners were eliminated in the ALCS at the end by the Indians, but the effect of Edgar’s hit had MLB fans everywhere truly excited about Mariners baseball for the first time ever.
The thing is that he wasn’t just successful in the playoffs; Martinez won Seattle one of the more beautiful MLB ballparks, Safeco Field. Two months earlier, 50.1% of King county voters voted NO on a $410 million proposal for a new stadium, to keep the Mariners in Seattle. The state legislature later approved a new stadium for the Mariners, mainly due to public pressure. This led people to think what would have happened if it weren’t for Edgar’s clutch hit.
Edgar was known for his great batting eye, which resulted from a series of drills before every game he utilized to improve it. He also gave back to the community by founding the Martinez foundation, which helps give minorities’ access to proper education. When Edgar retired in 2004, Paul Molitor said, “He was one of the most feared right-handed hitters for a long time in this league. The amount of respect he has from peers speaks to the value of the offensive player he was.”
In 2010, Edgar’s first year eligible for the hall, he received 36.2% of the BBWAA votes. Martinez missed the 75% cutoff. This year he received 32.9 % of the vote. Who knows if Edgar will ever be in the Hall of Fame, this year definitely wasn’t encouraging. But in Bert Blyleven’s (elected in 2011, after 14 years of eligibility) second year on the ballot, he received only 14.1% of votes. So there is reason for optimism. Whether Edgar ever makes it to Cooperstown or not, he will always be a hero to Mariners fans and one of the best pure hitters in major league history.
***Today’s feature was prepared by one of our intern candidates, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
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Posted on August 26, 2011, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged baseball, bonds, cooperstown, designatedhitter, dh, eckersely, edgar, griffey, killebrew, mariners, martinez, mcgwire, mlb, molitor, robinson. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.