Around this time last year, I went through and reviewed the case for a number of players for the Hall of Fame, and whether or not I thought that they deserved to be enshrined in the Hall. I’ll be doing this again this year, and for players I reviewed previously, I will revisit my vote and see if it has changed in a year’s time. Theoretically, this should remain the same, but there’s always a chance I am now a whole year wiser than I was last year. Today’s candidate is one that I looked at last year, Edgar Martinez
Martinez was eligible for the Hall for the first time in the 2010 class (2009), and you can find what I wrote last year below. He finished the voting last year with 195 votes out of a possible 539 ballots (36.2%). He seems likely to pick up more votes for this year’s election, but honestly I’d be pretty shocked if he came even remotely closer to 75% than he did last year.
Notable Career Accomplishments
.312 batting average
.418 on base percentage
.515 slugging percentage
OPS+ of 147
7 All-Star Appearances
5 Silver Slugger Awards
6 100+ rbi seasons
The Case for Martinez
Martinez was 1 of the 2 dominant players at his position for the majority of his career. His career numbers all compare favorably on a year-to-year basis with other similar players (ie players who did not start playing full-time until age 27 or later). His career OPS+ tells me that he was an excellent player, with some elite years mixed in. He also had OPS+ seasons of 150 or greater 7 times.
The Case Against Martinez
Martinez was a full-time position player only until 1995, when knee injuries forced him to be a designated hitter full-time. He was never much of a homerun hitter, only finishing with more than 30 in a season once. Due to his injuries and late arrival to the majors, his career totals are not particularly impressive. Also, he was rarely, if ever, the best player on his team.
Personally, I think that the argument that designated hitters should not be in the Hall of Fame is a load of crap. The rules of the game clearly consider the designated hitter to be an important position, not to mention a valid one.
So how do his career numbers stack up? He had 2247 hits and an excellent career line (.312/.418/.515). All three of these numbers point to prolonged excellence. His career OPS+ (147) tells me that he was an elite hitter and slugger. While I do think extra credit can be given to hitters who can also field, I don’t think fair to judge him as necessarily someone who cannot field.
Then we are left to look at how dominant a hitter he truly was. From 1995-2001, a span of 7 seasons, Martinez’ lowest OPS+ was 152, never hit below .306, had at least 23 homers and 86 rbi (driving in over 102 in the other 6 seasons), and slugging .543 or better every year. I would definitely consider that to be a dominant stretch, and coupled with his career numbers, leads me to believe he is a Hall of Famer.
My Thoughts This Year
I think that Martinez gets a lot of downplay on his accomplishments because he was just a designated hitter. And while this definitely plays into whether or not he should be a Hall of Famer, to me this is what stands out: Designated Hitter has been a position in Major League Baseball in some form since 1973. Officially it has been written into the rules, and it is very clear that Edgar Martinez was one of the best full time designated hitters to ever play the game. It seems unlikely to me that he will be elected this year, and that we will also have a much better idea as to whether or not he will be elected at all with how much his vote total increases this year. Time will tell, but hopefully he will get in.
MY VOTE: YES