The Hall of Fame Needs Edgar

**Update: Since the publication of this article, Edgar Martinez missed being inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame by 20 votes.  For those sports writers who did not vote for him this year, please read the article below when considering whether to vote for him in his final year of eligibility next year.

Perhaps I am biased.  I may be a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan who came of age in the mid-1990s when the M’s actually had winning teams, but I can objectively say that Edgar Martinez deserves to be voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  I know many sports writers have already cast their ballots for this year (publicized completely on Wednesday, January 24), but for those who have not, please consider the arguments below.  And should Edgar miss this penultimate chance, consider these points in his final round next year (players are only eligible for 10 years post-retirement).

But first, excuse my nostalgia.

Edgar’s double saved an ailing franchise.  Not only was 1995 the year of the Mariner’s first playoff appearance, it was also their first division series win.  Edgar’s double sent the Mariners to the American League Championship series (as the legend, Dave Niehaus, elegantly stated in the clip).  While they eventually lost to a powerful Cleveland Indians team (who doesn’t remember Albert Belle?), the 1995 Seattle Mariners brought so much joy and hope to a city of relatively dismal sports franchises.  They could not have done it without Edgar.

Many sports writers will argue that a pure Designated Hitter, which Edgar was for most of his career, does not belong in the Hall of Fame.  Yet pitchers do not bat in the American League.  Should a career American League pitcher with amazing statistics be excluded from the Hall simply because his counterparts in the National League hit whenever they play?

In the American League, a Designated Hitter’s full time job is to contribute to the offense.  No Designated Hitter has performed this job better.  Not even David Ortiz.  Before even making that comparison, however, check out how much better of a hitter Edgar was when compared to some of the HOF all time greats (courtesy of Ryan Spaeder, one of Edgar’s biggest supporters).

Hall of Famers Edgar Martinez
Johnny Mize: .312 BA .312 BA
Stan Musial: .417 OBP .418 OBP
Willie McCovey: .515 SLG .515 SLG
Frank Robinson: .926 OPS .933 OPS
Mike Schmidt: 147 OPS+ 147 OPS+
Ernie Banks: 67.4 rWAR 68.3 rWAR
Tony Gwynn: 65.0 fWAR 65.5 fWAR
Willie Stargell: 145 wRC+ 147 wRC+
Henry Aaron: .403 wOBA .405 wOBA

These numbers prove that Edgar was truly a hitting specialist.  Baseball writers are comfortable inducting other specialists (e.g., Closers), even some not considered the greatest of all time.  Edgar is the greatest DH of all time to date, and the numbers back it up.  Below is a comparison of his statistics against David Ortiz, arguably his closest competition for the DH crown:

Edgar Martinez:

— .312/.418/.515

— 68.3 rWAR | 65.5 fWAR

— 147 OPS+

— 147 wRC+

— .405 wOBA

David Ortiz:

— .286/.380/.552

— 55.4 rWAR | 50.7 fWAR

— 141 OPS+

— 140 wRC+

— .392 wOBA

Of note, Ortiz had almost 1,400 more at-bats than Edgar, but managed only 2,472 hits to Martinez’s 2,247.  Even given the AB disparity, they are strikingly close when it comes to BB: Ortiz – 1,319; Edgar – 1,283.

With that said, nobody can take away Ortiz’s 541 home runs, clutch postseason play, and charismatic presence in the middle of Boston’s lineup for years.  Both Ortiz and Martinez deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

For other compelling arguments on Edgar’s candidacy, including the fact writers have voted in players solely for their defensive abilities (Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, etc.), see Ryan’s article.  Why does an offensive specialist, a forerunner of the DH position, not deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame?

The Mariner’s home stadium, Safeco Field, would not exist today between Royal Brougham Way and Edgar Martinez Drive without Edgar’s contribution to Seattle’s franchise.  His statistics between 1995 and 2000 are eye-popping.  Add to those stats the fact he is a model ambassador to the game, a humble star, and an intelligent baseball mind who continues to support MLB to this day (current Mariner’s hitting coach), and his induction should be a no brainer.

I look forward to seeing Edgar get what he deserves on Wednesday: a spot in Cooperstown, where his smooth swing can live for eternity.

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