Edgar Martinez Belongs In The Hall Of Fame

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There are just seven players in major league history with at least 300 HR, at least 500 2B, a career batting average of at least .300, a career on-base percentage of at least .400, and a career slugging percentage of at least .500.  Their names are Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Manny Ramirez, and Edgar Martinez.  Five are in the Hall Of Fame, one is still active, and Martinez will be on the Hall Of Fame ballot this year.  The knock on Martinez is that voters seem to be reluctant to induct a designated hitter, because they didn’t play the “whole” game.  Martinez’s fielding was actually not all that bad of a fielder.  He started his career as a okay-fielding third baseman, with the understanding that he would move to first base later in his career.  But in an exhibition game prior to the 1993 season, Martinez suffered an injury from which he never fully recovered, causing him to move full time to the DH slot.  The injury also caused him to miss most of the 1993 and 1994 seasons, his age 30 and 31 seasons.  Martinez was an extremely durable player, but he did miss the majority of three seasons with injury, he also lost three years at the beginning of his career when he was blocked at third base.  So, despite is 18-year career, he only really had 12 full seasons.  Eliminating his injuries, Martinez’s numbers over a full 162-game season are solidly consistent, from age 27-41: .313/.421/.521, 25 HR, 42 2B, 1 3B, 181 H, 99 R, 102 RBI,  97 SO, 105 BB.  Martinez was a rare breed of hitter.  A slugger with a huge home park, he could easily consistently have belted 30 HR out of any other, he learned to drive the ball for extra bases, and high RBI totals, and the big one, in 8 of his 12 full seasons, walked more than he struck out, often by large amounts.  Hank Aaron, the “great” most comparable to Martinez, 35 HR, 31 2B, .307/.375/.559 per year, didn’t come anywhere close to doing that.  Oh yes, did I forget to mention that Martinez was a great playoff hitter.  I think I neglected to say that he played in a huge pitchers era.  Fit the pieces together, Edgar Martinez is a Hall Of Famer, and the voters must put him there.

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6 comments

  1. raysfanboy

    I might have to agree with you. Edgar Martinez was one of the most feared hitters of his time. He was always contending for a batting title and mashing any ball in the strikezone.

    Great job breaking down the numbers to make a case for him.

    Are you a fellow Cubs fan (I assume from the pic). If so, you have to be stoked about this weekend’s series with the Cards. Going to be a battle!
    http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

  2. santosis

    This is a tough one for me–I like Edgar, and I appreciate talented contact hitters (Wade Boggs was my hero growing up), but I think I can offer something in the tone of devil’s advocate:

    Most contact guys who make the HoF claim longevity, and I don’t just mean the 3000 hit plateau. Edgar never topped 200 hits; he topped 162 only 8 times. Injuries certainly play a factor here; Edgar only managed to play over 140 games 8 times, and only crossed 150 4 times. But outside of hits and OBP, nothing about Edgar suggests anything more than the Hall of Very Good.

    Paul Molitor would seem to be Edgar’s “competition”: Molitor crossed the 162 hit plateau 12 times. Molitor reached 200 hits 4 times. And, unlike Edgar, Molitor has another feather in his hat–500+ stolen bases.

    You might compare Martinez to Don Mattingly–one of the better hitters I can remember that is consistently passed by. Mattingly’s career was also cut short by injuries (even as a Red Sox die hard I feel it a cruel twist of fate that he didn’t get a ring in 1996). He played only 14 seasons to Edgar’s 18, and he really was never the same after a 1987. While he lacked Edgar’s patience, he was a more consistent contact guy (crossing 162 hits 8 times, and 200 hits three straight seasons). While Edgar’s career OPS is 1.000 points higher, Mattingly throws 9 Gold Gloves into the mix (hey, sure, some of those were sentimental and a product of playing in the Apple). I’m willing to bet that more writers would vote for Mattingly than Martinez. Yet another instance of the Yankees proving that life is not always fair.

    Interestingly, both Molitor and Edgar had 7 All-Star appearances; Mattingly only had 6, but he is the only one of the three to win an MVP. Ultimately I don’t think Mattingly or Martinez will ever see the hall (neither will Boston’s beloved Mo Vaughn). Fair or not, the Hall is in almost all occasions (unless you are Pedro Martinez or Sandy Koufax) a testament to staying power–and some players aren’t built to last.

    • paintingtheblack

      All very good points, and a stronger argument than mine. If only Edgar’s career wasn’t derailed by injuries.

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