The Baseball Hall of Fame voting has just been released, and hearty congratulations are due to the newest inductees: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. But, for Seattle Mariners fans, Edgar Martinez once again missed election. Martinez’s vote total dropped to 25.2 percent of the BBWAA’s voters, down from 35.9 percent the year before and 36.5 the year before that. 36.5 percent is the highest percent that Martinez has received, a good distance from the 75.0 percent needed to be elected. A couple of things are going against the Mariner great.
First, voters are limited to ten players per ballot. While, of course, this doesn’t seem like a lot, I heard Tim Kurkjian comment on his ballot on SportsCenter this afternoon that he didn’t vote for Edgar Martinez although he had in the past. The influx of new blood (Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas) along with alleged PED users squeezed Martinez out. Since Bonds and Clemens remain in purgatory, they will always be taking a spot that could go to another deserving player. In this case, two guys that should be in Cooperstown based on production (Bonds and Clemens) will always be taking away votes from other players as they remain around the 35-40 percent mark.
Secondly, the war on DH continues to keep Martinez down. Frank Thomas did play more games at DH (1310) than in the field (969), but no one has been elected that has primarily been a DH in their career. The DH seems to be viewed as an incomplete position since it is the only that doesn’t field. However, no one would claim Frank Thomas was a slick fielding 1B. Thomas contributed most to his teams with his bat, not his glove. There is no reason Martinez should be penalized for being a DH for most of his career, and I believe this battle on the DH will go away anyway when David Ortiz, primarily a DH, gets elected to the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame recognizes the best players, and I would argue until I was red in the face that Edgar Martinez was one of the best hitters of his day. He had a .312 lifetime batting average, and he batted over .300 in ten full seasons. He took home 4 silver slugger awards, the second most at DH behind Ortiz. And, Edgar never trailed off in his career. At 40 years old in 2003, he batted .294 with 24 HR and 98 RBI in 145 games played. Never mind Edgar has the biggest hit in Mariners’ history: the double that scored Ken Griffey Jr. in 1995 in the ALDS vs. the New York Yankees, giving Seattle their first postseason series victory. Edgar deserves to see his vote total go up, and I hope he can continue to climb the long road to his rightful spot in Cooperstown.