Edgar Martinez and the Hall of Fame

Edgar Martinez fondly contemplating his next Ace Hardware commercial.

I don’t want to spend too much time on the Edgar Martinez non-election to the hall of fame. I don’t like the election process very much. I don’t like who is making the decision very much. I find myself wanting to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, but pretty unenthused when it comes to arguing about who should get in, and who shouldn’t get in when we could be talking about who is still playing.

That said, I am on the side of Edgar remaining out of the hall.

I wouldn’t be totally upset if he did get in. He was a great hitter, a great Mariner, and by all accounts a great person. But if I had a vote I’d leave him off the ballot.

I don’t think there is much question that ‘Gar is the best hitter in Mariner history, Ichiro be damned. Martinez posted a career wRC+ of 148, and had several seasons over 160. wRC+ compares him to league average, average being 100, and it’s worth noting that Edgar has never been associated with steroids, and that “league average” was a number that was heavily aided by steroids. Edgar Martinez has been hurt by the steroid era because of comparative stats that are comparing him to PED users, but also because his name hasn’t completely escaped steroid speculation as one of the best hitters of his era.

For my money, Edgar wasn’t around long enough, and didn’t put up some of the kinds of home run numbers we’d associate with a hall of fame resume.

I don’t buy the argument that he’s the best player to ever play his position. The DH isn’t a position, but rather, the lack of a position. Edgar shouldn’t get more credit than other great hitters because he couldn’t play the field late into his career.

Edgar Martinez is a victim of the Seattle Mariners ownership. Maybe he’s a victim of circumstance also, as perhaps if he’d played without the DH he’d have been relegated to first base instead, and further legitimized his case for the hall of fame. But he didn’t.

And there is no doubting the amazing skills that Edgar had. There may have never been a person in baseball to control their bat as well as Martinez did. But longevity matters. Milestones matter. Stephen Strasburg may have the best stuff of any pitcher that’s ever existed in the history of the universe, but if he doesn’t pitch 15 seasons and win 250 games, he’s going to have a hard time making it into the hall.

Edgar Martinez is the best hitter I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s the author of my absolute fondest childhood memory. I love Edgar Martinez.

Edgar Martinez is not a Hall of Famer.

  • Anonymous

    I get where you are coming from Casey but personally I’d vote for him if I could and I think I’m more of a small hall guy myself. I think the DH is a legitimate position as it has been established for quite a few years now. They enshrine writers, broadcasters, owners and executives and there are player-members that are undeserving of the honor. Until they throw them out they should let a DH in.

    • Anonymous

      Think about the word position. In every other circumstance position would mean either “position in the field” or “position in the batting order.” Obviously we categorize candidates by position in the field, but not position in the order (save for maybe leadoff). Only DH doesn’t fit either of those categories. We are rewarding Edgar for not playing the field.