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Is Edgar Martinez is a Hall of Famer?

Dec 29, 2009, 8:58 AM EST

Edgar Martinez.jpgIt’s Edgar Martinez’s first year of eligibility this year. Today Michael Weddell has a comprehensive statistical breakdown/Hall of Fame analysis of the guy at The Baseball Analysts. Weddell believes he is a Hall of Famer and makes a pretty strong case to back it up.

I think I’m convinced that Martinez is a Hall of Famer, but as the first truly viable full-time DH candidate, he obviously raises some interesting questions. I’d be shocked if the BBWAA voted him in this year, but unlike some other guys I’m in favor of, I’m not going to get terribly bent out of shape if they make him wait.  Not because of some “he’s no first ballot Hall of Famer” politics — I think that’s silly — but because I think it’s really worth having the DH conversation last a while to make sure everyone is at least speaking the same language.

That language mostly surrounds the question of just how much — in specific terms — defense matters.  And it’s not just a question that we need to ask about DHs like Martinez and Frank Thomas and David Ortiz. It’s a question we should ask about any candidate, be it Martinez, Omar Vizquel, Keith Hernandez or Andre Dawson.  To date, the best most people can manage is either “and he had a great glove, too!” or “he wasn’t that good defensively,” and that just doesn’t seem to cut it for me.  How great was that glove? Did it sufficiently overcome his weak bat? Did his bat offset his bad glove, or complete lack thereof?

My fear, however, is that people will fall into one of two camps: the one that says “no DH should make the Hall of Fame” or the one that considers DHs, but evaluates them like any first baseman or outfielder and doesn’t make a downwards adjustment in the guy’s value for his non-existent defensive value.

Both approaches would be wrong.  Maybe having Martinez on the ballot for a few years would lead to fewer people defaulting to them.

  1. Tom - Dec 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    You don’t think they have? I’m assuming that nearly everyone who played from the 1980’s on (and realistically probably 10 years before that) had at least dabbled in steroids. Of course that’s different than “known” but isn’t it really the same at the end?

  2. Michael Sisson - Dec 29, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    Edgar was the best there has ever been for Seattle. He played with class and was never an embarassment to himself, his team, his family, Seattle or anyone.
    I say he belongs in the HOF!

  3. TMalone - Dec 29, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    Your evaluation of Nellie Fox is inaccurate. Please note the following offensive statistics:
    Although not known as a great hitter (lifetime .288 batting average), he batted over .300 six times, with 2,663 hits, 355 doubles, and 112 triples. He also led the league in singles for seven straight years, in triples once, and in hits four times. He had the 3rd lowest strikeout percentage since official records were continuously compiled in 1910, but his percentage compared to the league percentage for the time was first – exceeding Joe Sewell and Lloyd Waner – the 2 men above him.

  4. Andre - Dec 29, 2009 at 2:26 PM

    If Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Don Mattingly, Steve Garvey, Dave Parker, Alan Tramell, Dale Murphy, Orel Hershiser, and Tommy John are kept out of the Hall; then who should be let in.

  5. Oldtimer - Dec 29, 2009 at 2:33 PM

    Tom,
    What I am saying is that if anyone got in who isn’t known to have used steroids, the HOF is not responsible. That person is. If they let someone in who is known to have used them, that is on Baseball.
    McGuire, Sosa, Bonds, A-hole, none of them deserve to occupy the glory with Musial, Yaztremski, Ruth, etc. Baseball had better wake up, quickly.

  6. Big Shooter - Dec 29, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    There is no logical arguement to keep a DH from being elected to the HOF. They only played half the game? Is anyone going to say Mo Rivera is not a HOF’er because he never hit? what about ANY PITCHER? they can’t hit their weight….do we consider how horrible of a hitter any pitcher was when considering them for HOF status? So why then would someone whose job it is to hit, score, drive in runs be penalized for not playing defense? I can hear it now….Randy Johnson becomes eligible…350 wins…5,000 strikeouts….but he couldn’t hit a lick….sorry Randy, no HOF for you. It sounds silly because it is.
    As for Edgar, best DH of his generation, .312 with close to ZERO “speed” hits…if he could run at all he may have hit 20 or 30 points higher. No brainer, he is in.

  7. DiamondDuq - Dec 29, 2009 at 4:07 PM

    Big Shooter, your argument is more illogical than you claim the exclusion of DH’s from the HOF is. It doesn’t matter if he was the best DH of his generation, he should be compared to the best hitters of his generation, who all actually played complete games. The reference to pitchers is illogical as well since starters are on the field for far more outs and have far more influence on a game than a guy who has 4-5 AB’s. As far as Mariano Rivera is concerned, his dominance is self explanatory and when compared to other relievers not only of his era but of all-time maintains his greatness. Do you consider Larry Walker and Magglio Ordonez HOFers? Their career numbers are very comparable to Edgar’s and in Larry’s case better across the board, while playing a position. I don’t think you’d consider Larry Walker a HOFer, he certainly wouldn’t be in your top 10 OF’s of the generation, maybe not even top 20 but as a hitter he was better than Edgar Martinez. Larry Walker had a higher BA, more RBI, more HR, more runs scored and that was with around 300 fewer AB’s while playing a position! Edgar was a good player, I wouldn’t say great, but if you’re going to put a DH in the HOF then he better be hands down one of the top 10 hitters of a generation and with contemporaries the likes of Griffey Jr., Bonds, Gwynn, hell even Larry Walker, I can’t say he belongs!

  8. Big Shooter - Dec 29, 2009 at 5:08 PM

    So a guy that only gets 4 or 5 at bats a game is less important than a guy that only pitches 4 or 5 outs? or starting pitchers, who “are on the field “for far more outs” EVERY 5TH GAME? the point I was making is this: don’t discount the fact that DH’s don’t play in the field unless you are going to discount the fact that pitchers only play one side of the game as well. I would not discount any of them, and thats the point I was making. The DH is a specialized position, just like closers and releivers.
    No question Rivera and Johnson are HOF players. I don’t know if Larry Walker is or isn’t, never came to mind and wasn’t the topic. Top 10 hitters of his generation… list them, Edgar (and Walker probably) will be in there, if not top 10 then close.

  9. Ron - Dec 29, 2009 at 7:43 PM

    Someone who had Edgar’s hitting stats and was a total liability in the field would be voted in to the HOF in a heartbeat, and the arguement would be “He was an incredible hitter, his fielding stats don’t matter.” So why exclude Edgar just because he has no fielding stats at ALL? Would you rather have a terrible fielder than one who simply doesn’t field?

  10. Ron - Dec 29, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    Don’t pitchers in the A.L. only play half the game? I don’t hear anyone saying they shouldn’t be in the HOF since they don’t help their team with their bats.

  11. IdahoMariner - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:01 PM

    I know your comment has already been replied to, but, seriously? Edgar is NOT those guys.

  12. IdahoMariner - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:12 PM

    I’m sorry, I’ve got to get back to work so I don’t have time to read every comment (but I of course have time to comment, sigh)…but why “a discount” Craig? I am a HUGE fan of defense, and am nearly giddy that my favorite team now has management that actually values defense (I am still nursing my wounds from when they dropped boonie because of his batting slump to make way for Lopez. I miss Boonie’s Defense. I can’t stand to watch Lopez half-heartedly wave at balls as they fly by him, in some sort of misguided homage to Yuni Betancourt). But, echoing at least one comment I saw — no one ever looks at a pitcher’s offense, no one complains about how pitchers don’t add bupkus to their teams’ offense, they just look to the relevant stats for that position. And for his position, Edgar was it. Is it. Like the post I read in CTB just before I got to this post(can’t remember who wrote it) about how much better than his peers Larkin was — it’s how good that guy was at his position. Evaluate him honestly, and not at a discount. How about the writers evaluate the players who provide both offense and defense at a premium?

  13. William Miller - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:43 PM

    +6 errors so far,Jim Bartlett-ruzziuto,Jenn-pposition,ck-dont,Paul in KY-Willy Wilson,andre-Alan Tramell,old timer A-Hole,McGuire,Yaztremski.Edgar Martinez get’s in the hall or not,it’s not up for me to decide.Sure,he had a good-fair carreer,but he got 2nd best or 3rd best by Ken Griffey,Jr when he was in Seattle.It’s either Jay Buhner or Edgar Martinez.1 or the other.It was mostly Ken Griffey,Jr,but not all the time.Sometime’s,it was other player’s from other team’s that made the highlight reel.Do you even remember the O.J. Simpson trial? That was 16 year’s ago.Can you even remember the San Fransisco earthquake back in 1989? That was about 20 year’s ago.It started in October,that’s why I say about,it was only 3 month’s from 1990,and here we are,2009,almost 2010.It’s funny how history can repeat itself.No,we did not have another earthquake,I’d hate to have 1 here in Illinois.Although,it has happened.But,getting back to the whole Edgar Martinez thing,if he get’s in,that’s just fine.But,if he’s not voted in,he will have to wait another year.When time is up after 15 year’s,that year will be 2024.And,if he can’t get in to the Hall Of Fame,oh well.There are better things in life.Like not getting arrested and thing’s like that.

  14. William Miller - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:00 PM

    Sure,I made a few errors,so what?

  15. IdahoMariner - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:02 PM

    I was buzzing back here to talk up David Schoenfield’s excellent article over on espn (I suck at doing the link thing, but here’s the URL: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hof10/news/story?id=4755544 (that’s the right word for that, right?))
    but then I read william miller’s post…wow. I only got two hours of sleep last night because I have to cover my kid’s holiday childcare but still get all my work done so I was up till 5 am writing a brief and I will probably be at it again tonight…William writes like my head feels.

  16. david gordon - Dec 30, 2009 at 10:51 AM

    What about Harold Baines. No one has mentioned him and i believe he has comparable if not superior stats compared to Edgar Martinez. Why does no one mention him.

  17. Detroit Michael - Dec 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM

    David Gordon,
    Harold Baines has higher counting statistics but look at the table in the article to which Craig linked in the section titled “Comparing Edgar to Other DHs.” There you will find that considering years in which players were primarily DHs, Edgar Martinez had 7 out of the top 20 seasons and Baines had none.
    Craig,
    Thanks for commenting on the article.
    — Michael Weddell (Detroit Michael)

  18. JBP - Dec 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    That is a dumb question. You’ve got to be crazy not to vote this baseball assasin into the hall. This man exemplify what the DH is suppose to do in reference to produvtion year in, year out. Stop messing around: VOTE HIM IN………VOTE HIM IN…..VOTE HIM IN. UNANIMOUS.

  19. Roddog007 - Dec 30, 2009 at 7:10 PM

    Don’t get me wrong but you got it right!
    I loved to watch Edgar swat that ball. As a mariner fan I watched all of Edgar’s years in Seattle. The Mariners best years to boot. I am a baseball fan first, and must be true to the game. I think the man was royed out, and there is no place for that in the hall.

  20. Roddog007 - Dec 30, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    Get your head out of your butt Bro.
    Edgar was full of royds. He will confess in his tell all book after he get’s enshrined.

  21. Michael Sisson - Dec 30, 2009 at 10:24 PM

    Too much other stuff for you has clouded your judgement.
    Edgar had true skill! He would never have done royds (unlike so many of his fellow Mariners).

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