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Is Edgar Martinez is a Hall of Famer?

Dec 29, 2009, 8:58 AM EDT

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. YANKEES1996 - Dec 29, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    Is Edgar Martinez a Hall of Famer? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!
    Look at his career numbers they are more than respectable and Dusty Baker once said that he was one of the best right handed hitters he had ever seen!

  2. jim bartlett - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:25 AM

    Martinez is a hall of famer. If you put in Aparicio, smith, fox, ruzziuto, reesse, all no hit great field, All they did to get in was field. Then if martinez played DH most of his career he should be there. A lifetime .312 aversge is not easy to do.

  3. ecp - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    Disagree…When it comes to players who were primarily DHs, there is no need to have a conversation on the subject of “how much does defense matter” in Hall of Fame consideration. There is no defensive standard for DHs, nor should there be. Any discussion on the subject would actually be a thinly veiled debate of the merits of the designated hitter rule, and its possible elimination – something that does not belong in Hall of Fame voting. Like it or not, the DH is here, it’s been here for 35 years, and those whose careers have largely been spent at that position should not be penalized or have their HOF credentials scrutinized unfairly because of it.

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    ECP: I disagree with the notion that each position should be evaluated in a vacuum. Why should their be, say, the same number of closers in the Hall of Fame when shortstops and outfielders are more important? What about setup men? Someone is the best setup man of all time, right? Should he be in the Hall? Loogys? Pinch hitters?
    My thinking here is that the ultimate question should be at least softly centered around the value a player brings to the teams on which he played. No matter what you think of the DH rule, there’s no escaping the fact that, over the course of his career, a player who plays anything but the most terrible defense will contribute more to his teams than did a player with identical offensive stats who DH’d.
    Shouldn’t there be some discount for that?

  5. ck - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    They need to decide. If they can keep out someone that played the game at a high level for many years, clearly one of the all time greats of his position. Then make them come out and SAY it. Put it in the RULES that says no dh will ever be considered as we dont think they should be.
    I hear ever year the same nonsense about punters in the NFL. Ray Guy is considered the best to ever play the position. Yet gets no sniff of the prize. If it is a position in the game then they should have equal consideration for enshrinement. Period. Anyone that doesn’t get that should have thier vote taken away.

  6. NICK THE GREEK - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    Edgar Martinez belongs in the hall of fame as much as Jose Canseco, McGwire, Sosa, Manny Rameriz, Ortiz, Arod………………..

  7. (Not That) Tom - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    “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'”
    Yet people have no qualms about putting in a one-inning reliever. Strange.

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 29, 2009 at 10:55 AM

    CK — I don’t think they need to decide anything. A DH is obviously eligible and should be. The question is do you discount for the fact that he never wore a glove.
    My worry is that writers will impose a defacto-disqualification and never really consider a DH, while others will fail to acknowledge that a DH, in and of himself provides no defensive value and thus maybe should meet a slightly higher offensive threshhold than other hitters typically do.

  9. Josh - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    This should be a fun debate. I agree mostly with what you say. I wouldn’t mind if they make him wait to allow some time for this debate to continue. I think a fair comparison of a DH is to that of a closer. Closers pitch 1-2 innings (more back in the older days). They provide no offensive value. Can the DH not be compared in the same way? Appear 3-4 innings in a game but no defensive value.

  10. David T - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    The question that should be asked is whether he was a dominant player at his position during his era. The answer to that question is “Yes”

  11. Oldtimer - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    Martinez was a great hitter. No denying it. My problem is that if anyone were to consider him for the Hall of Fame, they should first have elected Hal McRae. He was one of the most dominant hitters of his generation. He helped put Brett in the HOF and has received little or no recognition, just because he was unlucky enough to play in Kansas City. He was statistically inferior to many others, but no one who has ever played the game played harder, or had more impact in the games he played than Hal. He single-handedly made the Royals a contender, by his win at all cost approach. I personally feel he was more responsible for the ascension of the Royals than Brett was.
    I am beginning to think that the HOF is a joke anyway, too much homer bias from the writers who elect them. As soon as they elect anyone who is known to have used steroids, I’m through with MLB.

  12. hoggy doggy - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    Whoa there Nick. Why do you put Edgar in that same group? Edgar was a clean, honorable, classy player, unlike the lot you put him in with. Dude, get yer head outa yer …..

  13. Char-in-Miani - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    i’m sorry to say that though i’ve followed baseball for over 40 years, i’m not that familiar with edgar martinez. perhaps i’m too much of a yankee fan.
    but any team member that contributes to their team’s wins over the course of their careers should be recognized and eligible for HOF consideration.
    matsui played in the outfield for the yankees for several years and when his knees/legs gave out, became the dh. are you going to eliminate him from consideration in getting in? as was said above, the dh has been in use for over 30 years. if a man can make his career as a dh, and has the stats to go with it, why exclude him?

  14. Ron - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:37 AM

    Preach on, Oldtimer. Speak the truth.

  15. Jenn - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    I feel that every Hall of Fame candidate needs to be judged on the pposition they played, no matter what league or anything like that. Edgar played his position of DH the best that anyone could have played it…He has been number one in my book since I started watching him in the mid-90’s. He deserves to be i the Hall of Fame…there’s not another DH that has numbers even close to his…

  16. YANKEES1996 - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    It should not matter if the player makes his contribution to the team with his glove or bat. If the player makes contributions to the team at a high level then he is worthy of consideration for the ultimate honor. Edgar Martinez was a hitter that was capable of carrying his team offensively from the DH spot and lets face it he was not the worst defensive first baseman in history. If the DH is going to be used then the men that play the position should be considered for the HOF. Men like Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are going to or have been considered for the HOF, you should not dismiss the men who played the position of DH from consideration for the Hall just because he was a specialist, and that is what Edgar Martinez was a specialized hitter who was extremely successful and a true asset to his team.

  17. Paul in KY - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    Since ‘DH’ is now a legit position in baseball, I think a worthy DH ought to be elected sometime. Mr. Martinez is as good a candidate as any. Great clutch hitter.
    Pro football needs to put in a punter & baseball needs to put in a DH.
    I do not think he should go in 1st year, however. He wasn’t that good for that long to get 1st ballot recognition, IMO.

  18. Paul in KY - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    I also think Hal McRae is a worthy candidate for the Hall. Another great clutch hitter. Willy Wilson is another old Royal who should be considered.

  19. J. McCann - Dec 29, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    I would rather have a player who could hit at DH (which many players can’t handle well) over a poor defensive 1B who insists on playing the field.

  20. ecp - Dec 29, 2009 at 12:04 PM

    There shouldn’t be the same number of closers as shortstops or outfielders, nor should every position be evaluated in a vacuum. And my point isn’t as granular as you think. For example, I’m not getting down to the level of LOOGYs vs setup men. That’s not my point. My point is that there should be no defensive standard for those who don’t play defense. It’s not like it’s without precedent: I don’t think much of anybody looks at a pitcher’s defense when filling out their Hall of Fame ballots. Maybe you’ll think that’s comparing apples and oranges; I happen to think that comparing DHs to position players is also comparing apples to oranges.
    I do agree that there should be some consideration for the value a player brings to his team, but I don’t think it’s necessarily true that “a player who plays anything but the most terrrible defense will contribute more to his teams than did a player whith identical offensive stats who DH’d.” Using Edgar Martinez as an example, he ranks 66th all time in WAR – higher than such HOF position players as Eddie Murray, Pee Wee Reese, Willie McCovey, Ozzie Smith…I could go on. Considering that WAR includes defense, that ain’t bad.
    Ah well, likely we’ll just amicably agree to disagree here.

  21. YANKEES1996 - Dec 29, 2009 at 12:42 PM

    You have been a baseball fan for 40 years and you do not know who Edgar Martinez is?, oh you meant Little League Baseball. I am DIEHARD Yankees fan for over 40 years (well over!) and I can tell you who Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Ken Griffey Jr are.
    I am a fan of Godzilla (Matsui) as well but he does not come close as a candidate for the HOF, when he retires.

  22. pujarteago - Dec 29, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    What are you talking about char in mianui!!!. Matsui is not a hall of famer!

  23. Mike in Marysville WA - Dec 29, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Edgar like Matsui did play several seasons in the field. He was injured in a pre-season game in Vancouver BC because of poor field maintenance. His career started as a 3rd baseman and would’ve probably ended that way if not for this unfortunate injury. Granted I am biased since I watched Edgar throughout his career in Seattle, but if you base his credentials on his career numbers then he certainly does deserve to be in the HOF. I’m personally not a big fan of the DH, however the position exists and should be considered for inclusion. To penalize a player with numbers like his simply because you don’t like the position he played is unfair.

  24. Jason - Dec 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    There should be no DH only players for one reason. They only played half the game. The question is not did Edgar have comparable numbers to his HOF peers, he does. He got them without fighting the nagging injuries that come from playing the WHOLE game of baseball. How good would his numbers been if he had the pulled hamstrings, jammed fingers and sore shoulders that postion players deal with? How good would have his numbers been if he spent half of practice time building the skills necessary to be servicable in a position?

  25. LiveInHoth - Dec 29, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    As a suffering Mariner’s fan growing up I couldn’t believe all the Jokers the Mariners played over the years while they kept Edgar in the minors for a decade. He is a hall of famer to me.

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