It’s Hall of Fame voting season, one of the best times of the year. Voting is going on now and the results are announced on January 22nd.
It’s also my last year to campaign for who I think should definitely be in Cooperstown – Mariners legend and the originator of the modern designated hitter, Edgar Martinez.
Of his 2,055 career games played, 592 were played in the field, so the main argument against Martinez is valid. When you only hit for 75 percent of your career without playing the field, that puts your numbers below players who both hit and fielded their entire careers.
With that in mind, let’s actually look at Edgar’s career, and it starts out with his splits. In his 18-year career, Martinez had a .312/.418/.515 spit and .933 OPS, which is very good. His .933 OPS is 33rd all-time.
On top of that, Martinez led the league in average twice and on-base percentage three times, including his .479 OPS in 1995, arguably his best season.
In 1995, Martinez finished third in the AL MVP race, almost leading the AL in average, on-base, OPS, slugging and OPS+. He finished second in slugging, but had a .356/.479/.628/1.107 split and 185 OPS+, leading the league in runs (121) and doubles (52). He also hit 29 home runs and drove in 113 with 182 hits and 116 walks compared to 87 strikeouts.
That season, the Mariners made their improbable run to the ALCS, defeating the Yankees in the ALDS thanks to a walk-off double in the 11th inning of Game Five, courtesy of Edgar Martinez.
There were many stars on that Mariners team: Jay Buhner, who hit 40 home runs; Tino Martinez, who had an OPS+ of 135 with 31 home runs; 111 RBI and a .293/.369/.551 split and Cy Young winner Randy Johnson, who went 18-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 193 ERA+.
Ken Griffey Jr. was on that team too, but injuries limited him to 72 games, even though he was around by the postseason. However, of all those players, Martinez was the lifeblood of the team. He was the heart and soul of those Mariners, who at the time, were on the verge of possibly moving.
That team and that run killed all of those rumors, and Martinez was the focal point of that run, starting with his grand slam on Game 4 to break a 6-6 tie in the eighth inning.
It wasn’t just 1995. Martinez finished with over 2,200 hits and was one of the most feared hitters in the AL during his prime. It wasn’t just that Martinez could hit for power. He was a pure hitter. He excelled at reaching base, finishing with more career walks than strikeouts and is 21st all-time in career OBP, just above Stan Musial.
Also, 309 home runs isn’t too shabby, not to mention his 514 doubles, averaging 41 doubles per season. His 147 OPS+ is tied for 41st all-time with five other people, all Hall of Famers (Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Jim Thome, Sam Thompson and Willie Stargell).
If there’s a current competition for Martinez, it’s Joey Votto, who will be a Hall of Famer with a few more years under his belt and about 800 more hits. I think that’s well within his grasp, but his career slashline right now is .311/.427/.530 with a .957 OPS and 155 OPS+.
You can’t go against the Mountie and Martinez played close enough to Canada so therefore, he’s a lock.