Edgar Martinez Is NOT a Hall of Famer

Edgar Martinez Is NOT a Hall of Famer

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Edgar Martinez
Rod Mar, The Seattle Times (1995)

The votes have been cast, and the envelopes mailed out. There’s no going back now.

Soon we will all know the results of this year’s election into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Given the attention the ballots have garnered in recent years, this is sure to be a polarizing reveal.

Some players will get in, most will not. And there will be significant outrage on both sides, for players who are elected, and for those who are left out in the cold.

So, without further delay, let the outrage begin.

Edgar Martinez does NOT belong in the Hall of Fame.

After studying the statistics, and reading the accounts of those who watched him play and those who played against him, I sill come away unconvinced that Edgar Martinez is one of the greatest baseball players to ever take the field.

Because that’s what the Hall of Fame is for, the best of the best, the greatest to ever play. It’s not for players who excel, even significantly, at one aspect without revolutionizing the game.

It is not for players who shine brightly for a short time and then disappear.  Unless, of course, their time in the spotlight is so dominant their longevity doesn’t matter.

It is why Sandy Koufax is a revered inner-circle Hall of Famer, and Johan Santana never will be.  It is why even if Clayton Kershaw never throws another pitch he’s a first-ballot lock for the Hall of Fame.

And position players face an even steeper climb for Cooperstown.

Mike Trout has had what many consider to be the best start to a career for any player, and yet he would have difficulty getting elected if his career ended today.  He’d likely get in, but not of the first ballot.

And with Trout we are talking about a player who has the potential to go down as one of the top five players in history, not just a very good hitter in an era of offensive explosion.

Edgar Martinez is not that, not even in the conversation.

He was a terrific hitter, one of the best of his era, and may have changed how the Designated Hitter position is viewed.  Or at least he brought its worthiness more mainstream.

But that doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer.

Nor does his .300+/.400+/.500+ slash line that has only been achieved by a small percentage of players, and only bettered by a very select few.

With modern statistics there are many ways of measuring player value, not just what they do with the bat.  Defense and base-running are also highly valued, and Martinez gave nothing on defense and very little on the bases.

A DH Needs To DOMINATE For Election

Was Edgar Martinez’s prowess with the bat so enormous that it should overcome his shortcomings?

Well, let me pose it this way…are two hits (low-leverage, no-impact mid-game singles) and one walk per month enough of a difference to justify the shortcomings in the field and as a base-runner?

If it’s not, why then does Scott Rolen not garner as much Hall of Fame-attention as Edgar Martinez?

Their career numbers are eerily similar.

They played practically the same amount of games, have almost equal number of plate appearances, extra base hits, home runs, runs scored, etc.

The difference between is that Martinez reached based roughly 17 times (12 singles, 5 walks) more per year than Rolen did.

However, Scott Rolen was also one of the best defensive third baseman who ever played, earning eight Gold Gloves in his career.  The base-running metrics also grade him far better as well.

He also edges out Martinez in career WAR (70.1 to 65.5 according to Fangraphs).

Fangraphs calculates a player’s overall value, offensively and defensively.

Martinez was valued at 500.8 from an offensive standpoint, and -133.5 defensively.

Rolen, less imposing offensively (256.2) more than made up for it with his glove (182.2), giving him a 71.1 higher overall value than Martinez.

Scott Rolen was a better all-around player than Edgar

Scott Rolen
(Jonathan Daniel, SBNation)

Martinez, but very few are clamoring for his induction into Cooperstown they way they are Martinez’s.

 

It leads one to believe that Martinez only generates so much attention because he was just a DH, and there is a need to prove it’s a Hall of Fame-worthy position.

Not playing half the game shouldn’t be criteria enough to enter baseball’s most sacred institution.

In any case, Edgar Martinez is likely to receive a plaque in Cooperstown, but he’s still not a deserving Hall of Famer.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. How do you say they are similar offensive players and then show a fangraph stat where Edgar is almost 2x as good offensively?

    “It leads one to believe that Martinez only generates so much attention because he was just a DH, and there is a need to prove it’s a Hall of Fame-worthy position” Yeah he wouldn’t get the attention if he wasn’t a DH because he would be an obvious HOFer if he wasn’t.

    Also, you had Edgar’s WAR wrong. It’s 68.3, not 65.5 (baseball reference). So, it is less than 2 WAR below Rolen, even though Rolen was, according to you, “one of the best defensive 3rd basemen to ever play”. Yet, you still think their career numbers are similar.

    I definitely have a bias towards Edgar, but a Rolen comparison doesn’t make a lot of sense as to why he shouldn’t be in Cooperstown. Edgar’s OBP ranks closer to players like Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth than it does to Rolen.

    “It is not for players who shine brightly for a short time and then disappear” is a line that shouldn’t show up in an argument as to why an 18 yr. vet shouldn’t get HOF recognition.

    Looking at Edgar’s stats, I have trouble understanding how people deem his career unworthy of the Hall. Trout has had an electric start to his career, as you mentioned, but his OBP still doesn’t match Edgar’s, and he did it for nearly 2 decades. I understand arguments that try to show players have missed out on the HOF who are comparable to Martinez, mainly due to the questionable selection process, but suggesting “he’s not a deserving Hall of Famer” is just absurd.

    If relief pitchers can get a spot in Cooperstown, then the namesake for the DH award should be a no-brainer.