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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

January 4, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Edgar’s deserving, but he faces tough road to Cooperstown

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(Seattle Times staff photo by Dean Rutz)

Edgar Martinez, unfortunately, is not going to make the Hall of Fame when the 2011 balloting is announced Wednesday (the results will be revealed at 11 a.m., Pacific time, bbwaa.com, baseballhall.org, MLB.com and the MLB Network).

Martinez, in his second year on the ballot, is not going to jump from 36.2 percent, which was his solid showing last year, to the necessary 75 percent level. It just doesn’t happen like that. As I wrote last year, Edgar’s best hope is to make a gradual, incremental climb, much like Andre Dawson and Jim Rice did.

I’m very interested to see how much of a jump — if any — Edgar makes in his second year. At the moment, there are none of what you would call “slam dunk” candidates on the ballot — first-ballot no brainers like Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn or Nolan Ryan — but there are loads of interesting players for whom you can build a Hall of Fame argument. In going over the ballot, there are least 19 players who at least make you stop and think. I’m afraid Edgar could get lost in the shuffle, which would be a shame.

Although I strongly believe Edgar Martinez belongs in the Hall of Fame, it would be disingenuous to call him a slam-dunk candidate. That’s why 64 percent of the voters last year didn’t check his name. Geoff does an extremely thorough job of laying out the anti-Martinez argument today. I wish commenters would lay off the venom. Even if you disagree with his conclusion, it’s a perfectly valid stance to take.Tom Verducci of SI, among others, came down in the same camp today. Just because he covers the Mariners, he’s under no obligation to vote for Martinez if he doesn’t think he’s worthy.

I simply have a fundamental disagreement: I feel that Edgar’s statistics are compelling enough to offset whatever detriment you might feel attaches to being a DH for the bulk of his career. Yes, he’s lacking on the counting stats, but his “rate stats” are Hall of Fame caliber — decisively, in my opinion. They’re demonstrably better, for instance, then Paul Molitor, who got in (deservedly) on the first ballot largely on the basis of his 3,000 hits — which he achieved primarily by being a DH at the end of his career.

And if you look at WAR, which aready has a built-in penalty for being a DH, Martinez still ranks ahead of Hall of Famers like Yogi Berra, Willie Stargell, Ozzie Smith, Lou Boudreau, Billy Williams, Hank Greenberg, Tony Perez and Dave Winfield, among others.

One of the stats I keep coming back to with Edgar is the career line of .312 average, .418 on-base percentage, and .515 slugging percentage. Of the 20 players who have a career .300-.400-.500 line, 11 of the 12 eligible for the Hall of Fame are in (the lone exception being Lefty O’Doul, who should be in). They are: Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Tris Speaker, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Harry Heilmann, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Jimmie Fox, Hank Greenberg and Mel Ott. The others, besides Martinez, are Albert Pujols (first ballot), Frank Thomas (first ballot), Manny Ramirez (first ballot, if not for steroids issue), Todd Helton (the Coors factor could keep him out) and Chipper Jones (strong Hall of Fame case).

There are a litany of other qualifications for Martinez, many of which are eloquently laid out here and here and here.

In the end, each voter will have to come to terms with the DH issue in their own way. In the meantime, I’ll keep beating the drums for Edgar Martinez.

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