On the ballot for the eighth time since his retirement in 2004, former Mariners DH and current batting coach Edgar Martinez has again failed to generate sufficient support to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame. Needing 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America for induction, Martinez was named on 58.6 percent of the ballots in results announced Wednesday, not nearly good enough but by far his highest total.
The trend line – Martinez received just 27 percent in 2015, then 43.4 percent last year and now 58.6 percent – provides a solid base for Martinez to ultimately bust through, if not in 2018, then in 2019, his final year on the ballot.
Jeff Bagwell (86.2), Tim Raines (86.0) and Pudge Rodriguez (76.0) were elected Wednesday while Trevor Hoffman (74.0) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.0) narrowly missed. Martinez received the sixth-most votes this year.
Hoffman and Guerrero are prime candidates for election next year, as are two first-time eligibles, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. That would be a class of four in 2018.
Raines was elected Wednesday in his 10th year of eligibility. In his eighth year on the ballot (2015), Raines attracted 55 percent, less than Martinez has in his eighth year. So Martinez remains viable, but has only two years to add 16.4 percent to his voting total.
“I knew it wasn’t going to happen this year,” Martinez said via the Mariners. “It was more about seeing how much of an increase I got. Good to be heading in the right direction. It’s humbling to see the love from the fans who want me to get in. I’m almost at a loss for words.”
Martinez’s surge of15.2 percentage points, to 259 votes (191 last year) in the latest round of voting can be attributed to several factors, starting with a changing electorate in which older BWAA voters were purged and replaced by younger ones more in tune with sabermetric analysis, where Martinez shines.
The Mariners threw a lot of logs on that fire with a vigorous, persuasive blitz conducted by their information staff that specifically targeted Hall of Fame voters. Bulging with exotic statistical comparisons between Martinez and many of the Cooperstown elite, it is difficult to see Martinez as anything but a Hall of Famer.
Also, several recent inductees, including Randy Johnson (2015), Pedro Martinez (2015) and Ken Griffey Jr. (2016), plus a slam-dunk future first-ballot inductee, Mariano Rivera, have all lobbied hard on Martinez’s behalf. Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the game, said this to Charlie Rose in a TV interview:
“The only guy that I didn’t want to face, when a tough situation came up, was Edgar Martinez. It didn’t matter how I threw the ball. I couldn’t get him out. Oh my god, he had more than my number. He had my breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
As one BWAA voter described it: “That’s what you call game knows game.”
Martinez produced a career slash line of .312/.418/.515, making him one of only 18 players in history with a .300/.400/.500 line for an entire career.
In addition to Jones and Thome, next year’s first-year eligibiles will include Andruw Jones and two former Mariners, Omar Vizquel and Jamie Moyer.
Trailing Martinez in the voting: Roger Clemens (54.10), Barry Bonds (53.80), Mike Mussina (51.80) and Curt Schilling (45.00).
Three former Mariners, Mike Cameron, Carlos Guillen and Arthur Rhodes, were also on the 2017 ballot. None received a vote.
Hall of Fame Weekend is July 28-31 with the induction ceremony July 30.
This is the record of support for Martinez since he became HOF eligible in 2010:
|Year||Votes||Pct./Vote||Top 3 vote-getters by percent of vote|
|2010||195||36.2||Andre Dawson 77.9, B. Blyleven 74.2, R. Alomar 73.7|
|2011||191||32.9||Roberto Alomar 90.0, B. Blyleven 79.7, B. Larkin 62.1|
|2012||209||36.5||Barry Larkin 86.4, Jack Morris 66.7, Jeff Bagwell 56.0|
|2013||204||35.9||Craig Biggio 68,2, Jack Morris 67.7, Jeff Bagwell 59.6|
|2014||144||25.2||Greg Maddux 97.2, Tom Glavine 91.9, Frank Thomas 83.7|
|2015||148||27.0||Randy Johnson 97.3, Pedro Martinez 91.1, John Smoltz 82.9|
|2016||191||43.4||Ken Griffey Jr. 99.3, Mike Piazza 83.0, Jeff Bagwell, 71.6|
|2017||259||58.6||Jeff Bagwell 86.2, Tim Raines 86.0, Ivan Rodriguez 76.0|