Edgar improves to 36.5 percent in HOF voting

Edgar Martinez in his farewell appearance at Safeco Field in 2004. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Former Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez received 36.5 percent of the vote in Monday’s National Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, a step forward from last year but still well shy of the needed 75 percent for election.

Martinez, who turned 49 last week, earned 36.2 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot in 2010 and 32.9 percent last year when he finished eighth among eligible players.

A candidate must receive votes from three-quarters of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters to gain election and can be on the ballot for 15 years, as long as they receive at least five percent of the votes.

Martinez received votes from 209 of the 573 BBWAA members who voted.

Barry Larkin was the lone inductee on Monday, receiving votes on 86 percent of the ballots. Voters can select up to 10 players. Martinez finished seventh among this year’s 27 candidates, behind Larkin (86.4 percent), Jack Morris (66.7), Jeff Bagwell (56.0), Lee Smith (50.6), Tim Raines (48.7) and Alan Trammell (36.8).

Martinez will thus be back on the ballot again next year for his fourth try, though competition figures to get increasingly difficult when a host of strong candidates become eligible for the first time. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa will be among the 2013 nominees.

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina and Frank Thomas hit the ballot for the first time in 2014, followed by Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield and then Ken Griffey Jr. and Andy Pettitte in 2016.

That likely means that Martinez is going to need to see his case persevere over the long haul to make any inroads, much the way Bert Blyleven finally was elected last year in his 14th time on the ballot.

That won’t be an easy task, but Martinez does have a resume that could be appreciated more as sabermetric supporters gain a larger voice in the future.

Because he didn’t become a full-time starter in the Majors until age 27, his career totals – 309 home runs, 2,247 hits and 1,261 RBIs – don’t scream out at some Hall voters. But Martinez was clearly one of the premier right-handed hitters of his time, with a .312 batting average, .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage.

The OPS+ statistic, which uses OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and adjusts it for era and home ballpark factors, is one that shows Martinez’s strength. The Puerto Rican native posted a 150 or better OPS+ in eight different seasons, something only 24 players in baseball history have achieved.

Martinez played his entire 18-year career with the Mariners and made seven All-Star teams, won five Silver Slugger Awards and two American League batting championships and commissioner Bud Selig named baseball’s annual designated hitter award after him in 2004.

Martinez joins Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig as the only players in Major League history with at least 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300 and a career on-base percentage higher than .400. That’s exclusive company and the sort of statistical grouping that his supporters cite in his Hall of Fame candidacy.

That registered with 36.5 percent of the voters in the 2011 election. Whether that number grows enough in coming years to get Martinez to Cooperstown is a question that will only be answered with time.

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