Crunching the numbers on Edgar’s Hall of Fame future

Rangers v MarinersSome thoughts on today’s Hall of Fame voting in regard to Edgar Martinez’s long-term chances:

I originally thought Martinez might drop a little more in this year’s balloting (he wound up at 35.9 percent after earning 36.5 percent last year) because of the influx of first-time eligibles like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio. But in hindsight, enough voters chose to keep Bonds and Clemens off their ballots this year that it didn’t dramatically affect Edgar.

Turns out, there wasn’t a lot of movement anywhere among the 13 players who returned from last year’s ballot. Dale Murphy, in his last year of eligibility, got the biggest raise of plus 4.1 percent.

Jeff Bagwell went up 3.6 percent, Tim Raines 3.5 and Jack Morris 1.0 percent. That was it. The rest of the returners dropped, with Edgar actually moving down the least of the nine on the negative side.

But what happens next? I went through the 108 ballots that have been publicly disclosed so far by the BBWAA and did some math. Of the 44 who voted for Martinez in that group, only 21 also voted for Bonds and Clemens.

So my fear now, as a Martinez supporter, is that many voters who left Bonds and Clemens off this year will switch next year, acknowledging they were indeed Hall of Fame players, yet just not worthy of first-year induction due to their PED implications.

With the additional influx of next year’s class — which includes Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent — it’s not hard to imagine Martinez getting bumped off a lot of ballots at that point.

He finished 10th this year and everyone ahead of him will be eligible again next year. There’ll likely be a strong push to get Morris into the Hall in his 15th and final year of eligibility next year. There’ll surely be strong support for Maddux, Glavine and Thomas. Craig Biggio, who was the closest to being elected this year in his first shot at 68.2 percent, will almost certainly get bumped over the 75 percent mark next year.

Another factor to consider: Martinez generally gained most of his support from writers who voted for a large number of players. Voters can put a maximum of 10 players on their ballots, but some feel far fewer are Hall of Fame worthy. Five voters submitted empty ballots this season. Several voted for just one player.

Among the voters who went public with the BBWAA so far, those who supported Martinez averaged 7.89 players on their ballots. Those who didn’t include him voted for 6.19 players. Why does that matter?

Because next year, when at least five more Hall-worthy candidates flood the ballot, those who included Martinez this year are going to have a tougher time squeezing him in again. And the following year, when Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield come aboard? Yikes.

The logjam can be relieved somewhat by players actually getting elected, of course. In the past two years, only Barry Larkin has made it in. Without question, that number will increase in the next few years.

But only once in the past 22 years have three players made it in the same class — 1999 when Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount got the call. The system doesn’t allow for much more than that, given the 75-percent requirement. Now with the PED question splitting the voters on guys who normally would be sure-fire nominees, the numbers are going to get divided even more than normal.

For his part, Martinez isn’t sweating it.

“It’s a system that’s been in place for many years and it’s worked great,” he told me today. “It’s a very exclusive group, very difficult to get in, and I’m aware of that. So I just take a very realistic view of the situation.”

Here’s my full story today on Martinez’s reaction to the vote, including an update on what he’s doing these days and his thoughts on the steroid controversy.

Martinez certainly hasn’t given up on making the Hall, though he notes it’s clearly going to be a very long process if he is going to get elected. I’m starting to think his odds are growing longer, given the reasons mentioned above.

Without question, the Big Unit will get in first when his name pops up in 2015 and Griffey seems a slam-dunk candidate in 2016. Ichiro figures to be a pretty sure thing, though that one remains far off given he just signed a two-year deal with the Yankees.

But Edgar? That’s looking like a tough one, unless something changes dramatically in the minds of voters that lets him make solid gains in the upcoming years.

1 Comment

Edgar seems to me to be in about the same predicament Gil Hodges was in, and he never made the Hall. BTW, thank you for your great insights and great all-around reporting.

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