Edgar 10th among Hall of Fame voting at 35.9 percent

Minnesota Twins v Seattle MarinersIn a year when controversy and questions swirled around the National Baseball Hall of Fame process, former Mariners great Edgar Martinez held steady at 35.9 percent of the vote Wednesday in his fourth year on the ballot.

Martinez, who turned 50 last week, fell well short of the required 75 percent for nomination, but his support remained consistent as he was named on 204 ballots among the 569 cast by eligible Baseball Writer’s Association of America voters.

Martinez was named by 36.2 percent of the voters in 2010, 32.9 in 2011 and 36.5 last year. Players remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years, as long as they receive at least five percent of the vote.

“That’s kind of what I was expecting,” Martinez said when reached by phone at his home in Bellevue, Wash. “I was hoping it would jump a little higher, but it is what it is. I’m aware it’s going to be a process that’s going to take a while. There’s still a lot of great players coming on the ballot in the next few years, so it’s wait and see.”

While there was speculation that the arrival of first-year candidates Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa would dilute Martinez’s total this year, instead he essentially held serve while finishing 10th among vote getters, just behind Clemens (37.6 percent) and Bonds (36.2).

But the situation will get even tougher in the future, since no one on this year’s ballot wound up with the necessary votes for election for just the eighth time in MLB history. Thus the ballot will get even more crowded next year with the arrival of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, followed by Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield in 2015 and Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman in ’16.

Regarding the steroid question and no one getting elected for the first time since 1996, Martinez said it’s all “in the writer’s hands” and he understood the dilemma.

“The writers probably need more time to digest everything,” he said. “It’s just very tough to get into the Hall of Fame. With everything that’s happened in the past, writers have to digest a little longer and be comfortable with their vote. It’s going to take a little time to process.”

Martinez, who retired at the end of the 2004 season, remains an interesting figure in Hall of Fame discussions. Without question, he was one of the game’s premier right-handed hitters in his era as he won two American League batting titles, five Silver Slugger Awards, seven All-Star berths and finished in the Top 10 in AL on-base percentage 11 times.

But despite his career .312 batting average and a .418 on-base percentage that ranks 17th all-time, some voters shy away from Martinez because his career totals of 309 home runs, 2,247 hits and 1,261 RBIs were held down by his late arrival in Major League Baseball and several injury-shortened seasons. Others are reluctant to vote for a player who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter.

So Martinez will continue to wait patiently and see if support builds over time, as sometimes happens for players whose performance resonates with voters who are made more aware of the strength of their non-traditional numbers.

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