"Another Blog on the Fire" Michael Dashiell
Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Dashiell (that's me) is editor of the Sequim Gazette. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Western Washington University, has worked at the Sequim Gazette for about 10 years and enjoys writing — occasionally. He and his wife Patsene live in Sequim; their two daughters are in college. He will write about anything, but particularly enjoys sports, arts, breaking news and news-of-the-weird. He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.
Edgar Martinez, in his first year of eligibility, didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame. No, it’s not a travesty, but it’s not right either, and hopefully sports writers will get a brain some day and put the guy in.
I’ve been reading a lot of the national and regional columns about the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame election. Most national writers were explaining why Andre Dawson and Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin should get in, why Edgar Martinez and Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines should not.
Dawson was the only one elected yesterday, much to the chagrin of many hardball fans.
I’m surprised Alomar didn’t get the nod. Here’s a guy who played great defense (10 gold gloves in an 11-year span), could hit the ball really well (lifetime .300 hitter, more than 2,700 this and 200 home runs), had speed (474 steals lifetime) and won where he went (two World Series rings, seven postseasons).
I guess that wasn’t quite great enough.
As for Edgar, well, I don’t think a lot of folks were surprised when he didn’t get near the 75 percent required to get a ‘Hall’ pass. He got a little more than 35 percent.
There are many arguments about why he should go. I explained my reasons for electing him in an earlier blog, but I’ll mull over a few more here.
The gist of the argument against Edgar’s induction that he didn’t put up huge numbers, that he and other designated hitters don’t play the whole game, and that he didn’t tally any World Series rings or win an MVP.
First off, Edgar was a great hitter. His numbers are fantastic for the 13 years they let him play. I write that because he didn’t get the starting gig at third base until he was 27, for some reason.
He hit for power, for average and in the clutch. A lifetime .312 hitter, Edgar twice won batting championships, led the league in on-base percentage three times and in doubles twice. He had one season with more than 400 at-bats in which he didn’t hit .300. That was 2003, and he hit .294. That year, he was named an all-star and won a Silver Slugger award.
He’s the best designated hitter of all-time. The freaking award is named after him. Simply the best. For some, that’s not good enough, and I’ve read enough in the last few days to synthesize most of their arguments, most of which are valid.
No MVP on the resume
He didn’t win an MVP. Okay, let’s take a look at 1995, the season he took third in the balloting. He finished behind Mo Vaughn and Albert Belle. Edgar scored as many runs as Belle and more than Vaughn. He led the league in hitting at .356 and had a better OPS number — on-base plus slugging — than either, a better indication of who the better hitter was. Vaughn played first base and Belle was a bad outfielder, so I don’t think defense put them over the top.
That year, Edgar saved baseball in Seattle. Not sure how you can put THAT into a statistic, but even with Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson on the team, no way does Seattle get into the playoffs, beat the Yankees and magically keep a team here that seemed destined to get shipped away.
In 2000, ‘Gar finished sixth behind four impressive sluggers (Giambi, the Big Hurt, A-Rod and Carlos Delgado) and Pedro Martinez.
In 1992, Edgar won the batting title … and finished 12th. Seriously??? Mike Devereaux and Carlos Baerga were both better than Edgar that year? Really?
In 1996, Edgar hit .327 with 52 doubles, 26 home runs and an OPS of 1.059.
In 1998, he hit .322 with 29 home runs, 46 doubles and led the lead in OBP.
In 1999, he hit .337, led the league again in OBP and posted an OPS above 1.000 again.
In those three years, he did not receive a single MVP vote. Seriously?????????????
So I’m thinking that all those folks who say Edgar didn’t get the recognition he deserved may be right. In fact, they’re dead-on.
Linked with the steroids era
He’s a problem: Edgar, as far as we know, has never been implicated in the steroids issue. Ever. But the baseball culture at the time promoted buys like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzales, Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti and the like.
If he wasn’t using, he’s absolutely NOT going to have the kind of numbers they do, because they are CHEATING is he isn’t.
So if we wipe out every know cheater from those times, Edgar looks better. If we could wipe out every cheater we don’t know about, Edgar is a lock based on numbers alone, designated hitter or not.
‘Only’ a designated hitter
Edgar didn’t play in the field. Well, not for very long. One, not his fault. Two designated hitter is more of a position than relief pitcher, so if you vote closers in (which they have and I do support) than you have to at least consider the DHers.
Frankly, Edgar’s been the only DH to have the kind of career to make him Hall-worthy. Frank Thomas played it a bunch at the end of his career but no one is looking at his fielding when considering him for the Hall.
Some folks say he wasn’t good enough for long enough. That argument runs dry when you consider the support Kirby Puckett got (a 12-year career shortened by injury) and the lack of it that Dale Murphy, Tommy John and the like.
Did he win a World Series ring? Nope. Well, neither did Ken Griffey Jr., the best non-roider of our generation, and he didn’t get one. Neither did A-rod, until the Yankees bought one last year for him. Neither did Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, Tony Gwynn, Ryne Sandberg or Carlton Fisk, to name a few.
But Devon White has three World Series rings. Randy Bush, Greg Gagne, Pat Borders and Al Newman each have two. Why? Because they were on great teams! Edgar wasn’t, at least not on one that had enough pitching to get there. End of story.
A great, feared hitter
Here’s the thing: Edgar was a great hitter, a feared hitter and a key component in the clubhouse. Did he have 500 home runs? No. But I’d rather have 309 real home runs than 760 fake ones, Mr. Bonds.
Did he get 3,000 hits? Nope, he got 2,247 in the majors. He also got 677 in the minors while he waited for a spot to open up behind Jim Presley (?), despite hitting the crap out of the ball for 5-6 years. Add those two together and he’s got 2,924 hits. If he’d labored around like Wade Boggs, a HOFer, he’d have gotten 3,000.
Did he play the field well? Nope. He didn’t earn a single gold glove. But I don’t knock him for getting put there so we could get Tino Martinez and John Olerud at first base.
Vin Scully, the great broadcaster, once said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”
My question is: Was he respected as a ball player? Very much so. Ask managers, opposing players, teammates and writers who actually saw him play. Across the board, the answer is yes, and not just for a couple of seasons. I don’t hear that kind of fervor for Albert Belle and Juan Gonzales or for Sosa and McGwire, for that matter.
The man behind the bat
The last argument I heard that really got to me was that some folks insisted Edgar’s humanitarian efforts should help his cause for induction.
“Last time I saw,” one agitator wrote, “a player’s efforts outside of baseball have never been a consideration of Hall of Fame worthiness.”
Really? Then we should really get Shoeless Joe Jackson and Peter Rose into the Hall right now. If there’s anything that screams Hall worthiness, it’s how someone does handle themselves outside the field. We’re not blind anymore. The culture has changed, and what players do outside the park reflects on their fame, i.e. the Hall of “Fame,” not the Hall of “Great Player Who Did Crack, Abused His Family Members and Did Time But That’s Okay We’ll Look the Other Way.”
Edgar was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing) in 2007. He spends countless hours, funds, resources and contributions that he and his wife Holli have made available to Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle — including the Edgar Martinez Endowment for Muscular Dystrophy Research, established by the Mariners in honor of his retirement. He has also helped to generate more then $500,000 for Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.
For his community service he was voted in 2004 to receive the Roberto Clemente Award as the player who best combines outstanding baseball skills with devoted work in the community.
Frankly, if we knew then all we know now about Ty Cobb, we’d still elect him into the Hall of Fame. But I’d bet my meager salary that there’d be a few who didn’t vote for him. We still let racists, criminals and owners who colluded against their own players into the Hall.
Then again, maybe Edgar doesn’t belong there. He might be too good.