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Edgar Martinez Should Not Be A Hall of Famer

Last year, when contemplating who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I ultimately determined Edgar Martinez fell short.  Ultimately, the crux of the argument was due to the scarcity of DHs even available for Hall of Fame voting, it was hard to create a standard.  As a result, Frank Thomas, the only player in the Hall of Fame who spent more time at DH than in the field became the standard upon his election.  As Edgar was not the DH Thomas was, he should fall short of election.

Since that time, the IBWAA had decided to induct Edgar in what amounts to their own straw poll, and we have seen a groundswell of support of voters to induct him into the Hall of Fame.  Whether he does in fact get elected today remains to be seen, but at a minimum, it led to rethink how to approach Edgar’s Hall of Fame candidacy.

Ultimately, I decided that since a DH is just a hitter, Edgar should be looked upon as a hitter only first.  After collecting all that information, we can then make the determination about whether he was a good enough hitter to be in the Hall of Fame based upon his hitting alone.

Magic Numbers

The Steroids Era has blurred this somewhat, but we do know that there are certain magic numbers that get you into the Hall of Fame.  On the offensive side, those numbers are 3,000 hits and 500 homers.  With respect to both, Edgar not only falls short, but he falls well short.  In fact, he “only” had 2,247 hits and 309 homers.

Considering he averaged just 125 hits a year and 17 homers a year, he was going to need another six years to get to 3,000 hits and 11 years to get to 500 homers.  So from the magic number standpoint, we know Edgar falls well short.

Lesser Known Magic Numbers

To be fair to Edgar, he was not a home run hitter, and you do not have to be a home run hitter to be a truly great offensive player.  To that end, further examination is due to determine if he has the numbers in other categories that are worthy of Hall of Fame induction. For the sake of brevity in this section, the bars set are for all players eligible for the Hall of Fame who have not been implicated by PEDs.

Runs – Putting Johnny Damonaside for the moment as he is on the ballot, every player with more runs scored than Cal Ripken, Jr.‘s 1,647 runs scored has been inducted.  Edgar only has 1,219 runs scored.

Doubles– Again Ripken is the bottom line standard with his having hit 603 doubles.  Edgar falls short of this mark with his having hit 514 doubles.

RBI– Every player with more RBI than Ernie Banks‘ 1,636 RBI is in the Hall of Fame.  What’s interesting is Harold Baines, a career DH himself, was next on the all-time RBI list with 1,628.  Edgar finished his career with 1,261 RBI.

Walks – Walks are not as forgiving a category as the others as the Hall of Fame voters have not really rewarded that as a skill, at least not to the extent of the balls in play categories.  Thomas and his 1,667 walks is the floor, and Edgar again falls well short with 1,283 walks in his career.

BA -Like Walks, batting average is a bit unforgiving with Babe Ruth and his .342 setting the low water mark.  Edgar again is well short with a .312 batting average.

OBP –  This is where Edgar’s best case is.  Everyone with a higher OBP than Dan Brouthers and his .423 OBP are in the Hall of Fame.  However, if you remove Max Bishop, who played from 1924-1935 from the equation, that number drops to Stan Musial and his .417 OBP.  With Edgar having a .418 OBP, he meets the criteria of this adjusted standard.

SLG – For this one, some allowances need to be made as Larry Walker, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero remain on the ballot.  Another factor is Albert Belle and his .565 SLG is an outlier not being good enough for induction is an outlier.  Otherwise, the bar would be Rogers Hornsby and his .577 SLG.  Making those allowances, the new mark is Ralph Kiner and his .547 SLG.  Edgar again falls short with a .515 SLG.

Looking at these numbers, Edgar misses the bottom line standard on all of them.  In reality, he misses the mark by a big margin for most of them.  If we tweak the numbers, his OBP is the only one that matches.  It’s certainly impressive, but for a player whose sole job was to go out there and hit, it is really difficult to argue that one truly elite Hall of Fame level skill is enough to merit induction.

Advanced Statistics

As time passes by, we get smarter, and we learn new and better ways to evaluate hitters other than just their traditional back of the baseball card stats.  As we know, it is easier to hit in some parks than others, and as a result, we need statistics that adjust accordingly.  For a number of factors, including their goal of synthesizing a number of park and league neutral factors to derive an overall hitter value, I decided to use OPS+ and wRC+ for an advanced statistical analysis.

OPS+ If you look at the players eligible for the Hall of Fame and not tainted by steroids, Ty Cobb and his 168 OPS+ was the lowest “magic number” mark.  You could even push it down to 163 as Jimmie Foxx had that mark, but it should be noted he is tied with Pete Browning, who was not inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Edgar falls short of this mark again with his 147 OPS+.

Now, if we were to focus solely on modern players and just focused on those players who played over the last 50 years, the OPS+ threshold doesn’t really move as Dick Allen with his 156 mark was not inducted into the Hall of Fame.  However, Willie Mays and Thomas were.  So, if we were to treat Allen like an exception, that mark would move to Willie McCovey and Mike Schmidt, whose career OPS+ is 147, which as we know is Edgar’s career mark.

If we are making a case here for Edgar, which is what we are searching to do, it should be noted by this metric alone, he is tied for 42nd on the list.

wRC+Again, Dick Allen is the major impediment here as his 155 wRC+ was not sufficient for Hall of Fame induction.  That would make Tris Speaker and his 157 wRC+ the standard bearer.  Edgar and his 147 wRC+ falls well short of that mark.

If we were to make the same allowances that were made for the OPS+ mark, the threshold would move to the 145 wRC+ posed by McCovey, Willie Stargell, and the presumed to be inducted Thome.  Edgard has a higher mark than that.

Another factor in Edgar’s favor here is his 147 wRC+ ranks 33rd best in the history of baseball.

WAR
If we are going to discuss advanced metrics, we have to discuss WAR.  In reality, the WAR required for Hall of Fame induction is a moving target.  The high water mark is the 73.9 average for starting pitchers and the 40.6 average for relievers.  Putting pitching aside, the high water mark is the 73.2 WAR average for right fielders and the 53.4 average WAR for catchers serving as the low water mark.

Certainly, Edgar falls within all of those parameters with a 68.3 career WAR.  In fact, that mark puts him tied for 112th all time.  That’s ahead of first ballot inductees like Ivan Rodriguez(68.4) and Ernie Banks (67.4).  However, it also puts Edgar behind players never inducted into the Hall of Fame like Lou Whitaker (74.9) and Bobby Grich, both of whom were five percented in their first year of the ballot and were not inducted in the most recent Veteran’s Committee vote.

Overall, Edgar is 112th, which puts him well below some Hall of Famers, but it does put him ahead of many others.  The same goes for people not in the Hall of Fame.

Revisiting The Frank Thomas Argument

As of today, the DH position has only been in existence for 44 years thereby making it the newest position in all of baseball.  In the brief history of the DH, we have seen it used in a variety of ways.  It has been used as a spot for an aging veteran, and we have seen it used for a rotating spot to give players a rest.  Of course, with players like Edgar, we have seen it go to good hitters.

As of this moment, there is only one player in the Hall of Fame who spent more time at DH than in the field.  That player was Frank Thomas.  In his career, Thomas hit .301/.419/.555 with 495 doubles, 521 homers, and 1,704 RBI.  He had a 73.7 WAR, 45.2 WAR7, and a 59.5 JAWS.  If we are looking to create a standard to induct a DH, he’s it.

Edgar falls short having a lower OBP and SLG with significantly fewer homers and RBI.  His 68.3/.43.6/56.0 all fall well short of the numbers Thomas put up.

Other Considerations

If we are going to look at Edgar just among hitters, we also need to take other things into consideration.  Despite being just a DH, which is effectively a part-time player, Edgar only played over 150 games in just three seasons.  To be fair, we should make that four with him leading the league in games played in the shortened 1995 season.  Still, he was a DH that could not stay on the field.

Despite the current narrative that Edgar is the best DH ever, he really wasn’t as Frank Thomas was.  Moreover, Edgar wasn’t recognized as such in his playing days.  During his career, Edgar only won five Silver Sluggers and made just seven All Star teams in 18 years.  I know his name is on the American League award for DHs, but that doesn’t mean he was the best DH ever or even of his era.

One other argument I’ve seen is Edgar not playing the field helped his team.  Sure, his being utilized the best possible way was a benefit to the Mariners.  However, it’s hard to argue that is was also beneficial the Mariners had players like Mike Blowers, Russ Davis, David Bell, Jeff Cirillo, and Scott Spiezio at third base.

Summation

From this analysis, it is pretty clear that if you want to make a case for Edgar Martinez as a Hall of Famer, you certainly can.  He was certainly a very good hitter in his career, and based upon what metric you chose to use, he was among the best hitters in any particular category.  However, the question ultimately is whether he was a good enough hitter that we can overlook his never really playing in the field.

For me, the answer is no.

Right now, the standard for a DH is Frank Thomas, and Edgar falls well short of that.  He also did not put up anywhere near 3,000 hits or 500 homers.  You literally have to move the floors for any other statistical category for Edgar to be above the proverbial red line.  Worse yet, he was a DH that was not able to play over 150 games a season.  That’s a problem when you’re looking to induct a one-dimensional player.

No, it won’t be a travesty when and if Edgar is elected into the Hall of Fame.  However, it will ultimately be the wrong decision.

13 thoughts on “Edgar Martinez Should Not Be A Hall of Famer”

  1. Gothamist says:

    The Jim Cavallini hiring:

    – His last jobs at UVV and Iowa was AFTER supervising Green Berets?

    -IS THERE an EXPECTED other hire, specifically a physician who will have his or her area of responsibility and who will work with Jim Cavallini?

    -Is this Cavallini’s first exposure with pro athletes?

    -Will Callahan have his back if the players are non compliant?

    -Will he supervise off season training?

    “A former strength coach at the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa, Cavallini joined the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2010. For the past three years, he has managed a team of coaches, athletic trainers, dietitians, sports scientists and cognitive coaches, overseeing all aspects of the performance program in a role similar to that of his new job with the Mets. Previously, Cavallini served as the lead developer of Fort Bragg’s performance training, testing methodology and coaching for injured soldiers.”

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I have no idea

      1. Saul's Colorist says:

        Well, these are important questions in any job interview…

        do you have previous experience of working in this scenario?

        can you wrap yourself around medical expertise, converse on a competent level with outside specialists if not marquee surgeons with limited time to follow up

        Can you you get respect from trainers, manager, mgmt and most importantly the players with your pedigree and parchments?

        SOUNDS LIKE A CHEAP WAY OUT AND THIS GUY WAS TO BE THE NUMBER TWO ALL ALONG W THE PROBABLE GOAL TO BE EVERYONE’s NUMBER ONE

        THIS IS HIGH RISK…

  2. Gothamist says:

    Some people are right to see how spenfing mndy on Free Agents adds Wins via HRs, Ks, fielding, range, outfield assists and situational hitting yet I believe thst the Mets can far exceed the proformance that they can buy by signing FAs just in the area of Sports Medicine.

    Again:

    Noah did his own mind off season program.
    Rightly, Noah knew that he was not putting hitters away and what was good intentions ending is a disaster and the Mets could have won 15 more games if he had done what the he should have.

    Cespedes, a smoker with huge limbs apparently after many pulled and strained muscles was never told that hydration was so important.

    This was last year, there were so many injuries to mention however to not attack this Sports Medicine stuff, not put the time in, not think it through, for me to get bored from it for it is not headlines grabbing and for me to prioritize signing FAs as more i portant who not be prudent.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Those are good points on Noah and Cespedes. Overall, it could be used more broadly to show that the injuries are more linked to player preparation than team programs.

    2. metsdaddy says:

      The Syndergaard and Cespedes points are great points. Put in a broader context, it does make you question whether this is more on how the individual players choose to prepare for a season than the staff put in place by the team.

      Of course, the other issue is why the Mets keep bringing in injury prone players.

      1. Five Tool Ownership says:

        Yet, lowest common denominator?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          More like, something needed to change, and you can’t change the players when they have guaranteed contracts.

  3. Gothamist says:

    I am so so so contented that Johan Santana (even rated as a better pitcher than “overrated” Sandy Koufax by a Metsdaddy reader and poster who did see Koufax pitch) that Santana got min recognition.

    I did not see Edgar Martinez nor who he hit against, I have no opinion nor any interest.

    But if Santana was so physically exceptional:

    Why would gifts of his end up as Rule Five
    Wht would such a specimen, who went with his durability just breakdown so emphatically?

    “there is no defined start or end time to “the steroids era,” though it is generally considered to have run from the late ’80s through the late 2000s.”

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/santajo02-pitch.shtml

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Likely, Johan was exposed to the Rule 5 Draft because he last played in Single-A before the draft. Typically, pitchers like Johan aren’t selected.

  4. Mike says:

    This was one of the dumbest, most biased articles I’ve read. The way that you are comparing the numbers is just fundamentally flawed. To compare each of his stats to some of the highest numbers in each category is just plain stupid, so does saying that Edgar only possess only “one truly elite Hall of Fame level skill” when a career .300 average, .400 obp, and .500 slug career line is universally deemed to be HOF worthy, and he fullfills all 3 and many others.
    Additionally, saying that everyone above a certain number is inducted doesn’t really say anything meaningful, it merely points out that below that high number there are a few outliers. In fact, the majority of the people in the hall are well below each of the “magic number” you listed.
    Now, let me show you just how poorly thought out your article is: First, saying that edgar had played 18 years is not really true at all, as the first 3 years of his career he played a total of 92 games combined. Was that his fault? not really, because the mariners management was really poor in the 80s and he was stuck in the minors despite amazing numbers. Counting in the 93′ season when he was injured, and the 94′ strike shortened season, he really only played a total about 14 full seasons, very short compared to many hall of famers who had 18+ full seasons under their belt, so to use the average of 18 seasons you mentioned is just totally ridiculous. If we used the 162 game average, which is how it SHOULD be calculated, his numbers come to .312 average, 177 hits, 41 doubles, 24 homers, 99 rbi’s and 101 walks, that’s pretty damn good for a 14 season average.
    What about his peak value? Multiple players in the hall have said, that if you are one of the best hitters in the league for an entire decade, you should be a hall of fame, how was edgar’s top 10 season average? How about I give you 12? from 1990, his first full season until 2001, his 162 game average was .321 avg, 27 homers, 105 rbi, 108 walks, .966 OPS, and a 155 OPS+, while at the same time winning 2 batting titles; it’s more than a decade of dominance and consistency with no steroid tainting it.
    In fact, how many players in history have topped the .300avg .400obp .500slug line? only 21. That just shows you how consistently you have to hit for average, draw walks, and hit for power over an entire career to be above that mark; and we are talking about some of the most well-rounded hitters in history here with the likes of ty cobb, stan musial and babe ruth. Now with edgar’s .312avg, 418obp, .515slug, how many players in history have topped all three of those? only 7! All of them hall of famers except for Joe Jackson and Joey Votto. 173 hall of fame position players, and only 5 can top edgar in all three lines.
    Again, when you mentioned his 147 OPS+ against others you sounded like as if it was something low and unworthy, when in reality how many players in the hall have a higher OPS+ than him? 26. So that’s 173-26=147 position players in the hall having a lower career adjusted OPS+ than Edgar, a relatively unbiased number accounting for both era and parks played in, and somehow you are arguing that it was too low for hall of fame standards?
    You were also biased when you compared Edgar to frank thomas’ career WAR and JAWS, did you really think that 68.3 WAR is really “well short” of 73.7 WAR of Thomas’? 5.4? that’s really just one decent season of difference not to mention Edgar played 267 fewer games than Thomas.
    In the end, according to your selection standard, 80% of the players currently in the hall should not be in because they didn’t match up with the top 20% of the players on every level.
    If you had only said that edgar’s cumulative stats line fall a bit short, I could kind of understand your point, but even then I could bring out the argument of peak value and dominance over longevity with examples like Koufax and Dimaggio. However, your reasoning of edgar not having convincing advanced stats and high peak value just completely discredits your article as a biased, one-dimensional hit piece.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      There is so much wrong with your reply, and it begins with your tone.

      My objective was to make a credible case for Edgar being a Hall of Famer.

      The reason why I analyzed each cut-off point for each offensive stat was because we’re looking to induct Edgar on his offense alone. It would then stand to reason you would want Edgar to clear certain thresholds. It’s not biased to say he cleared none of them. It’s factual.

      As for the Frank Thomas comparison, he’s the only player currently in the Hall of Fame who spent more games at DH than games in the field. Therefore, Frank Thomas is the standard, and yes, in my opinion Edgar fell well short of Edgar.

      As for your wanting to use a 162 game average, it’s absurd. Edgar played over 150 games just a few times in his career. Why use a standard he came nowhere close to meeting?

      Overall, your tone and venom show you are completely unbiased, which is gives you no credibility.

      As an Edgar fan, you seem to believe his being a DH should not hold him to a higher offensive standard. Personally, I feel that opinion is as misguided as your juvenile attacks.

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