Edgar Martinez’s Stats Against Mariano Rivera Is Meaningless
Last year, Mariners DH Edgar Martinez narrowly missed out on induction to the Hall of Fame. It was a narrow margin with him falling just 20 votes short. With him falling that short, people who support his induction into the Hall of Fame are going to find any argument they can to push him over the hump.
With him now appearing on the same ballot as Mariano Rivera, you will be naturally inclined to look at their head-to-head stats. In fact, it is popping up all over the place already:
You're going to see this stat a lot, but here goes: Edgar Martinez vs. first-time HOF candidate Mariano Rivera: 11-for-19, 3 doubles, 2 HR, .579/.652/1.053
— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) November 19, 2018
#Mariners Edgar Martinez faced Mariano Rivera 23 times in his career. He batted .579/.652/1.053.
"He had more than my number. He had my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He got everything from me." – Mariano Rivera (2003)
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) November 22, 2017
Do you know what Martinez’s stats against Rivera tell us? It tells us he hit Rivera really well. That’s it. Trying to garner any more information from that is just plain wrong. Really, hitting well against Rivera is not a barometer for Hall of Fame induction.
If it was, this means the Hall of Fame is going to have to really open it’s doors to include far more players.
Andruw Jones, who is also on this year’s ballot is 3-for-5 with a homer off Rivera. Since we are now looking at stats against Rivera, shouldn’t he now get enough votes to push him over the 75%? Shouldn’t the Veterans’ Committee also revisit the cases of Sandy Alomar (.462/.462/.846) and Aubrey Huff (.400/.429/.800)?
Looking forward, 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist is 3-for-4 against Rivera with two doubles and a triple. Curtis Granderson is 2-for-5 with a homer off Rivera. Are these both now automatic inductions when they reach the ballot?
Let’s look at things from a different perspective. Martinez was 2-for-36 against Alex Fernandez. This is the same Fernandez who did not receive one Hall of Fame vote. Considering Fernandez did not garner even one Hall of Fame vote, and Martinez did not perform well against him, does this now mean Martinez should not receive any Hall of Fame votes?
Of course not because that is a vapid argument.
The success or failures against any particular pitcher does not define a career. What defines a career is what was done on the field for at least 10 years, or in Martinez’s case 18 years.
Personally, I do not see him as a Hall of Famer. He did not hit any of the proverbial magic marks like fellow DHs Frank Thomas (500 homers) or Paul Molitor (3,000 hits) reached. If you look at it, Frank Thomas is the standard bearer for inducting DHs into the Hall of Fame.
If you look at Thomas as the standard, Martinez falls short. Others feel differently, and they raise some valid arguments. That is what makes Edgar Martinez’s candidacy such an interesting debate. That debate gets less interesting when you raise his stats against one pitcher or another. That’s just raising interesting factoids which does not move the needle at all.
Because if it did, you wouldn’t give him one vote due to his numbers against Fernandez.