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POLL: Edgar Martinez and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on September 14, 2010

Edgar Martinez was signed by the Seattle Mariners as an amateur free agent in 1982 and played in 18 seasons in the majors with the team. Although he started off as a third baseman, by 1993 Martinez appeared more often as a DH and starting in 1995 was a full-time DH for the next 10 seasons.

Martinez won 2 batting titles, led the league in OBP 3 times, and was a 7-time All-Star. He finished with a .418 career OBP, good for 22nd all-time. 'Gar also led the league in doubles twice, RBI once, and even runs scored once.

There are two big knocks against Martinez--he was as slow as molasses and rarely played the field. I'm not sure we can blame Martinez for being a DH, but the fact that he wasn't good enough to contribute in the field has to count against him somewhat from a flexibility perspective.

Click through and let's discuss his HOF credentials.

For Edgar Martinez in the Hall of Fame:

  • As mentioned above, Martinez has currently 22nd in career OBP. This outs him just behind Mickey Mantle and Frank Thomas and just ahead of Stan Musial and Wade Boggs. Martinez often doesn't get mentioned when the game's best hitters are listed, but make no mistake about it...this guy is way, way up there.
  • He even cracks the top 100 in batting average, a list dominated by long-deceased players. He's also 70th in slugging percentage and 35th in OPS. Even his OPS+ is 43rd. So this guy was not a product of the high-offense era he played in. His offensive numbers come out as fantastic no matter how you look at them.
  • Martinez's career WAR is 67.2, which is 69th among position players. However, keep in mind that he rarely played the field. Had he been drafted by an NL team and forced to play 3B (probably switching to 1B pretty quickly) he might have racked up a big negative fielding runs total. Price Fielder springs to mind as a possible comparison, and he's already got -40 fielding runs. That means that perhaps Martinez could have had -100 fielding runs for his career, which would have dropped his RAR from 688 to 588 and dropped his WAR ranking down to something more like 105th all-time. I'm not saying we necessarily need to apply this penalty to Martinez, but we at least need to recognize that the defensive part of his game was very limited, which gave the Mariners less roster flexibility than they might have otherwise had.
  • Martinez crushed the ball in 4 ALDS series to the tune of 7 HR and 20 RBI in 17 games.
  • Highest OPS+, 1990-present, minimum 5000 plate appearances:
    Rk Player OPS+ PA From To
    1 Barry Bonds 195 10218 1990 2007
    2 Albert Pujols 171 6703 2001 2010
    3 Mark McGwire 170 5739 1990 2001
    4 Frank Thomas 156 10074 1990 2008
    5 Manny Ramirez 155 9710 1993 2010
    6 Jeff Bagwell 149 9431 1991 2005
    7 Edgar Martinez 149 8392 1990 2004
    8 Jim Thome 147 9769 1991 2010
    9 Alex Rodriguez 146 10120 1994 2010
    10 Albert Belle 146 6439 1990 2000
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 9/13/2010.
  • 44.1 career Win Probability Added (44th all-time)

Against Edgar Martinez in the Hall of Fame:

  • As mentioned, Martinez was a really slow baserunner. From his baserunning stats, we see that he took the extra base just 33%.  From 1990 to 2004, the AL average was 43%. (I figured that out by collecting numbers from pages like this.) This explains in part why he had such a high OBP but averaged "only" 96 runs scored per 162 games. (I am nitpicking a bit here...) Among guys with a similar OBP, Boggs averaged 100 runs per 162 games, Greenberg 122, Ott 110, and Musial 104. Martinez's total is really quite low, especially considering that he played during a high-offense period, although the fact that he hit 4th and 5th a lot (and wasn't followed by the best hitters, necessarily) may have a lot to do with this as well.
  • Martinez got a lot of MVP votes in one year (1995, finished 3rd) and a smattering in other seasons. He deserved the MVP in 1995 but apparently didn't get much respect around the league.
  • As well as he hit in the ALDS, he hit poorly in the ALCS. In those 17 games he managed just 1 HR and 4 RBI with a .156 BA. Martinez helped put the Mariners franchise on the map with winning seasons and playoff appearances, but is also partly responsible for them not yet making the World Series.
  • His most similar players:
    Will Clark (902)
    Todd Helton (888)
    John Olerud (885)
    Moises Alou (879)
    Bobby Abreu (862)
    Bernie Williams (860)
    Bob Johnson (857)
    Paul O'Neill (852)
    Ellis Burks (850)
    Orlando Cepeda (840) *
  • Did I mention he was primarily a DH?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 at 7:33 am and is filed under Hall of Fame, Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

159 Responses to “POLL: Edgar Martinez and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Detroit Michael Says:

    I've written at length advocating that Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame over here:
    http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/12/edgar_martinez.php

    Note, I'm not a Mariners fan nor particular a fan of Edgar, although I do tend to favor a Hall of Fame no more selective than it has been in the past.

    Keep in mind that WAR already includes a positional adjustment, so if someone argues based on Edgar's WAR and then penalizes him further for being a DH, that's assessing a double penalty against him.

  2. Martinez is one of the toughest cases of the players you've put up a poll on. With the bat he is to me very deserving. Most of his value is with rate stats rather than raw totals. His chances are hurt by a couple things. You mentioned the DH thing and it is difficult to predict how the voters will handle that, but it is safe to assume he will lose some votes from writers put off by him primarily being a DH. The other thing that hurts him is the relatively short career caused by him getting a late start in the majors. He didn't become a full time player until his age 27 season. Also, as a corner infielder & DH it is surprising he only had one season with more than 30 home runs. He'll be on the ballot for a while.

  3. Just a copy-and-paste from what I wrote when last year's HoF ballot came out, but I stick by it:

    Edgar Martinez: .312, .933 OPS, 309 HR, 1261 RBI. Arguments for: Had a BA of .300+ 11 times, an OBP of .400+ 12 times and an OPS of 1.000+ five times. Seven-time All Star and five time Silver Slugger. 22nd on the career OBP list and 34th on the career OPS list. Arguments against: Put up a lot of his numbers at designated hitter, and only won one Silver Slugger while not playing DH. Due in a large part to averaging only 482 PAs a season, his non-average career rankings (112th in home runs, 114th in total bases, 115th in RBI, 159th in runs) are just not that good when you’re talking about the Hall of Fame. Verdict: The opening clause of Rule 1.01 of the Major League Baseball rulebook states: “Baseball is a game played between two teams of nine players each.” Not 10 players, or nine players in the field and a different set of nine players batting. While I won’t try to argue that the designated hitter violates the first rule of baseball (it does, but that’s not the argument), it will take someone with significantly better stats then Edgar Martinez to get into the Hall of Fame without picking up a glove. Even if Martinez had finished his career at first base, his numbers would not be worthy of Cooperstown. (In his defense, he did play almost 600 games between third and first base, but those are dwarfed by his 1412 games at DH).

    (Shameless plug: For my complete breakdown of last year's ballot, check the Facebook blog "The View from the Upper Deck."

  4. As long as the AL allows the DH, we can not punish a player for excelling in that position. It's a non-issue in my book.

  5. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I don't think it's fair to assume -100 fielding runs. He's already getting penalized roughly 50 runs vs. if he had played 1B for positional adjustment.

    Looking at his TZ numbers from when he played 3B, he actually has positive fielding over his 6-odd years of play 3B. I was surprised to see that, given the basic knock on him. Even his last year fielding, TZ puts him at +7 runs. Now, I know lots of people don't trust TZ, and I can certainly believe that it's off a bit here, but I've rarely seen cases of great fielders or terrible fielders looking average under TZ over 5-6 years, as opposed just a single year.

    So I'm forced to conclude that Edgar wasn't a huge liability at 3B when he actually played. It looks like his biggest problem was that he missed a lot of games, as his PAs per season shot up dramatically when he stopped playing the field.

    Therefore I don't think it's fair to penalize his DHing by more than the positional adjustment. It seems at least as likely to me that he could have played an average or average+ 1B as a really terrible one (since 1B doesn't require much in the way of speed). If we treat him as a poor but not terrible 1B for his last 10 years, his WAR is going to look pretty similar to what it looks like as a DH.

    If he'd had a significant part of his career as 1B showing a similar lack of durability as at third, then I'd be more sympathetic to that reading. In that case, the "if he were in the NL" counterfactual would look different not necessarily from a huge negative in fielding runs, but from fewer PAs, and thus lower offensive career Rbat totals. But it's a lot easier to play everyday at 1B than at 3B, so it's not clear this would have been an issue.

  6. Prince Fielder has had a ton of negative runs from BOTH fielding and positional scarcity. If Edgar were a bad fielder (likely) he would have had even more negative runs than just the positional scarcity he already has.

  7. How is .300/.400/.500 in 8000+ PA's not a Hall of Famer? Somebody, please explain this to me.

    PS. DH is a valid position according to baseball rules, so it cannot be held against him.

    PSS. Head's up... 8600 PA's is a longer career than HOFer Hank Greenberg, so short career argument would remove Hank from Cooperstown.

  8. Every argument I've seen against Edgar is almost unbelievably lame and/or nonsensical. Should be a slam dunk.

  9. Martinez has more WAR than 13 current Hall of Famers who played after 1950. He has more career WAR than 10 other players either not yet eligible or excluded for PED use.

    If you want to consider all of the mediocre veterans committee selections from pre WWII, he looks even better.

  10. Re: Greenberg
    Hank Greenberg, even with missing four and a half prime seasons (ages 31-34) seasons due to World War II (and another full season due to injury), put up better power totals than Martinez. Greenberg also won two MVPs, and was third two more times. Edgar got a sniff of one MVP, once. Career OPS, which is one of Martinez's only strong selling points, is 80 points higher for Greenberg, and OPS+ is 11 points higher. Martinez never posted more than 325 total bases; Greenberg did it five times in nine full seasons. Is someone who so powerfully overshadows the guy you're arguing *for* really the guy you want to use to *defend* Martinez?

    Greenberg showed what happens when you have a Hall-of-Fame career derailed by off-the-field layoffs. Martinez shows what happens when your career just isn't Hall-of-Fame caliber.

    Re: .300, .400, .500

    I'm curious if you also think that Larry Walker and Todd Helton are slamdunk Hall of Famers? Both match your criteria.

  11. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Keep in mind that WAR already includes a positional adjustment, so if someone argues based on Edgar's WAR and then penalizes him further for being a DH, that's assessing a double penalty against him.

    I mentioned this to Andy last night and should repeat it here. I am not sure that WAR's DH adjustment is enough. It looks like the difference between DH and 1B over a full season is 5 runs. That means that a 1Bman who rates at -6 or -7 for the season -- certainly below average, but hardly a butcher -- gets less defensive credit than someone who never set foot on the field. I have a problem with that. It is hard to define what is the lowest threshold of defensive competence at the MLB level which should be credited. I won't say that any incompetent fielder should get more defensive credit than a DH simply because they are on the field. But I don't think a below-average 1Bman should be treated like a DH. I'd say that at best, a DH should probably have the defensive value of the worst regular defensive 1Bmen, which would make the difference in positional adjustment at least 10 runs per season, rather than 5. If you make this adjustment to Martinez, it knocks off about 5 WAR.

    On top of that, Andy alluded to the loss of flexibility the Mariners had. They were never able to give another player a half-day off as the DH, because Martinez had to be there and couldn't shift into the field. It is hard to quantify this cost, and I don't want to overstate it, but I believe it is more than zero.

  12. There's going to be no convincing the guys who refuse to vote for a DH no matter what, because they're irrational on the issue. If relief pitchers who barely play can get in, a DH, a legal position in the game, are also eligible. I think the WAR position penalty for the DH is pretty reasonable, especially considering that empirically when players are playing DH as opposed to the field, they hit worse than they do normally -- DH is not as easy a position as it appears. Edgar also spent much more time at 3B, a somewhat difficult defensive position, than most people seem to remember. I certainly understand the arguments against using WAR when people don't like some of the defensive numbers for certain players, but with Edgar, there's just hitting (which all advanced systems look at similarly) and position adjustment. For those opposed to Edgar, what positional adjustment/penalty do you propose to offset his overqualified hitting?

  13. I have a question about the positional scarcity adjustment. I assume the value floats from year to year based on where all the good hitters are playing. Are there ever years where it inverts relative to 1B? DH's tend to be older and not as healthy as 1B. In the 2010 AL, DH's are hitting "only" .251/.330/.427 which is quite a bit below 1B and RF and even slightly below LF. Are there some years in which a player gets a bonus for being the DH? In my opinion, that should never happen. DH's positional scarcity should always be less than or equal the lowest of the other eight positions.

    Other than that, I would support Edgar's induction. Candidates aren't inducted in a vacuum and he'll face some crowded ballots in the next few years (I would rank him below Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell), but eventually he'd percolate to the top of my ballot and get my vote.

  14. GREAT look at the quandary that the DH era will bring. I've never thought that one-dimensional players like him, or Ortiz, deserve any consideration.

    But Andy, you brought up a really good phrase that might tip me a little in the future- "it's not his fault he was a DH"

  15. For someone who can use the Play Index better than I can, I'm curious if there is any Hall of Fame position players with fewer than Martinez's 8672 PAs who (a.) was actually voted in by the writers, instead of from the Vets or Negro Leagues committee and (b.) did not miss significant time due to World War II. Because I can't find any.

  16. Barkfart, I am assuming you are being sarcastic....?

    In some ways, it of course WAS Edgar's fault that he was a DH since he was so slow. Had he been forced to play the field, who knows what would have happened. He might have been forced to platoon, and/or his offense might have tapered off...impossible to say.

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    empirically when players are playing DH as opposed to the field, they hit worse than they do normally

    I'm not sure this is true. Studies that show this are going to be polluted with stats put up by guys who are DHing because they have aches and pains and are getting a half-day off from the field. Plus it is an adjustment for those guys who aren't used to just sitting in the dugout between innings. For the few players who become full-time DHs, I doubt whether their hitting is adversely affected. I am aware of anecdotal evidence that it helps their hitting -- stories about David Ortiz spending his time between AB studying video, using the batting cage, which he couldn't do if he had to lumber out to first base.

  18. So far this poll is showing unusually strong support for "deserves it but won't get in" which makes sense...

  19. Well, since Sean posted the new oWAR this morning, I think this would be a helpful time to use it. Perhaps even the perfect time. Since we can on speculate on what Edgar would have done with the glove as a full-time player, let's just compare him in a way that's actually meaningful-- as a purely offensive player, compared to everyone else in baseball history as a purely offensive player.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/WAR_off_career.shtml
    There he is, at #64 all-time. Frankly, the player surrounding him are pretty similar. Robbie Alomar, Tony Gwynn, Mike Piazza, Barry Larkin... and Mark McGwire? Well, I guess the ability to hit for average does make 'Gar about as valuable as Big Mac. Anyway, I think this ranking is pretty reasonable. Ahead of Tim Raines, behind Carl Yastrzemski. Five wins ahead of Jason Giambi, five wins behind Albert Pujols. It just fits. I can get behind this ranking. Plus, I think this may speak to JT's concern (@11) that the DH positional adjustment is too low, since adding in defense somehow makes 'Gar leapfrog nearly 20 guys in the WAR rankings. What do you think?

  20. Johnny,
    There is research suggesting when regular players DH, they lose something like 5 runs/season of offense versus when they play the field. The -5 penalty vs 1B used in WAR may be really more like -10. Also, check the average line of DHs in the league. They hit worse than 1B in real life. As another point, if you wanted to have a larger positional penalty for DH, you'd have to believe there are many, many league average-ish MLB hitters (or above average hitters if you believe the research that DHing reduces a hitter's output) floating around as minor-league free agents who are just not up due to being terrible at defense. These guys exist sometimes (Cust for a while), but they're not freely available at will.

    The flexibility point is reasonable but not worth as much as it seems. If you don't have a regular DH and want to use the DH slot as a resting place for other players, because they're guys from all over the defensive spectrum, their hitting level will not be very high (compared to having a regular DH, ie, a second first baseman-type guy), so the opportunity cost of giving this flexibility up is low compared to the big positional penalty assumed in WAR.

  21. He may not get in or belong in the HOF, but he is one guy I would not want to pitch to with the game on the line. Professional and prototypical right handed hitter. Just gifted with the bat.

  22. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Chopper, there are more than a few. I'm not 100% sure who was elected by the writers without checking, but just eyeballing it, there are Duke Snider, Yogi Berra, Pie Traynor, Kirby Puckett...

  23. @10 Chopper ... you got me on Greenberg. I didn't remember that his prime years were cut out. Still, Edgar's 8600 PA's really isn't a short career unless you're talkin' about counting stats. As for Walker & Helton, well... they may have the magic line of .300/.400/.500 (tho Helton might dip below that by the time he retires), I'm not sure how much Coors Field bloated those numbers so I'm not entirely sure yet about them. They might be, or might not.

    As far as I'm concerned, everyone else who sustained a .300/.400/.500 line (min. 5000 PA's/career), is a no doubt Hall of Famer. You just can't find that kind of hitter very often. Some of the best of all time didn't even produce those averages for their career.

  24. Edgar's missing defensive resume is not because of inability. It was injuries to his hamstrings that forced him into the DH role.

    He was not necessarily slow, either, in his pre-injury days. He swiped 14 bases in 1992.

    If you look at Edgar's progress as a hitter, you'll find he was getting better every year, a string of ever-increasing averages that from 1990-'92 that culminated in his first batting title.

    The next two seasons, he missed over half the M's games because of injury. In '95, healthy again and installed as the full-time DH, he rose to his best season ever, helping the M's deal with the absence of Ken Griffey Jr.

    In '96, he was well on-pace to obliterate the record for doubles in a season and possibly challenge for a third batting crown, when he suffered a ribcage injury in a collision with John Marzano, as both went for an infield pop-up.

    There's actually a great story that came from this incident. Reportedly, everyone rushed to where Edgar was lying on the ground, in pain. Junior, as the story goes, went to Marzano's side, telling the M's backup catcher, "Edgar's hurt; you're screwed."

    Gar also suffered from an eye disorder that required he spend time each day doing a series of exercises on a laptop computer. It seems strange that someone so well known for his batting eye actually had difficulty with his eyesight.

    In 2000, Edgar became the oldest player ever to lead the league in RBIs.

    In 2001, he was a prime contributor to the Mariners winning a record-tying 116 games. A year later, however, he re-injured a hamstring.

    Despite an early career spent in a notorious hitters' park, Martinez showed a marvelous consistency between home and road, which carried over to the pitching-dominant Safeco Field.

    His career home batting average was .311. His career road batting average was .312. The OBP splits are .423/.412. Slugging? .517/.514. OPS? .940/.923. He actually hit more homers on the road 160-149, despite the Kingdome edge in his earlier years.

    He was quiet, humble, and respectful, never considered a glory hog.

    He was the heart and soul of the Mariner offense. I always likened Gar to Tony Perez: that steady presence in the middle of the lineup.

  25. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There is research suggesting when regular players DH, they lose something like 5 runs/season of offense versus when they play the field.

    I believe this, but as I said, I think it is in large part because of guys DHing when hurt, and not being used to DHing. I don't think there is the same impact on a full-time DH. Are you aware of studies which try to parse out those effects?

    Also, check the average line of DHs in the league. They hit worse than 1B in real life.

    I realize this, but most teams don't have a Martinez or Ortiz. They rotate guys through DH, who have gotten too old to play the field regularly, or to rest them or just get them some ABs. If the positional adjustment in WAR is supposed to be a proxy for defensive contributions of an average player at that position, it must account for the fact the the DH is playing absolutely no defense, regardless how well or poorly they hit.

    As another point, if you wanted to have a larger positional penalty for DH, you'd have to believe there are many, many league average-ish MLB hitters (or above average hitters if you believe the research that DHing reduces a hitter's output) floating around as minor-league free agents who are just not up due to being terrible at defense.

    Hmm. Can you expand on this at all? I need to think about this some more. I'm not sure I'm fully grasping it.

  26. Those are good points Twisto. I was thinking about Fred McGriff and how much of a hit he takes defensively at First base with WAR. Edgar was clearly the better hitter, (Edgar ops+147 vs. McGriff 134), but it seems like there's a huge disparity between Edgar and McGriff.

    McGriff's WAR: 50.5
    Edgar's WAR: 67.2
    That's a pretty large disparity.
    xx
    On Fangraphs the difference isn't as great
    xx
    McGriff's Fangraphs WAR: 61.3
    Edgar's Fangraphs WAR: 71.6
    Edgar's clearly better but 10 WAR instead of 17 WAR.
    xx
    If you look at Win Shares, McGriff comes out ahead:
    McGriff Win Shares: 326
    Edgar Win Shares: 305
    xx
    I was looking and I think almost every player post-1901 with 5000+ Plate Appearances and an Ops+ of 147 or higher is in the HOF except, D. Allen, M. McGwire and Joe Jackson.
    XX
    Edgar was kind of a "Jekyll and Hyde" in the post season. He had about the same plate appearances, (70) in the LDS as in the LCS but the differences were dramatic. LDS History: .375/.481/.781..vs..LCS .156/.239/.234.

  27. When I researched this post I noted that Martinez got a late start in the big leagues. He didn't play his first full season until age 27. He had his first good season in the majors at age 24, in 1987 (.329 BA and .473 SLG in Calgary PCL AAA). He tore up the minors after that but didn't start hitting in the majors until 1990. I remember it being a pretty big shock when he hit .343 in 1992, especially when he didn't hit nearly as well in two injury-shortened seasons in 1993 and 1994. The he bounced back with another batting title in 1995 and never looked back.

    Anyway, this is the reason why his counting stats don't measure up..apparently he wasn't good enough to start collecting them in the majors at a young age.

  28. Why is nobody talking about Fred McGriff?

    Also, JeffW, regardless of reason, Edgar was slow (whether due to injury or nature.) I watched him play a LOT of games and can't even count the number of times I saw a baserunner from a base behind him catch up to him on the basepaths on a ball in the gap.

  29. Johnny, you are right that there may be confounding factors like injuries in the studies, so maybe you can't conclude for sure that DHing is difficult, but it is a distinct possibility given the numbers. Pinch hitting is also "hard" (players hit worse pich hitting), so it certainly may make sense that playing the field keeps most players in the game, focused, and better, whereas just going up to hit every couple of innigs takes something away from most guys (maybe not everyone, but replacement level need to be based off of the rule, not the exception).

  30. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It should be remembered that Calgary specifically and the PCL in general was a real hitters' paradise when looking at his minor league numbers. I know a lot of people think he was held back too long (by the likes of Jim Presley) before being given a chance to play in the majors regularly. I'm not sure. But if one DOES think Martinez (or any player) was major league ready but simply not given the chance to play, I think it is valid to give them credit for that time. The HOF is not just to measure value but also ability...Ted Williams (not that he needs any extra credit) certainly had the ability to play high-level baseball 1943 to 1945, even though he added no value to the Red Sox in those years. And Edgar Martinez may have had the ability to contribute more in the majors in 1988-1989, and shouldn't be punished because Seattle was waiting for Presley's bat to come back to life.

  31. I think the big question for Martinez is this: Is the Hall of Fame meant to honor great players, or to honor the accumulation of statistics?

    The only argument against Martinez is opportunity. He was only given the opportunity to play everyday when he was 27, despite being far more qualified than the incumbent Jim Presley. He was not a defensive liability, but rather shifted to DH in an effort to keep him healthier. Management decisions kept him from having a chance at close to 3000 hits and stuck him with the stigma that sometimes comes attached to being a DH.

    I like to look at the 'meat' of a player's career over the milestones. In Martinez' case, that 'meat' is a 14 year stretch from 1990-2007 hitting .317/.426/.531 with about 2000 hits, 300 HR, and an OPS+ of 153 in 1800+ games. That's a prime-plus that compares to most HoFers. He didn't have much of a decline phase to compile numbers, since he was an excellent hitter through 40, so all he's really lacking is a few years of accumulation before he hit his prime.

    He's an easy yes if you honor great players using their statistics as a tool for evaluation, rather than honoring counting statistics using the names of players as a label.

  32. Andy,

    The M's never thought Edgar would hit with a third baseman's expected power. They also had Jim Presley at the hot corner at that time.

    He got September call-ups in '87 and '88, after winning the PCL batting crown both seasons. He was ready, but Presley was in the way.

    Even so, when they finally gave Edgar a shot, he had to beat out Darnell Coles for the job. He finally went to camp as the starting third baseman in 1990. Secure in his status, he batted .302, .307, then exploded with his .343 batting title in '92.

    Who knows how he would have progressed, had he not suffered a severe hamstring injury on a muddy field in Vancouver, as the M's played their final preseason tune-up prior to the start of the '93 season?

  33. Thanks JT. I was wondering if PCL was high-offense, which is why I included it in my post above.

  34. re: the logic of DH's being one dimensional, thus should not be in the HoF

    So should all AL pitchers be excluded because they do not bat? Or should a NL pitcher have his poor batting stats be counted against him? Should Randy Johnson's .125/.153/.152 count against him?

    Personal opinions on the allowance of the DH should not be a factor on an individual player's qualifications for HoF. As long as it is a valid and allowed position, its viable.

  35. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    It's tough to make a compelling case for Edgar to conventional-minded HOF voters, because there's really no one really comparable in the HOF. Molitor would be the closest, but he had about 3500 more PA's. Also, like Molitor, Edgar doesn't seem to be a lousy fielder; both were moved to DH not because of poor gloves, but because they kept getting hurt out in the field.

    The main difference is that Molitor bacame a regular at 21, compared to 27 for Edgar. This allowed Molitor to put up some of the huge counting stats (3300+ hits, nearly 1800 runs) that impress HOF voters. Edgar is a noticeably better quality hitter (147 OPS vs. 122 OPS), so his case has to be made on his rate stats, as #2 said. They're very impressive, but lack of career length really hurts him. I'd put him in (barely), but with the flood of qualified candidates in future ballots, and also the leftover candidates from previous ballots, I'm not sure he's going to get much higher than the 36% he got last year.

  36. "Hmm. Can you expand on this at all? I need to think about this some more. I'm not sure I'm fully grasping it."

    It looks like a DH gets a -15 run position adjustment penalty and about +20 for replacement. Therefore, a DH needs to hit -5 runs to league average over a full season to be replacement-level (or about average if you use the empirical DH-hitting penalty). If you want to move the DH position adjustment to -20, then a replacement DH needs to hit league average or say 5 runs above. The question is, are there lots of roughly average or better hitters (ignoring defense) floating around as minor league free agents any team can just pick up and use as free replacements? I don't know for sure, but my hunch is no given how poorly real DHs hit for so many teams. When these guys do seem to exist (Cust, Durazo, Je Giambi, etc), the saber fans make a stink. These exceptions are still not freely available guys, and they're not around every season -- they're exceptions.

  37. "In some ways, it of course WAS Edgar's fault that he was a DH since he was so slow. Had he been forced to play the field, who knows what would have happened. He might have been forced to platoon, and/or his offense might have tapered off...impossible to say."

    Edgar did not become a DH because he was slow. He had some injuries (hamstring I believe) early in his career and the M's wanted to make sure his bat stayed in the lineup (for obvious reasons).

  38. Johnny, thanks for finding those. I knew there had to be some, but Play Index was vexing me. And I had no idea Duke Snider had such a drop-off (no 25-HR or 90-RBI seasons after age 31).

    For the others, Yogi was a catcher and Kirby had to quit on the back of a 130 OPS+ year due to his eyes. As far as Traynor, he's one of the guys who I have never really understood why he was in in the first place (107 OPS+ and a WAR in the 30s?). Maybe for beating the Senators in the World Series?

  39. I DO think that there is a bit of a double standard here. When it comes to position players no one really talks about defense unless it's an obvious positive, excusing guys who hurt their teams in the field, while Edgar is automatically penalized. His WAR takes the lack of fielding into account and is still HOF caliber.

  40. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Or should a NL pitcher have his poor batting stats be counted against him?

    Yes.

  41. @38
    Pie Traynor was inducted into the HOF way back in 1948. He had a lifetime .320 batting average and was widely considered to be the greatest 3B of all-time until people discovered there was more to hitting than simply batting average. People didn't understand era-adjustments back then either. The 1920s and 1930s was considered to be a Lake Wobegon Era where where all the hitters were great.

  42. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Josh #36, thanks, it just wasn't clicking with me at first.

    You make a reasonable point. I need to think about it.

  43. Molitor also played 55% of his career in the field at 8 different positions (Gar played about 27% of his career in the field at 2 positions). I agree, he is one of the better comparisons to Gar, but he's really not that great of a comparison either-- Frank Thomas might a better comparison. Molitor had a pretty lengthy career in the field and then switched to DH, whereas Gar played for a short time in the field and as a result was pretty much a lifer DH. Slow or hurt, he nonetheless was a lifer DH or as about as close as you can get. Gar is just barely short in my book, but I wouldn't be upset if he gets in. DH is what it is, and so DH's should make the Hall, but I'm not so sure Gar did quite enough. I suspect his Hall votes will stagnate for a good while with him getting in in a late push.

  44. A DH shouldn't be punished because he's a DH. If it's a baseball "position" than so be it.

    With that said, Martinez was a great hitter but statistically falls short of the Hall. He will never get in and it's not because he was a DH.

  45. "Anyway, this is the reason why his counting stats don't measure up..apparently he wasn't good enough to start collecting them in the majors at a young age."

    Actually, it he got a late start because the incompetent Mariner management would rather play Jim Presley, the guy with the .710 career OPS.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/preslji01.shtml

  46. @ Chopper... Joe DiMaggio, Joe Medwick, Bill Terry, are some HOFers with less PA's than Edgar Martinez, and weren't in via vet's committee.

  47. Johnny Twisto Says:

    My recollection is also that Traynor was considered a good defender who might have played SS if Pittsburgh didn't have Rabbit Maranville there when he came up. (TotalZone doesn't see him as particularly good, but those numbers must be taken with an even larger grain of salt pre-1950.) 3B was still considered a more defensive position at the time because of all the bunting (and it looks like Traynor was a very good bunter himself). Also, in an era of more errors, hitting for a good BA and rarely striking out was probably more important (he probably reached on lots of errors but we don't have a count of that yet). He was probably overrated but I think OPS+ probably underrates him because the game was played a little differently at the time.

  48. "For someone who can use the Play Index better than I can, I'm curious if there is any Hall of Fame position players with fewer than Martinez's 8672 PAs who (a.) was actually voted in by the writers, instead of from the Vets or Negro Leagues committee and (b.) did not miss significant time due to World War II. Because I can't find any."

    I'll note that Martinez also missed time due to events outside his control (i.e. the strike). That so-called injury-shortened 1994? He was active right up to the start of the strike, and missed only 23 of 112 games.

  49. The issue of how to quantify the DH's contribution as opposed position players understandably dominates the discussion on this site. However, I think that the biggest obstacles to Edgar's enshrinement have nothing to do with his numbers. After all, his counting stats aren't too shabby even if he, due to the late start and some injuries, never reached any of the big milestones...over 800 XBHs, over 3500 times on base, etc. Rather, Edgar's biggest hurdles to enshrinement lie in two unfortuante factors - 1) he played his entire career in MLB's most distant outpost and 2) he never said anything, good or bad, to draw attention to himself.

    To be clear, I don't mean to knock either Seattle or Edgar himself. That said, Seattle is far and away the most remote MLB market, over 800 miles removed from any other team. Though charismatic stars like Junior Griffey can still emerge as national celebrities while playing in Seattle, it's more difficult to get attention in those circumstances. And unlike Griffey, Edgar could hardly be described as having any charisma. He never said nothing to nobody. With Junior Griffey and his endorsements, Randy Johnson's dominance on the mound, young A-Rod's emergence, and even Jay Buhner's immense local popularity, Edgar was never more than fifth most popular player on his own team. And by the time those guys had gone, Edgar was declining and Ichiro had shown up to take the spotlight.

    And on top of all this, there's the lingering perception that those Mariner teams underacheived, given the immense talent of their best players.

    Keep in mind, that the beat writers are the ones that whether or not Edgar will be enshrined in the HoF. And despite their protestations to the contrary, it's a popularity contest. The guys that provided good copy during their playing careers will again provide good copy when they become eligible for the HoF. Edgar Martinez never bragged about his own talents, never trashed his opponents, never showed a penchant for doing crazy things like crack or soliciting tranny prostitutes. He just showed up every day and hit the crap out of the ball. Perhaps that skill would've received more attention if he'd played in NY, Boston, Chicago, or LA. The recent HOF-or-not debates have always been about the guys that played in those markets, Dawson and Rice being the most recent examples. Even for the Veteran's Committee, the debates focus on the guys from the big cities, such as Rizzuto and now Santo.

    Tony Oliva, as an example of a borderline guy, doesn't have too many advocates arguing his case though his contributions are almost identical to those of Rice. The major difference between Oliva and Rice is just one of circumstance - Rice was in Boston, playing in the cauldron of the Yankees-Sox rivalry while Oliva shivered away up in Minnesota. On top of that, Rice was a lightning rod for criticism (and correspondingly, impassioned defenses of his abilities and person) whereas Oliva, like Edgar, was keeping his mouth shut and hitting the crap out of the ball in a smaller, far-flung locale.

    So Edgar Martinez's fate might be the same as that of Oliva - an argument but no advocate.

  50. Whatever the reasons the writers had for not supporting Edgar during MVP voting (only 2 top-10's) will probably carry over to his HOF voting, making it very difficult. I voted "Yes, but not enough votes to get in".

  51. Hell of a good point, Tmckelv.

  52. @48 John...nice point about him being active 'til the '94 strike hit. Makes his '94 stats more considerable.

    Error correction: I mentioned Joe D as a HOFer with more PA's than Martinez, but forgot to overlook him since he missed time in WW2.

    @49 Andy ...I think Edgar's got a better chance than Oliva. Martinez got 36% of the vote in his 1st year, and Oliva only got 15% and more than doubled over the course of his eligibility. If that happens for Martinez, then he could get elected.

  53. It's a real shame that a bias is formed simply by where you play. Edgar Martinez would be in fairly quickly if the numbers were in a vacuum.

    Also, isn't a man like Edgar the kind that we should respect and have our children idolize? Based on a lot of news stories from the last couple of years about sports stars, shouldn't a man as respectable as 'Gar get more credit?

  54. Edgar is one of my favorite baseball players, and I would love to see him get into the Hall of Fame. I'm not holding my breath, however--in addition to being primarily a DH, he didn't hit 500 home runs (I don't think he even made it to 400) or 3000 hits, and I get the feeling the writers may penalize him for that as well.

  55. I think Edgar's lack of athleticism has been a bit overstated. This is a guy who went 14 and 4 in steals in 1992, the year he won his first batting title. He was moved to DH not because he was a butcher in the field, but as a precaution due to injuries. If he were a national leaguer, I have no doubt he would have played first base, and there's no reason to think he couldn't have played the position respectably.

    There's the argument that DH-ing unfairly extended his career, but we don't penalize players for having Tommy John surgery, or access to modern trainers and nutritionists - all of which were unavailable to previous generations - so that argument doesn't hold much water in my opinion...

    Beyond all that, when you're talking about whether a great position player is hall-worthy, 90% of the time you're talking about his bat. How was Greenburg's defense? Ted Williams'? I doubt a single vote will be swayed by Manny Ramirez's atrocious outfield play. But because some people hate the DH, it's brought up in Edgar's case over and over, instead of focusing on what got him into the discussion: his hitting. When the voters start talking about that, Papi's in.

  56. The question is where do we draw the line for guys who are "just doing what they're paid to do"? We don't seem to punish pitchers for being in the AL (thus not hitting), being poor hitters, being slow base-runners or being poor fielders because after all they're paid to pitch. I'm not saying all pitchers are like this, but several greats had at least a few of these qualities that had no impact whatsoever on their candidacy. On the same token, we'd never elect the greatest pinch-runner of all time to the hall because he may be the greatest, but he's still just a pinch-runner. So where on this off-the-top-of-my-head list of specialists do we cross the line from "ignorable qualities" to "not rounded enough"?

    1. Pitcher
    2. AL Pitcher
    3. DH
    4. Pinch Hitter
    5. Pinch Runner

  57. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #43/ Matt Y Says: Molitor also played 55% of his career in the field at 8 different positions (Gar played about 27% of his career in the field at 2 positions). I agree, he is one of the better comparisons to Gar, but he's really not that great of a comparison either-- Frank Thomas might a better comparison."

    Perhaps Thomas is a better comparison, but there's still major differences:
    - Thomas played over 40% of his games at 1B, vs. 27% for Edgar, moving mainly to DH only in his 8th full year
    - Thomas wasn't moved from 1B because of injuries, but because he was a truly LOUSY first baseman, perhaps the most wretched defensive player of any player who was considered truly "great" (Ralph Kiner gets honorable mention...).

    If the Mariners had won a WS and Edgar played a major role, he'd probably have more support, and his shortcomings would be glossed over by some voters; probably not enough to get inducted though.

  58. Gar was my favorite. You can't not love his perseverance.

    His '94 season, despite John DiFool's protestations, was truncated due to his being his on the wrist by a Dennis Martinez fastball on Opening Day.

    He missed all but four of the Mariners' first 27 games, and essentially had to re-start his whole year from scratch in early-May.

    "...missed only 23 of 112 games"? That's 20% of the season!

    Fun fact: Edgar owns a .625 lifetime average against Mariano Rivera (10-16), with two home runs. :D

  59. Johnny Twisto Says:

    If he were a national leaguer, I have no doubt he would have played first base, and there's no reason to think he couldn't have played the position respectably.

    But there is reason to think he couldn't have stayed in the lineup regularly.

    There's the argument that DH-ing unfairly extended his career, but we don't penalize players for having Tommy John surgery, or access to modern trainers and nutritionists - all of which were unavailable to previous generations - so that argument doesn't hold much water in my opinion...

    First, I think it is fair to account for various reasons why players tend to have longer careers now than they used to. Whether one wants to call it a "penalty" or whatever, it was more impressive to be productive into one's late 30s a hundred years ago than it is now, and that should be accounted for when trying to compare players of different eras.

    Also, I don't think improvements in technology and medicine are really the same thing as a major rule change.

    Martinez was a great hitter but it's fair to consider that he may not have had the chance to prove that in previous eras. His career may have ended early due to injuries had he played prior to the DH.

  60. Agreed #57 -- There's really no great comparison to Gar. He really is our only lifetime DH that put up Hall-caliber numbers. On this, and some other points made here, I'd change my vote to just in.

  61. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #49/Andy G. - really great points about Edgars's personality and Seattle's remoteness hurting his HOF chances

    #48/ "John DiFool Says: "For someone who can use the Play Index better than I can, I'm curious if there is any Hall of Fame position players with fewer than Martinez's 8672 PAs who (a.) was actually voted in by the writers, instead of from the Vets or Negro Leagues committee and (b.) did not miss significant time due to World War II. Because I can't find any."

    John D., you don't need the PI, just click on "Hall of Fame" on the left-side of the home page, go to the Batting Index, and click on "PA" at the top - this will put plate appearances in descending order. And YES, there are a number of HOF position players voted in by the BBWAA:
    - Johhny Bench
    - Pie Traynor
    - Yogi Berra
    - Duke Snider
    - Joe Medwick
    - Kirby Puckett
    - Gabby Hartnett
    - Bill Terry
    - Bill Dickey
    - Lou Boudreau
    - Ralph Kiner
    - Mickey Cochrane

    I omitted several players who lost playing time due to the color line, but were voted in by the BWWAA(Campy, Jackie). I don't think 8,672 is an unusually low PA total to be elected by the BBWAA. The average is 7,916 PA, which includes the Veteran's Committee selections.

  62. Players that had (A) less than 8672 PAs, (B) were voted into the HoF by the writers as a player and not a manager, (C) whose careers weren't interrupted by WWII or shortened by segregation (i.e. DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson), and (D) were not catchers.

    1. Kirby Puckett
    2. Duke Snider
    3. Ralph Kiner
    4. Lou Boudreau (inducted as a player but being a WS-winning manager probably helped)
    5. Joe Medwick
    6. Bill Terry
    7. Pie Traynor

    I don't think that I've missed anybody. Of course, the HoF did not exist for the first 65 years that major league baseball was played in the United States. On top of that, in the early years of the HoF, the writers only voted in the guys that we now consider to be inner-circle Hall of Famers. So that rules out pretty much all the deadball-era guys...which is fine because it's hard to really use, say, Ed Delahanty as a comp for Edgar Martinez.

    So that leaves the question of whether or not any of the seven names above can be reasonably compared to Edgar...IMO, Kiner is the most interesting comparison on the list. If nothing else, his inclusion demonstrates that the beat writers, like chicks, dig the long ball. Maybe if Edgar had had one fluke season in which he hit 50 HRs, he'd have a better chance of getting into the Hall.

  63. Edgar Martinez was sitting in the dugout or taking swings in the cage while Griffey was running into walls, Arod was turning double plays, and Jay Buhner was throwing guys out at the plate.

    The WAR positional adjustment doesn't punish guys enough for essentially playing 1/2 the game.

    I have no problem with Thomas, Thome, or Molitor...guys who were borderline w/o the DH and used it to put themselves over later in their careers.

    I have a HUGE problem with admitting a career long DH. His career would've been over in 1994 if not for the DH.

    I get that you can assess the value that one guy contributes with the bat and mathematically show that it makes up for what he's doing in the field.

    For Martinez to be considered, as a lifetime DH, he would need to have had his '95 season for 15 straight years. Or, put up his current production at 3B.

    Realistically, rate stats and all, would he really be considered as a 1B or a LF? No. Then he shouldn't be anywhere near consideration as a DH.

  64. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Martinez averaged 34 doubles per triple in his career. There are only 32 players with at least 3000 PA who averaged more than 30 doubles per triple.

    Rod Barajas has 162 doubles and 1 triple.

  65. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #62/Andy G. - Ralph Kiner started his career with eight great years in a row (OK, his rookie year was "good", not great, but he did lead the NL in HR), but only played ten years total. Without going all sabermetric, Kiner probably has a better peak, but Edgar has a noticeably better career than Kiner. Is that enough to justify election? - I'll leave it to other esteemed analysts here to hash it out...

  66. Andy,

    Could you please put links to the player pages in these HoF pieces? It seems to me that you usually did in the past, but not for Edgar.

    Harmon Killebrew was a very slow 3rd baseman who was moved before his career was half over. His fielding numbers at 3rd are worse than Edgar's. The rest of his career, not having the DH option until his final 3 years, he played 1st and LF. At these positions he was about 2 runs below average per year. I don't think that your "-100 runs fielding", if he had not become a DH has any basis in fact. (By Bill James' speed score Killebrew was clearly slower than Martinez.)

    This is a trial, right? Asa self appointed judge I rule your -100 runs comment prejudicial and should be stricken from the record. ;>)

  67. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    All Papi could do was hit -- but then, all Caruso could do was sing.

    If Martinez would have gone just a little longer, he would have been a HOF shoo-in. As is, he {in my opinion, at least} falls a little short of the mark for HOF immortality.

  68. @66 Kds, I just updated it using the BR Linker tool, which added some links but not all.

  69. #66 Edgar's link was in the table Andy made.

  70. I posted (a few times) in the Larry Walker HoF thread, on Walker's numbers, and how he performed in different settings. it was an attempt to determine what kind of numbers he might have had, had he not played most of his career at Coors Field.

    I noted that there were only two parks in which he batted more than 200 times, and still maintained a .300 average. I have since expanded that to five parks, with a lower ceiling of 100+ PA's. Walker's lows were .208 (PacBell), .217 (Astrodome), and .218 (Shea). He also hit below .270 at Veteran's Stadium and Three Rivers.

    I did the same for Edgar, to compare the difference. The lowest career average Edgar had in any park he batted more than 100 times is .270, in 153 PA's at County Stadium. He also batted "just" .274 in the notorious low-average Oakland Coliseum (but added a career road-park-best 15 homers).

    Elsewhere?

    Anaheim Stadium - .319
    The Ballpark at Arlington - .282
    Camden Yards - .327
    Fenway Park - .299
    Comiskey Park II - .319
    Jacobs Field - .321
    Tiger Stadium - .321
    Kauffman Stadium - .307
    Metrodome - .371 (YIKES!!!)
    Yankee Stadium - .337
    Kingdome - .321
    Safeco Field - 293
    Tropicana Field - .318
    Skydome - .331

    Martinez has a career average of .300 or better in 11 of the 15 parks in which he played a substantial number of games. No home field advantage there.

    Gar would have already been canonized, had he played his home games in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.

    Even having played so many of his games in a hitters' park, he still gains when his career numbers are neutralized (up to .314 career average, with 536 doubles and 321 homers).

    Andy, is there any way that BBR could ever show rankings for career totals when neutralized?

  71. #65/Lawrence,

    1. Excellent points throughout. Funny that we posted similar lists one minute apart (#61 and #62)

    2. Kiner's best stretch may superficially appear to be superior to Edgar's, what with all the black ink in the HR and BB columns. Still, if you take Kiner's best stretch ('46-'52), he was basically done after that) and compare it to Edgar's ('95-'01), it's a dead heat. Kiner's total WAR in that stretch was 40.8 and Edgar's was 40.9. If not you, I'm sure someone else will point out that Kiner was staggering around in the outfield whereas Edgar was exclusively a DH during those time periods. I dismiss that because you're punishing the player for the circumstances under which he played. If playing Kiner at DH had been an option, then he never would've been allowed to play the field. Conversely, if the DH wasn't available to Edgar's team, he would have been a below-average defensive first baseman and, much as he was, one of the best hitters in baseball. Neither the 1995 Mariners nor the 1946 Pirates were faced with those decisions. In each instance, the team took the best option that was available under the then-current rules which meant that the Pirates had to live with Kiner's awful glove whereas the Mariners were able to hide Edgar's similar shortcomings.

  72. For people against Martinez, what about Sandy Koufax?

    Koufax had a great peak, but a short career and falls well short of any career milestones. Koufax was also an awful hitter, even for a pitcher. I'd argue that Edgar contributed more with the glove than Koufax did with the bat. Sure he stood around in the batter's box, but he was no more a complete player than Edgar in his DH years.

    And what about Wes Ferrel? He might fall a little short purely as a pitcher, but he was also a fantastic hitting pitcher who added a lot of value with his bat. If being a complete player was really that important to voters, Ferrel should be an easy inclusion.

    Kiner's already been mentioned, and he wasn't much defensively, nor is he the only poor fielder in the Hall.

    A pitcher doesn't become a complete player because he picks up a bat and gets a hit every once in a while, nor does a hitter become a complete player because him manager lets him stand around in LF with a glove on his hand to keep his bat in the lineup. I agree that a DH should be viewed through the lens of someone who doesn't provide any defensive value, but we also shouldn't act as though Manny Ramirez was contributing terribly more than David Ortiz on defense just because the Red Sox decided to let Manny field badly instead of Ortiz.

  73. Johnny Twisto Says:

    WilsonC, not all those attributes are of equal value. Pitchers can add or subtract value with their bat, but either way it's a tiny percentage of their total package. Being an all-around player is nice from an aesthetic point of view, but it's not necessarily that important.

    I feel like Manny was contributing a lot more than Ortiz on defense. Even if he was a terrible left fielder, I am sure he was far better than Ortiz would have been. On top of that, if Ortiz did have to play left field regularly, I am sure he would not have hit as well as he did. I don't think the Sox sort of flipped a coin and decided to use one bad fielder over the other. I think being the DH enabled Ortiz to maximize his offensive abilities, and Ramirez was still able to equal him with the bat while playing a passable outfield.

  74. I really enjoyed watching Edgar hit, and I know there were a lot of stories around about what a good guy he was - both perosnally and in the clubhouse. I live in somewhat of a baseball wasteland, but we would get Mariners broadcasts on the radio a lot when he was active, and I always found him to be soft spoken and generous. Still I voted no...

    As for using the stat that he was fast (or not slow) in one year he stole 14 of 18 bases, I'm sorry but Keith Moreland once stole 12 of 15 bases and the only way he didn't slower than my grandmother in a walker was if he was on base at the same time as Jody Davis. Maybe the Mariners were inept, for for whatever reason he didn't become a regular until later in his career. I don't think we can give him extra credit for that unless we have pretty good evidence that he was ready to be a major league PLAYER before the actually was. Maybe if the MAriners had made him a full-time DH in 1987, he would have blossomed. Or, he could have hit the way he did in those partial seasons of 1987-89 (.336 OBP, .366 SLG, 93 OPS+). It is entirely possible that he wasn't a major league hitter until he was 27, and he took it as far as he could - until he was 41 and had an OPS+ of 92.

    He is another case where his candidacy becomes an interesting debate because of recent developments in how we gauge a players performance. As many others have pointed out, we may find as these metrics are refined(especially for defense) that there may some adjustments. The HOF will still be waiting for people like Edgar and McGriff and Lofton 10 or 15 years from now, but if they are elected now, they are HOF'ers forever. I think we all see cases where players have been voted in either prematurely or where it was done when we didn't fully understand what we were looking at.

  75. When comparing relative values, here's a thought (though it's somewhat apples and oranges).

    Gar still has more than four times as many innings on the field defensively than Mariano Rivera.

    Closers are deemed so important, Rivera has had such a long and prosperous career and is considered a lock for the Hall, Edgar spent so few innings on defense, yet...

    Closer vs. DH. You tell me who has contributed more.

  76. @72 Interesting comparison re: Koufax vs. Ferrell. Koufax was clearly the better pitcher but Ferrell was such a better hitter that he beats Koufax in overall WAR (53.3 vs. 48.7). Career-length in terms of games, starts, and innings pitched were quite similar. Yet Koufax got in on the first ballot and Ferrell never got more than 3.6% of the vote.

  77. BTW, Edgar was also successful on 14 of 17 basestealing attempts between the ages of 36-38.

  78. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #71/ Andy G. - Even comparing Edgar to Ralph Kiner, we still come back to the question of what sort of deduction to give Edgar for being mostly a DH (and almost exclusively a DH after 1994). Many people have argued that Kiner had no value in the same way as Manny Rameriz has no value, but I disagree:

    - most fielding plays are routine, but there is always the possibility of injury. Edgar wasn't a terrible fielder, but he kept getting injured, so the reason he DHed is different than why David Ortiz did, but the RESULT is the same; neither one could play in the field (beyond token appearancees).
    - Kiner played some in center his first couple years. Most truly awful outfielders aren't allowed anywhere near center.

    Red Sox fans, remember Sam Horn?? He could hit some, but just could not play first base - I heard that they hit him thousands of balls in fielding practice and he did OK, but he just couldn't do the job at all in an actual game. Now the Red Sox would've loved to have played him at first, same as they would've loved to play David Ortiz at 1B, but he just wasn't up to the job. THAT is why I think Ralph Kiner and Manny Ramirez have defensive value greater than zero, and they should be given credit for that, whereas Dave Ortiz and Edgar Martinez should be penalized somewhat for not playing the field (in their later years). I still think Edgar has enough offensive value to overcome this and (barely) belong in the HOF.

  79. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Interesting point on Kiner playing center, and I think Forbes Field had a lot of ground to cover. But it was only his first season, and it looks like Pittsburgh just didn't have anyone else to play there. Jim Russell, who had established himself in left, was made the primary CF the following season. And there was then a revolving door of CFers over the next several seasons, but Kiner never got another shot.

    Who are the worst outfielders to make more than a token appearance in CF? Pete Incaviglia played 37 games there for Texas -- maybe that was just to ensure Kevin Reimer didn't.

  80. @76, you get in the HOF for being great, Koufax was great at pitching, Ferrell was not great at pitching and average at hitting (100 OPS+) even though he was amazing as a hitting pitcher.

  81. I usually ask not whether I would put a player in, but would the writers. I look at the tepid support Harold Baines got as primarily a DH and conclude Martinez will be a tough sell. I think it also hurts that Martinez played outside the media meccas and was not a high-profile player like Ken Griffey Jr. or Randy Johnson or Ichiro.

    So my belief is that he won't get in or will get in only after hanging around on the ballot for a decade or more.

    If Martinez had done all this as a Yankee or Red Sox, I think he gets in. Doing all that in the Pacific Northwest is almost as bad as doing all of it in Canada. Then toss in the anti-DH bias that a certain percentage feel and I think it will be a tough candidacy.

  82. no sarcasm, Andy. Swear to God. It's a good observation.

  83. Johnny Twisto (#79),

    It's mind-boggling to me that Glenallen Hill ever got 71 starts in center field...or anywhere with a glove, for that matter!

  84. @80 Koufax was perceived as great, Ferrell wasn't. But perceptions aren't always accurate. And WAR clearly shows that Ferrell contributed more to his team's winning than Koufax did to his. And it shouldn't matter where those contributions (negative or positive) come from...everything matters. Which was @72's point.

  85. And we're now back to the WAR again. Ferrell's WAR 53. 3 with hitting, Koufax 48.7 WAR with hitting. Koufax did his in 300 IP less and a few seasons less too. Koufax was lights out for 6-7 seasons with 3 WS championships. Ferrell never sniffed the playoffs. Koufax hands down despite having a very, very short career.

  86. @84, all WAR shows is that Ferrell played longer than Koufax

  87. I was an avid Mariner's fan in Edgar's hey day.

    It's pretty impossible to argue against his offensive numbers, especially from a rate perspective.
    The WAR numbers speak for themselves.

    And while I am a statistician myself, I must speak in favor of Edgar not from a numbers' standpoint, but from the standpoint of a fan watching what he did for the Mariners. His presence on the bench brought a calm and serious, but loose approach that rubbed off on and made the other players around him better. Without him, they do not succeed from 95-03. He ate up pitches and pitchers.

    His impact was significant. The fact he was a DH shouldn't count against him because contributed so greatly as a DH. Having HIM as the DH in the line up made the Mariners significantly better. He was great at his position, and won us many, many games playing it. Greatness is what belongs in the hall and that is Edgar.

  88. Andy, just curious if this Edgar poll was triggered by a posting on twitter i sent to the baseball-reference page. If so I'm glad i could help trigger this debate!

    I'm no expert but watching Edgar hit as a mariner's fan growing up, there was simply almost no one better from the right side of the plate. For him to continue hitting at the pace he did so late into his career is phenomenal. Yes he didn't hit very many home runs, which people are knocking him for, but that's partly because he wasn't juicing up like so many of his counterparts during the era. his fielding starts are not bad, and even though he spent way more time as a DH then anything else it's unjustified to take that away from him, as it was a managerial decision to hit him there. As long as the DH is a valid position, they should not have their Hall credentials damaged because of it.

  89. Phil Haberkorn Says:

    The DH rule was not devised BY hitters who could not run or play the field. It was devised FOR hitters who could not run or play the field. Therefore, DHing for most of a guy's career should not be a factor in HOF voting for or against him. While speed can get you to the HOF (RHenderson, LBrock), lack of speed shouldn't keep you out (Harry Chiti was notoriously slow, yet it didn't seem to affect his chances for the HOF, there were other reasons not to vote for him...:) Edgar Martinez was paid to hit. He played by the rules. Given that, how far above average was he? I see only two HOFers, Cepeda and Klein, in the "most like" comparisons on Martinez's page. He was most like lots of guys who aren't in the HOF. So why vote for him? I can't find a reason.

  90. He is one of 12 players a .930+ OPS and 8500 PA to be eligible for the Hall of Fame and the only one not make it.

  91. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #89/ Phil Haberkorn Says: "...Therefore, DHing for most of a guy's career should not be a factor in HOF voting for or against him."

    Phil, I disagree somewhat; as several people have alluded to, there's both offense and defense, and a DH contibutes literally nothing to the defensive side. Now, while there are some players who make fairly small contributions, at least they are on the field filling a position. I made this argument in #78 comparing Edgar to Ralph Kiner. Just as I would not exclude a DH from being worthy of MVP votes, I would not exclude a DH from HOF consideration. In both cases though, I would want the DH's offensive value to be equal to the position player's combined (offense + defense) value, to get equivalent credit.

  92. Ask Buck Showalter if he belongs. I don't think it's too far-fetched to suggest that the Yanks could have gone 5 for 6 from '95 to '00 if it wasn't for Edgar. If so, Buck stays on and he, and not Joe Torre, get all the accolades that come with managing a team like that. And who would be managing the O's today?

  93. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Earl Weaver?

  94. #80

    That's exactly right. Koufax was a such terrific pitcher that he got in despite a shorter career and an ineptitude with the bat. And deservedly so, I think. Ferrell's someone who should get more attention than he does, because people tend to ignore hitting contributions for pitchers, but Koufax was great enough in one key aspect of the game that his talent should be immortalized despite the shortcomings. While it's important to recognize players like Ferrell as guys who achieved value in unusual ways, I also don't think the Hall should be simply a matter of sorting by career WAR and selecting guys above a certain level.

    I look at Edgar much in the same way. A cursory look at his similar player lists shows quite a few questionable choices, but in most cases the players are guys who started earlier and had very good careers, but either never reached the heights Edgar did or faded earlier. That there are so few players with similar career numbers who started as late as Edgar lends support to the idea that he was almost certainly ready to contributed everyday well before he did.

    From age 27 through 40, Edgar Martinez averaged .317/.426/.531 with 27 HR and 104 and a 153 OPS+ per 162 games over a 14-year extended peak. If you prefer to look at a narrower peak, he hit .325/.437/.558 with 30 HR and 115 RBI and a 159 OPS+ per 162 games over a decade from 1992 to 2001. The man was simply a fantastic hitter over a long period of time. It would be a shame to keep that kind of talent out of the Hall, regardless of other shortcomings.

  95. @75

    I'm surprised no one even replied to your comment, which I have to agree with.

    Mo is exceptional for his position, which is to pitch 1 to (very rarely) 2 innings in roughly a third of the games in a season. That isn't really a heck of a lot. Closers also have the luxury of not having to face batters more than once in a game, so it puts as large advantage in their hands. I don't see how that is so much better and more valuable to a team than what a hitter does over the course of a season at the caliber of Edgar Martinez.

    So, if relief pitchers can get into the hall of fame (as several have in the last decade), then why can't a player who DH'd two-thirds of his career while hitting at a very, very high level?

  96. "His '94 season, despite John DiFool's protestations, was truncated due to his being his on the wrist by a Dennis Martinez fastball on Opening Day.

    He missed all but four of the Mariners' first 27 games, and essentially had to re-start his whole year from scratch in early-May.

    "...missed only 23 of 112 games"? That's 20% of the season!"

    And your point is...? It was truncated 23 games by his injury, and 50 games by the strike. Tim Raines has also been subject to the same bias by those who forget his solid 1994 year was shortened by the strike, so they think he was a part-time player/was injured. Add those games back in (+ 1995's) and EMart's close to 9000 PA.

    #61, you're quoting the guy I quoted.

  97. I've long struggled with the positional adjustments for DH, since it really isn't a position, but a lackthereof. The guy isn't negatively contributing to defense... he just isn't contributing at all. It's almost like giving batters negative WAR points for pitching, since they didn't make any contributions there.

    Perhaps we should re-evaluate how we look at defensive stats? Rather than considering runs saved, how about outs created? Maybe that is too different and doesn't get at what we want, but some stat where the baseline is 0, for lack of contribution, and it goes up from there. Maybe Prince Fielder is a 1 while Ozzie Smith is a 900, and DHs stay at 0.

    I'll be the first to admit I don't fully understand the position adjustments, though I have a sense of them in theory, both on the offensive and defensive side. But DH has always thrown me for a loop.

  98. Let me first say that I am a National League fanboy and I hate, hate, HATE the DH. That being said, I don't think you can immediately disqualify a player who excelled as a DH from the Hall of Fame because he essentially only played "half the game" without first deciding that you're also going to disqualify all American League pitchers for their lack of offensive stats. Are they also not guilty of playing only "half the game"?

    Whether myself of the BBWAA like the DH is irrelevant... or, it should be at least. All that should matter is whether or not it was a legitimate and legal part of the game in which the batter put up the statistics. If it is, then all you can do is compare the player against his contemporaries and see where he stacks up and whether or not that leaves him worthy of enshrinement or not. In this case, I may not like seeing line-up cards with a name filled in next to the letters DH, but that doesn't change the fact that since every AL team makes such a line-up card every day (barring interleague play) of the season that we can't merely discount or discredit those players. And, as long as we are including them, it would be hard not to say that Edgar Martinez should be a slam dunk for Cooperstown.

  99. FWIW, I've generally been opposed to the DH, because I prefer the level of strategy that the NL approach requires (though I also cringe at the rash of over-managing we see as a result). Trying to wrap my head around how to value the DH has made me officially opposed to the DH.

    I really can't figure out what to make of it. Does the worst defender imaginable offer more defensive value than a DH? In some ways, I have to think yes, by the mere fact that he has to catch a ball here and there. And in some ways, the obvious answer is no because a guy that bad is actively hurting his team in a way that the DH can't. And now I'm just confused. :-(

  100. John DiFool (#96),

    The difference is that everyone who played in '94 lost the same 50 or so games to the lockout that Raines lost.

    But Edgar not only lost those games, he lost an additional 20% percent of the games that Raines and others did get to play.

  101. "Edgar Martinez was paid to hit. He played by the rules. Given that, how far above average was he? ...He was most like lots of guys who aren't in the HOF. So why vote for him? I can't find a reason."

    He had 566 batting runs, 29th all time. The guys who had offense like him (surrounding him on the list) are Chipper Jones and Mike Schmidt. Clearly Edgar has disadvantages to his case as well with his limited defensive value, but it's pretty silly to say you can't find a single reason to vote for Edgar. The obvious reason is he was one of the best hitters of all time.

  102. "For Martinez to be considered, as a lifetime DH, he would need to have had his '95 season for 15 straight years. Or, put up his current production at 3B."

    This is a totally unfair double standard. If Edgar hit as well as he did as a full career 3B, he would be fighting for a slot as a top-5 all time 3B. The real Hall of Fame standard is nowhere close to that level -- that's more like the "inner circle."

    Every AL team mans the DH slot. Edgar towered above the average DH and towered above whatever anyone thinks was a replacement DH. It doesn't make sense if you care about how much a player contributed to winning games to require a HOF DH to tower over his peers far more than a player at another position needs to tower over his peers. At any two positions, if you are worth X more runs than your peers, you will contribute the same amount to winning games.

  103. "I really can't figure out what to make of it. Does the worst defender imaginable offer more defensive value than a DH? In some ways, I have to think yes, by the mere fact that he has to catch a ball here and there. And in some ways, the obvious answer is no because a guy that bad is actively hurting his team in a way that the DH can't. And now I'm just confused. "

    Here's where the concept of replacement value comes in. You only get credit for runs produced on offense and defense above a certain minimum threshold (what your minimum salary AAA free agent provides). For shortstop over a full season that level is something like -30 runs hitting with average fielding or -20 hitting with -10 fielding or any other combination summing to 30 runs below average. For first base, that level is something like -12 hitting with average defense or average hitting with -12 defense or any other combination equal to -12. DH is the exact same concept, except all DHs provide 0 defense, so their value is whatever they produce on offense above the replacement level (Bref's WAR assumes about -5).

    Yes, the worst defenders imaginable do offer less defensive value than a DH. These terrible defenders shouldn't be out in the field and should instead be put at DH to maximize their value (which may require a trade to the AL). It's no different from putting Prince Fielder in CF -- he would catch some number of fly balls no doubt, but he'd be hurting the team by playing far below replacement level defense, so he would need to be moved to a position that he could actually handle. Prince is now at 1B because he can't handle anything else and his shortcomings are limited, and he's probably still bad enough there he should just move to DH once he leaves the Brewers. If it makes sense to credit a horrible defensive SS less than an average defensive 3B, which it clearly does, it makes sense to credit a horrible defensive 1B below an average defensive DH (ie, every DH).

  104. Edgar will never make it in and really doesn't deserve to be in. Since he was a full-time DH for most of his career, I believe he would have needed dominating offensive stats over a long period of time to get in. He would also have hit one of the batting landmarks such as 500 Homers and/or 3000 hits. He did not reach either milestone and was no better than 3rd in any MVP voting. This shows he was never a dominating player and was never considered a dominating player.

    A full time DH that does not put up dominate offensively and is not considered dominating cannot be a Hall of Famer.

  105. Josh-

    Thanks.

    I guess the DH is still hard to calculate because there isn't really a relationship between the defensive value and the offensive value. For instance, if Pujols, Teixeira, Fielder, and Braun slid over to SS, my understanding is that "replacement level" for SS offense would rise, because of the new-found offensive strength there. So the offensive numbers of SS would suddenly look worse relative to their position. BUT, we would also anticipate their defensive value would rise because Pujols et al would drag down the defensive ratings there.

    But we can't say the same for DH. If all the elite hitters moved to DH, suddenly the best DHs look a lot less impressive. But there is no mitigating factor in the defense because the defense doesn't count.

    Basically, if you slid Pujols over to 2B, it's still quite possible that Cano would rank as a better 2B than him, because Pujols edge in batting would be mitigated by Cano's edge in defense (granted, Cano's D isn't great, but we can probably assume he's better than Pujols).

    But if Pujols slides over to DH, he's suddenly the best DH, no questions asked.

    DH's almost need to be set on a different scale or something.

    (Note: I realize Pujols may not be the best guy to use, since other guys may be having better individual seasons, but let's just go with him being the best and comparable to the past few years for argument's sake.)

  106. Eleven Is In Says:

    Edgar absolutely deserves to be in.

    The guy was a hitting machine. For those who are saying his numbers fall short, I suspect you're not looking at the right numbers.

    Here are a few things I just looked up on Edgar.

    Consider his seven year prime from 1995-2001. Yes, this is cherry picking his best years. But you can't cherry pick just anyone's best years and have it come off as impressive as what Edgar did. From 95-01, here is where he ranked in all of MLB:

    2nd in OBP (Bonds .449, .Edgar .446)
    3rd in OPS+ (Bonds 188, McGwire 183, Edgar 163)
    2nd in Times on Base (Bagwell 2045, Edgar 1996)
    1st in 2B (Edgar 291, Grace 277)
    4th in BB (Bonds 913, Bagwell 812, Thome 785, Edgar 750)
    5th in AVG (Gwynn .350, Coors-Assisted Walker .341, Coors-Assisted Helton .334, Nomar .332, Edgar .329)
    5th in OPS (McGwire 1.113, Bonds 1.098, Coors-Assisted Walker 1.068, Coors Assisted Helton 1.038, Edgar 1.020)

    For context, he was 11th in PA and 21st in G during those years.

    That's pretty freaking dominant.

    As for his career, he had 10 seasons of a .400 or higher OBP while qualifying for the batting title.

    Only 13 other guys in history have done that: Cobb, Ruth, Speaker, Collins, Bonds, Musial, Ott, Rickey, Williams, Gehrig, Foxx, Boggs, Hornsby. Pretty good company.

    Even when you look at the guys who have done it nine times, they're all HOFers or will-be HOFers: Pujols, Manny, Thomas, Thome, Gehringer, Waner, Heilmann, Wagner, Coors-Assisted Helton.

    Edgar also had 8 years of qualifying for the batting title with slash lines over .300/.400/.500. The only players that have more than that who aren't in the HOF haven't been eligible yet. Bonds 11, Pujols 9, Manny 9. The other guys who have tied Edgar with 8 such years are Mantle, Thomas, Chipper and Ott. Even when you knock it down to 7 years, two of the three are in the HOF (Sheffield is the third) and 3 of the 4 with 6 such years are in the HOF (the fourth is Helton). And in this case, the round-number cutoffs of .300/.400/.500 actually aren't helping Edgar, because he just misses a ninth season at .294/.406/.489.

    Edgar also had 8 years of qualifying for the batting title with an OPS+ of 150 or better. Everyone eligible with 8 years or more of a 150 OPS+ is in the Hall of Fame except for Dick Allen, who also has 8. (The ineligible guys are Bonds with 14, Pujols with 10, Manny with 9, Thomas and Thome with 8.) If you knock it down to 7 such years with an OPS+ over 150, seven players have done it and they are all in the HOF. Ten guys have 6 such years, and most of them are HOFers or HOF caliber (Reggie, Killebrew, Heilmann, Stargell, A-Rod, McGwire, Bagwell, Piazza, Sheffield, Walker).

    The bottom line is that Edgar was an on-base machine. Your job as a hitter is to get on base. Edgar did it as well as anyone. He hit for average, hit for power, drew a ton of walks and hit a ton of doubles. I suspect that most of the people who are so strongly against his candidacy must either really hate the DH or not understand the importance of OBP.

  107. Edgar Martinez's HOF Standards score sits at 50 and his HOF Monitor is at 132.

  108. "For instance, if Pujols, Teixeira, Fielder, and Braun slid over to SS, my understanding is that "replacement level" for SS offense would rise,"

    It depends on how you define replacement level, but as I do (the quality of freely available minor league talent who can be picked up to man the position for league minimum salary), your premise doesn't really change the replacement level. You do change the average though.

    "If all the elite hitters moved to DH, suddenly the best DHs look a lot less impressive."

    This is true, because you change the average and the top echelon, but again the replacement level would be about the same. You'd just have more stars at DH (more guy with big WAR totals) and fewer stars at 1B/LF. Pujols and Teix would of course put up much lower WARs as a DH than as a 1B, because their defense is good. It would only make sense for a manager to put a really bad defender (like a Prince Fielder) as a DH if he was trying to maximize his team's WAR (and his team's won-loss record).

    What you're saying is not a phenomenon that only exists with the DH position. It could also have been said when Arod/Jeter/Nomar were at short (what if we moved them all to 3B -- then all 3B would look worse) and many other times (Schmidt at 1B, Bonds at 1B, Mays in LF/1B, Honus anywhere but SS). You play a hitter at the hardest position they can handle decently and stay healthy (Edgar/Molitor).

  109. Josh-

    I agree with what you are saying from a practical standpoint. But, statistically speaking, it is my understanding that Replacement Level is calculated based at least in part on the quality of the position at the time. There is no way to statistically assess actual replacement level based on what quality of player is available... you simply couldn't do it.

    I realize I may be mixed up on replacement level and that it may be positional scarcity/adjustments that are impacted by the production at the given position, but I'm pretty confident that, one way or another, the contemporary crop of players impacts some of these statistical evaluations. And, as such, it would definitely seem to indicate that DH needs to be evaluated differently.

    Basically, most positions have reached a point where the offensive and defensive expectations are in equilibrium. Or, to put it better, the offensive and defensive expectations are roughly inversely proportional (we could get into a chicken/egg as to which causes which). So, at positions with lower defensive value/production/expectations, there are higher offensives values/production/expectations and vice versa. But when we throw DH into the mix, we are ONLY looking at offense because there IS no defensive component.

    So, when we evaluate a SS, we can say, "This guy is quality in spite of his poor offensive numbers because of his superior defense," or, "This guy is truly stellar because he puts up superior offensive numbers and contributes at a demanding defensive position. At 1B, we'd look at players and say, "This guy's poor offense is compounded by his limited defensive contributions," or, "This guy's elite numbers are somewhat limited by his positional adjustment."

    But when you look at the DH, all you can say is, "This guy's numbers are what they are."

    To make a bad analogy, when you look at offensive adjusted for position, you are putting offense in the numerator of the fraction and defense in the denominator. So how do you compare that to an offensive player who has no defensive position and, thus, nothing to put in the denominator? It's apples and oranges.

  110. There are, in my opinion, two paths to Cooperstown. Either a player has a career of such length and quality that he puts up numbers above a certain level (Molitor, Brock, etc) or he has a shorter career of such great quality that the failure to reach various milestones is no longer an issue (the Koufax route). Some just barely get over the bar for either path and others fly so far beyond that no debate is necessary. Those bars are not the same for everyone. Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel, Alan Trammel don't need to leap over the same bar as a corner outfielder. Catchers, middle infielders and to a lesser extent third basemen suffer more wear and tear in the field than first basemen, corner OF's and obviously DH's. Personally, I think Edgar Martinez accomplished enough to get elected. However, one can not completely ignore the fact that for most of his career he had no position. It is not a black and white issue. You can not say no DH can get in the HoF just as one can not just look at his offensive numbers and compare him to infielders and catchers. Same thing with rate stats. You can not just look at BA/OBP/SLG and ignore length of career as shown by counting stats. His rate stats are acceptable (to me) with his career length. However, there is no denying that it would be more impressive if maintained over a longer career and less impressive if over a shorter career. Reasonable people can disagree about how much of a career is necessary for different results to be acceptable for the different level of defensive contribution. Bottom line, being a DH doesn't exclude his induction, but his numbers are not such that no debate is necessary.

  111. masternachos Says:

    I must say, I am 'quite' intrigued over whether or not (and by how much) Edgar Martinez' vote percentages will increase over the next two years... Was there a significant 'not a FIRST ballot guy, but in' factor last year? Only time will tell...

  112. "But, statistically speaking, it is my understanding that Replacement Level is calculated based at least in part on the quality of the position at the time. "

    I've seen many ways of calculating replacement level. Some look at the worst group of players in the league, some take some fraction of the average (a poorer method), some assume a certain statistical distribution of talent and imply a theoretical replacement level, and there are probably other methods as well. I don't think there's a right answer, and for the most part it doesn't matter since moving the baseline by a few runs won't change the ordering of players. The "contemporary crop" of players should influence the replacement level, but it shouldn't be the top-level contemporary crop players (like when Mays/Mantle/Snider made average CF offensive levels incredibly high briefly) that effect replacement, it should be the quality of the bottom-level players in each era who really are the replacements.

    I do agree with your other statements about offense and defense being in equilibrium for other positions, and I take it a step farther... There's no reason to think DH is not in equilibrium, more or less, too. I do disagree with the numerator/denominator analogy where an equation breaks down because you can't divide by zero. Value is additive. You don't have a divide-by-zero problem. The offensive numbers for a DH are what they are, and you knock them down by some amount to reflect the very easy positional difficulty for being a DH. For every other position, you take offense plus defense above a replacement player plus a position adjustment, which may be positive or negative depending on the position. It's really the same equation for a DH or position player.

  113. I think it's inevitable that he'll make it in eventually, for a combination of four reasons:

    1. I think voters will continue to move forward in accepting the validity of more advanced stats. That's not to say the voters will all become statheads in the future, but we'll see fewer who reject the notion of stats outright. That they're beginning to invite some stat-savvy internet writers into the BBWAA will help with this process as well. What this means is that I think we'll see fewer voters stuck in the 300, 500, 3000 mindset, and more willing to accept things like OBP and ever WAR as useful tools.

    2. While the lack of colorful personality kept Edgar out of the spotlight and probably hurt his initial vote total, that he's always been seen as one of the good guys in the game will prevent him from falling into the Dick Allen trap, where voters don't vote for him simply because they dislike the man.

    3. As we move forward, there will be more voters who grew up with the DH, and more who accept it simply as a part of the game, regardless of whether they favor AL or NL style ball. We'll see a smaller number of voters reject him outright because they refuse to vote for a DH.

    4. There's an award named after him! That'll keep his name in circulation, and it'll reinforce the notion that the man could flat out hit, and perhaps even add a little extra mystique to him. If there was an official Bert Blyleven Award given to the pitcher with the best curveball, how much would that have helped propel his campaign forward?

    He might not get in soon, but I'd be awfully surprised if he doesn't make it in eventually.

  114. Stuntman_1988 Says:

    Edgar was a great hitter, but DH'ing for nearly a decade keeps him on the outside of Cooperstown looking in, but definitely with his nose pushed up against the glass.

  115. He definitely deserves it, though I don't think he'll make it. In my opinion, he would probably be in the top half of the hall of fame. I have him ranked as the 92nd best player of all time. He's 8th among eligibles not in the hall, and 2 of the people ahead of him are banned, and 1 is going to get in next time for sure.

  116. Nope. Don't even have to think twice. Played during an extreme offensive-oriented period in baseball, yet only once did he finish in the top five in MVP voting, and only five times during his 18-year MLB career. Solid, but hardly screams dominating hitter. His OPS+ of 147 is strong, yet Dick Allen had a 156 and is not sniffing the HOF, and Allen actually played the field. Edgar didn't even play 600 games in the field, limiting his contributions, yet being a DH extended his career into his 40s, yet he wasn't able to compile great counting stats. So his peak was dominating enough, he wasn't a great compilier, and he was only a DH. Fine hitter, no doubt. NOT a HOFer!

  117. empirically when players are playing DH as opposed to the field, they hit worse than they do normally
    ---------------------------------------------

    This is a nonsense stat. (Not sure who said it above.) For one, it's not uncommon for players to rotate between a postion and DH, and when a position player is selected to be a DH in a game it's because the player is most likely tired or injured, which means his offensive contributions will be limited. Add in that unlike Edgar Martinez who DH'd pretty much all the time, most position players are not adapted to the DH slot because they don't play there that often. Edgar Martinez was better at it because he didn't play the field, meaning he was both healthier and fresher and less likely to get injured, and he was simply used to being the DH, advantages that other players just don't get.

    A DH can be elected to the HOF, yet he'd have to put up some pretty spectacular hitting numbers, both peak and cumulative, to overcome the one-dimensional nature of his game. Yes, it is Martinez's fault he's a DH because he wasn't good enough to regularly play the field. This had to be included in the equation. Edgar was good. He just wasn't anywhere near good enough.

  118. MikeD (#117),

    Edgar was not the best third baseman in the league, but his work there had become adequate, until he tore up a hamstring. He was moved to the DH position largely as a precautionary measure.

    Many hitters do have a fall-off when they DH, because they find it difficult to maintain the same level of preparedness. Or, they literally go stir-crazy, trying to figure out how to keep themselves occupied. It requires a totally diferent mindset.

    Some, like Frank Thomas, couldn't stand it. He always maintained that he preferred to play first base (however poorly), and the numbers bear him out:

    As a first baseman: .337/.453/.625/1.058. As a designated hitter: .275/.394/.505/.899

    I checked a few other guys. Here's Jason Giambi:

    As a first baseman: .297/.422/.554/.976. As a designated hitter: .244/.383/.471/.854

    Reggie Jackson:

    As a right fielder: .277/.367/.526/.893. As a designated hitter: .227/.332/.407/.739

    Albert Belle:

    As a left fielder: .305/.379/.604/.984. As a designated hitter: .271/.335/.460/.795

    That's pretty empirical!

  119. We can't punish him for being a DH, the guy was a truly special and amazing hitter, he will break the mold and get into the HOF.

  120. Martinez is intriguing, but he is basically the best DH of all-time --yes, this only goes back almost 40 years, but one guy in 40 years isn't a lot. Yes, Molitor and Thomas DH'd a lot, but Molitor was more a fielder for many years, and Thomas at least played 40% of his games in the field. I don't like the DH much, and I do think the fact someone DH's all the time should be factored in. His counting numbers are OK, but he was a hitting machine with a very nice peak. He's just barely in in my book.

  121. I was just checking some OPS+ and WAR numbers and there seems to have been a significant recalculation overnight with players dropping 0.6-0.7 in WAR and 8-10 points in OPS+ across the board. Anyone know why? I know these numbers can shift slightly, but not by that much.

  122. #121 Do you mean for 2010 numbers?

  123. I happened to check Jeter and Posada --their WAR's for this year dropped 0.6-0.7 and OPS+ dropped across all years. Edgar's numbers seemed to stay the same. i know there's shifts in these numbers, but it never seems to be more than .1 at a time.

  124. Matt, I've sent a message to the powers-that-be about it, but have you seen changes for players other than Yankees? It's possible that there was a recalculation of park effect numbers or something like that.

  125. I just got confirmation that this change is due to park factor changes (good guess by me!) and there is a blog post coming later today about it.

  126. Cool. Thanks. It does make sense, given Pettite's WAR also jumped from 50.1 to 50.6. i guess Yankee stadium is playing better offensively.

  127. blockquote cite="Was there a significant 'not a FIRST ballot guy, but in' factor last year?">

    For Alomar and Larkin there almost certainly was, yes.

    #118: The "DH Effect" can be confounded by the general trend for a player to do more DH-ing during his decline years. But even if you look at it on a year-by-year basis, the effect remains.

  128. I see that those HTML codes don't work (just as I suspected)...

  129. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "I usually ask not whether I would put a player in, but would the writers. I look at the tepid support Harold Baines got as primarily a DH and conclude Martinez will be a tough sell. "

    And here I thought Harold Baines got tepid support because he was nowhere near good enough to be a hall of famer.

    I keep hearing Harold Baines brought up in conversations about players that are so far ahead of him in career value it isn't funny.

    Baines career OPS+ is 120. His *best* season hitting was 144 OPS+. Edgar on the other hand, *averaged* 147 for his career. There is no comparison. Harold Baines, after accounting for his defensive liability both positional adjustment and fielding from when he played, was basically an average player. If you look at his WAR stats breakdown, he has 361 Rrep, and 364 total runs for his career. His Rbat was 283, and he gave all but 3 of those runs up between slowness, GIDPs, playing RF poorly for 1/3 of his games, and DHing the rest.

    Gar on the other hand, produced 556 runs above average with his bat, in 2500 fewer PAs than Baines. Baines was a solid hitter, but just average for the set of guys who are defensive liabilities.

    Edgar was one of the best hitters of his generation. Huge average, huge OBP, and middlin' power. We can debate whether the DH penalty is big enough. JT has a good argument that the penalty should be as big as the fielding + positional penalty that the worst regular fielding players have, and that's going to be a bit bigger than what WAR uses. But even imposing that penalty, it just brings him down to the low 60s WAR, which is still HoF caliber, just on the borderline.

    Baines isn't even *close* to being borderline. He was an average player that hung around 22 years. If there's anybody who thinks he belongs, it's because they are paying too much attention to counting stats.

  130. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I did some fooling around with the play index. The highest -fielding total in there for a career is -136, and there are about 15 guys in history with < -100 runs.

    If I qualify the list with only those who had their fielding runs worse than -.02*PAs (an average of -10 per 500 PAs), I find only Ricky Gutierrez was left in for a full -100 (actually -112) fielding runs at that rate. If I back the rate to -.016 (or -10 runs in 625 PAs), then I get about 5 guys with -100 runs.

    So, I'll back this rate as a decent proxy for what the difference should be between a 1B and DH positional adjustment. effectively -10 runs per year. And yes, this means that for a full time DH to be replacement level, they have to be league average at everything they do as DH (bat + baserunning). That seems appropriate to me. A guy who is a among the worst 1B/LF/RF probably has to bat league average or close to be replacement level also.

    The grounds I'm using (and that I assume JT is using) is that Managers have put guys in the field rather than DHing or benching them who have given up 10 runs a year defensively. Even if Edgar wouldn't have done that, the presumption is that they wouldn't have made him a DH, if they thought that the combination of his fielding and the extra injury risk wouldn't have kept him from being more valuable than a -10 run guy if they played him at 1B.

    So I think it's fair to hit him with 10 runs per full year, which would make the DH positional penalty -20 runs, and bring him down to around 61 WAR. Still a pretty good hall of fame argument at that number, but close to the borderline.

  131. The Baines v. Martinez comparison is an instance of people deciding an okay apple is a better apple than a great orange. Baines' path to the HoF would have been based on accumulating stats and on that path he needed to pass one of the silly magic milestones (500 HR, 3,000 hits, etc) since his quality was not of such a level to go in despite missing the milestones. Martinez, if he goes in, will gain admittance based on the exceptional level maintained over 16 years rather than career totals. Baines was a major league regular at 21 years old and because of that he ended up playing around 800 more games. However, it was with a career line of .289/.356/.465 & OPS+ of 122. A very good career. However, it hardly compares to Martinez' production in 2055 games of .312/.418/.515 & OPS+ of 147. Not even close. A fantastic hitter for 2055 games is much better than a good hitter for 2830 games.

  132. Baines' reputation is helped by two things...he was one of the few consistently-good players on the White Sox for a team that wasn't very good for years. What I mean is that he was good and was there for a long time..they had some other good players come and go, but he was the mainstay along with Fisk. Also, he was a hell of a nice guy.

    This causes some people to remember him as a better player than he was.

    Don't get me wrong, though--I loved the guy. One of my all-time favorites.

  133. StuntMan_1988 Says:

    Sometimes, I want to include players I like in the HOF so I'll use the "well, THIS guy got in, so why not THAT guy? as a justification to put someone in. HI did that with Steve Garvey for YEARS. However, I eventually end up thinking better of it.

    In Edgar's case, based on others already in the Hall, I would put him in, but honestly, he shouldn't belong. Same thing for Baines. I love these two players, but I have to maintain a certain standard for myself, even if the HOF sometimes doesn't.

  134. JeffW @118, I'm not disputing that players' production might be lower as DHs than when they're playing positions. What I am disputing is the reason(s) why. Because the numbers of position players are lower when they DH does not signal some special skill that Edgar Martinez had compared to other players. It's simply a function of how he was used compared to other players who also played a position.

    For example, you noted Reggie Jackson's career stats as a DH compared to when he played the field. Well of course his hitting numberx were better when he played a position. He played the field when he was younger and at his physical peak, and he DH'd more as he was older and in decline. Jackson first came to the majors in 1967, while the DH didn't appear until '73. He led the A.L. in OPS+ four years, the last being in 1976, yet at that point he had only appeared in approximately 40 games as a DH throughout his then ten-year career. The bulk of his DHing occured at the end of his career from 1983-1987, when he overall hit .227. He was at the end of his fine career, but long past being the impact player of his peak years when he played the field. That's reflected in his DH numbers. And last, keep in mind that even when he would DH as a younger man he was doing so because he being given a rest because he appeared to be tired or had a minor injury, which would also impact his numbers.

    Same with Frank Thomas. His peak years ran up through age 29. He was still a productive hitter after, and even had one more very Frank Thomas year in 2000, but for the most part part from age 30 forward he was no longer a .300 hitter/40 HR guy. Age 30 was also the first year he ever appeared in more than 100 games at DH as injuries and other issues reduced him as a player, so of couse his stats as a DH were less than when he played the field.

    Jason Giambi? We all know he not a good fielder and so did his teams. When he was on a hot streak the Yankees would put him in the field because his strong offense could carry his glove. When he was slumping, for whatever reasons, from injuries, fatigue, sushi poisoning, steriod withdrawl, tumors, etc. he would DH, so of course his numbers are lower at DH. I don't question that Giambi would rather play the field, but his lesser hitting at DH can be attributed to other factors. I hear the same nonsense from Yankee fans regarding Jorge Posada, and that he just doesn't hit as well when he DH's. Well of course not. He DH's when he's been so banged up and injured while catching that he can't catch. He's certainly not going to be hitting at his best either.

    Martinez didn't have these problems. His career was built on being a DH. He wasn't DHing when he was past his peak, so his DH numbers wouldn't suffer. He didn't have to adjust to the position like a player who only hits there 10 or 15 times a season. Martinez was doing it 150 times. Martinez wasn't a DH as an injured player. He was healthy as the DH, and indeed being the DH allowed him to stay healthy and play until he was 41 and to accumulate numbers that allowed him to be considered for the HOF.

    In other words, he doesn't get "extra credit" for being a DH. It helped him, it didn't hurt him. So then voters have to put his career in context, understanding that he was helped by being a DH, and then decide if his hitting was enough, both peak and cumulative, to be a HOFer. My answer on that is no.

  135. "His OPS+ of 147 is strong, yet Dick Allen had a 156 and is not sniffing the HOF, and Allen actually played the field. "

    This is a pretty weak argument. Pretty much everyone who knows anything about baseball either thinks Allen belongs in the HOF, or thinks he doesn't belong just because his personality problems hurt his team so much as to offset his ridiculously good, HOF-quality hitting ability (and poor defense). You can't use Allen as a precedent for anyone but an Albert Belle type (who was a much worse player than Allen), which was not Edgar's reputation whatsoever. Very few HOFers hit as well as Allen.

    "Edgar Martinez was better at it because he didn't play the field, meaning he was both healthier and fresher and less likely to get injured, and he was simply used to being the DH, advantages that other players just don't get. "

    Look, there are studies that compared within a season players' hitting at DH and at other positions, and those players as a group hit worse when they were DH than when they played the field. Maybe some or most of the effect is due to their being banged up when DHing, or maybe most of it is due to DHing being hard (which many players have been quoted as saying is the truth and seems to be the case for pinch hitting too). We don't know which effect rules, and probably both effects are true to some extent.

    In any case, let's hypothetically say Edgar was good at being the DH because he was used to it. So what, that's real value toward winning ball games that he contributed above what other teams were getting. Wade Boggs was able to take better advantage of Fenway than the rest of the league because of his style, and that won the Red Sox more games. Honus Wagner was the best player of his era partially because he was the only guy lifting weights. We still give these guys credit for their actual value even though they had some sort of theoretical advantage. Edgar gave much better DH performance than anyone else gave -- we don't need to say that performance was less valuable due to some advantage Edgar had. The performance was the performance and the value was the value.

  136. MikeD (#134),

    Your assessment of Edgar's career fails to account the fact that he hit .302, .307, and .343 -- all as a full-time third baseman -- in the three seasons prior to being hurt, and being shifted to the DH role because of injuries.

    In '92, he led the league in hitting, and in doubles (46), he also hit 18 homers, stole 14 bases, and posted an OPS+ of 170.

    He played 102 games at third base, 28 as the DH, before suffering a ribcage injury in mid-September. He was an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger Award, and finished 12th in the MVP voting. Not bad for a nobody on a 98-loss team out of the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest.

    He batted .335 in games as a third baseman. He did hit .392 in games that he was the designated hitter, and one has to wonder how much better his career numbers would have been, had he not ruptured a hamstring in the final exhibition game entering the '93 season.

    Either way, he was on the road to becoming a top star. The next uninjured season he had was '95, when you can make a legitimate argument that he was robbed of the MVP.

    I hate all the revisionist history that claims Edgar only did well as a DH.

  137. MikeD (#134),

    Edgar's numbers versus Jackson as a DH, matched to age 37-41, completely blow Reggie out of the water. During the same time frame (agewise) that Jackson was DH'ing at his .227 pace, Gar averaged .295/.401/.499/.900, with an OPS+ of 138. He even outhomered Reggie, 111-99.

    Also, Big Hurt started DH'ing full-time (more or less) a year younger than Gar did. Frank was 30 when he was transitioned. Edgar was 31.

    Again, from age 30-40, Martinez was clearly the better hitter: .317/.433/.548/.981, while Thomas hit .276/.389/.515/.904. Thomas never even had a season over .280 after he turned 32.

  138. Josh-

    A bit late to respond, but hopefully you're still reading.

    You are right that my fraction analogy wasn't great. I didn't mean literally that the theory breaks down because you are dividing by zero... more so, that there isn't a bottom half of the fraction. Perhaps the addition/subtraction method you advocated for makes sense.

    It just strikes me as odd to say, "Well, this guy had a defensive contribution, but it was negative, so he takes a hit. Meanwhile, this guy literally had no defensive contribution. He never stepped foot on the field as a defender." Now, I realize that guys are capable of being bad enough defensively to be liabilities and to actually hurt their team. There are absolutely guys out there whose defensive value is below replacement level. So, in practice, I get that.

    It just seems odd to say, "I'm going to have you play only half the game, and you'll contribute more than if you played the whole game." And, for me at least, gets to the problem with the DH in general.

    In theory, it seems we should only compare a DH's offensive contributions to the offensive contributions of others, since he HAS no defensive contribution to compare. Comparing offense+defense for one guy and just offense for another guy is literally apples and oranges. Maybe the positional adjustment for DH should be so high as to make him the worst defender in the league. Maybe that is extreme, because I'm sure there are DHs out there who are moderately capable defenders. But the fact that they don't even step foot on the field should be held against them, in some way.

    Note: Please don't take this as the anti-DH rant that I'm sure it appears. Generally, I'm not a fan of the DH, but I think their value should be recognized since the fact is, they DO exist. I don't think that DHs should be exempt from MVP balloting or the Hall of Fame. I'm just trying to rectify how we accurately compare the total contributions of guys who do play defense and those who don't.

  139. Johnny Twisto Says:

    BSK, FWIW, I think all the questions/issues you've been raising are good ones, ones I have also thought of and am really not sure how to resolve.

  140. BSK, I see what you're saying and why there's a bit of a leap from your position to mine. Most (many?) of us on this forum are comfortable only crediting offense above a certain threshold (say replacement), and I think the same should be true of defense. A replacement position player provides a certain total amount of value -- offense plus defense -- and a replacement DH provides a certain amount of just offense. Most of us think just being on the field on offense is not enough -- you have to perform over a certain minimum standard to get credit, and you get a deduction if you are below that level. I don't see why the same isn't true for defense. DH replacement is set in WAR pretty low such that there are very few position players getting less defensive credit (position adjustment plus fielding value) than a DH, but there can be a handful, just like there are a handful of players hitting below replacement in any season. To me, it seems these position players with horrible defensive scores below that of a DH should have been shifted to DH just like some shortstop with -20 fielding runs should have been shifted to 3B or some other easier position if they could handle it better.

    "But the fact that they don't even step foot on the field should be held against them, in some way."

    The position adjustment being as high as it is accomplishes this goal. I don't mind where this site's version of WAR sets the DH position penalty, but I understand an argument some have made to make it 5 runs a seasons worse (where there would be hardly any position players getting less defensive value than a DH).

  141. JeffW @136 and @137, really, what the heck are you talking about? Please go back and re-read my notes before responding. Your response has nothing to do with the topic being discussed.

  142. Josh @135.

    You are incorrect. While Allen is recognized as a dominant hitter, most do not think he accomplished enough to be in the HOF. It's the same for Albert Belle.

  143. MikeD (#141),

    Forgive me. I get frustrated sometimes. I'm very passionate on Gar.

    I see your problems more with the second of my two posts. The first one goes directly at your (and many other posters') statements that Edgar essentially had no value other than as a DH.

    Your own statement -- "His career was built on being a DH" -- is simply not true. He was becoming a legitimate star in the league while playing third base, as I pointed out in noting his three consecutive .300+ seasons, the third of which resulted in a batting crown and all the other stuff.

    Edgar's hitting was getting better each season. You can't -- I can't -- no one can say what would have come next, had he not been injured. We do have a track record of steady improvement, however, that can't be disputed. And it came before he was removed from the field.

    The other post dealt with the specifics of age in Jackson's and Thomas's cases. Obviously, both players declined quickly at a point Edgar was still going strong.

    Maybe it wasn't not being able to adjust to the DH role itself. Whatever it was, the actual numbers on Jackson don't adhere to what you are saying. To the very end, his hitting was notably better when he played in the field. With advancing age, you would think it would be the opposite.

    In '83, it was a .219 in 182 PA's/.176 in 266 PA's split (field vs. DH). In 1985, however, the split was much more pronounced: .286 in 325 PA's/.206 in 206 PA's (again, the split is PA's while playing a position, versus DH'ing PA's).

    And in 1987, he still managed to hit .343 in 77 plate appearances while playing the outfield, despite batting just .179 in 281 PA's while DH'ing.

    Either he was old and all his numbers were declining, thus resulting in a low average for his DH appearances, or he was simply a better hitter when he was fully involved in the game.

    (I don't include '84 or '86, because he had just 22 total PA's while playing in the field in those seasons, though he hit just .225 and .236 DH'ing those two years)

    If DH'ing itself was not so difficult, and it was the long stretches of playing in the field or injuries that made the numbers look so much worse when he DH'ed, then full-time DH'ing -- with none of the time on defense that wears players down or leads to most of those injuries -- should not have been a factor.

    It might be age, but Jackson continued to hit near his career norms right up to the end when he also played in the field. That leaves the DH'ing itself, possibly the mental aspects, which have been raised many times over the years.

    Ever since the DH debuted, hitters have complained about how difficult it is to maintain readiness and focus. This is a fact.

    As far as Jorge Posada is concerned, it's not just the fans. In the New York Times, June 12 of this year, Posada is quoted:

    “It’s tough to do; it’s not easy,” Posada said of being a designated hitter. “It’s not a like or a dislike. It’s just not like when you play everyday. It’s like pinch-hitting four times. You’ve got to get used to it and learn to be involved and be a part of it.”

    Thomas specifically complained against being forced to DH by pointing out -- correctly -- that he hit better while also playing in the field. Some players adjust better than others.

    Also, while you correctly point out injuries as the reason for his decline and move to DH, you discount that factor in Edgar's transition. You treat him like he was always a DH.

    That just ain't so! And even if it is, then how does that bolster your case for Thomas, when Edgar made such a robust transition? Yes, Edgar DH'ed as a "healthy" player, if, by that, you mean he didn't just DH on days he was hurt. But maybe the upswing in his hitting was going to happen anyway, and DH'ing simply made sure he was in the lineup.

    But injuries were still the reason why Edgar transitioned into a full-time DH, and he continued to excel. He successfully made what to others was a very difficult transition. Paul Molitor did it, too. But after 40 years of DH'ing in baseball, Martinez is still the very best.

    The main difficulty -- his hamstrings -- remained so, right up to his final game. They robbed him of any speed (and potential for leg hits that could have raised his average even higher) he might have ever had. Molitor at least still had good wheels.

  144. The issue I see here is that some folks want to give Edgar "extra credit" beyond his numbers, or ignore that he played most of his career as a DH, because it happened due to injury and not natural lack of speed or fielding ability. I don't subscribe to these concepts because what WAS simply WAS. Edgar's career accomplishments were partially limited; exactly why, I don't care. The only exceptions I can think of along these lines are Negro league players, who I feel deserve special consideration for the HOF in view of the fact that they were denied their right to compete in the major leagues, plus those who missed time for military service. Even here, my 'special consideration' doesn't mean just artificially bumping up their numbers.

  145. #143

    I appreciate your passion for Gar, but you're still talking as woulda, shoulda, coulda's --the fact is, as Andy points out, "WHAT WAS WAS --the fact of the matter is Gar was basically a lifetime DH --that's what happened and there's no way around that. I respect a "no vote" because of these reasons. He basically was a DH from the age of 30-31 on, therefore he only played about ~25% of his career in the field. I originally voted no to Gar b/c of these facts, but then said i would vote yes because he's basically the best career DH we've ever seen since the DH started nearly 40 years ago --that's enough for me. I agree with Andy that the only exceptions are for negro league players and military services.

  146. "The issue I see here is that some folks want to give Edgar "extra credit" beyond his numbers"

    Edgar doesn't really need extra credit. His hitting value is pretty clear, and if you want to use a positional adjustment like WAR does for DH, Edgar is a pretty clear HOF player on achievement. If you want to use a bigger positional penalty (some people proposed another 5 runs penalty per season, which makes DH similar to the worst quality defensive 1B you'll see, if not worse), Edgar is still probably qualified, but he's much closer to the borderline.

    "You are incorrect. While Allen is recognized as a dominant hitter, most do not think he accomplished enough to be in the HOF."

    I guess neither of us should use the word "most" then, since we clearly don't really know what most people think between us. I can tell you that almost any fan who is informed about advanced stats is going to think Allen accomplished enough of the field to be in the HOF (though plenty of these people will penalize him for his behavior enough to hold him out of the Hall). Allen had a 156 OPS+, 17th all time among players with over 6000 PA. His career was short, though not ridiculously short, and some uninformed people may not understand how low scoring the game was in the 1960s, but really the only player remotely like him not in the Hall is McGwire, who is obviously only held out for non-playing reasons. Allen was one of the best hitters of all time. I have no idea how anyone can think that is not enough accomplishment to make the HOF barring his personality problems/ walking out on the team issues. Even Bill James who thinks Allen is Satan now supports him.

  147. Perhaps it's time for a DH wing in the Hall? Like when they added the writers, broadcasters and umpires sections. This way players who shined due to "innovations" in the game aren't necessarily compared to those who exhibited 5 tools in getting in. And the Edgars of the world would have a home. Food for thought.

  148. I agree that Edgar doesn't need extra credit to be HOF-worthy from a hitting perspective.

    I'm just trying to separate two issues here--1) determining what, if any, penalty he deserves based on having been a DH vs 2) why he was a DH. The WHY is not really relevant--even if it was because he was misused by his managers, or hurt himself saving 50 children from a burning building, or was whatever. He was what he was, and the point of the HOF is to determine who had the best careers. In other words, arguing that Edgar became a DH for a reason that was not related to his natural ability doesn't really mean that we shouldn't penalize him for being a DH. There may be other good arguments for why we shouldn't penalize him (or penalize him any further than he has been already) but the reason for him being a DH isn't one of them.

  149. It seems to me that Edgar spending a quarter of his career as an average defender at a challenging position and three-quarters at DH is not a world worse than a player spending 100% of his career at 1B (or more accurately, the typical full-career "first baseman" nowadays is probably more like 80% of the time at 1B and 20% at DH).

  150. Andy (#144) and Matt Y (#145),

    I'm not trying to get Gar "extra credit" for why he became a DH.

    Rather I feel the need to make it understood that he didn't spend his entire productive career there, and wasn't moved there because he was a terrible fielder.

    These are very real concerns that affect how he is perceived, here and among the actual Hall electorate.

    There seems to be almost a wall of prejudicial feelings among nay-sayers. Either he was a DH period. Or, he must have been a zero-sum (or worse) defensive player. Or, DH is easy because a player doesn't have to expend energy on defense.

    Others who had a rough time adjusting to the role are "explained away" for any number of reasons.

    You talk of the sum of his numbers, period. I advocate just that. He did what he did. He did it better than anyone else who ever played that role.

    His numbers are what they are. Judge them as such. He earned every one of them.

    Closers get into the Hall pitching just one inning in a game. It can be argued that they are not out there trying to win the game, so much as trying to make sure they don't blow it. Success through simply not falling flat on your face?

    Larry R, a "DH wing?" Next to the "Closer Wing?" Oh, right...there is no separate "Closer Wing." They get full enshrinement privileges with the rest of the nine-inning players.

    An everyday DH -- particularly one of Edgar's caliber -- can leave a much greater footprint on a season than a closer.

    Josh (#149) has it about right. The M's also did occasionally use Gar at first base in Interleague road games. He did not embarrass himself.

    I feel they simply viewed it as having one more regular position (DH) settled, at an All-Star level, no less. As that they also had Tino Martinez, Paul Sorrento, David Segui and John Olerud at first base over the course of Edgar's DH'ing seasons, they were perfectly happy with that.

    If anything, the resting a player, or having a player DH while working through minor injuries use of the position flies in the face of the potential of having a full-time, well-adjusted player who can flat-out hit in the role. It's not the Designated Rest Home. It's there to create more offense. The Mariners used it to their advantage.

    There was simply no reason to force the issue of Martinez playing in the field.

    I think that's (finally) all I have to say on the issue.

  151. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The WHY [he was a DH] is not really relevant--even if it was because he was misused by his managers

    I'll slightly disagree. If there were a player who had the ability to play the field, and play it well, but because his team was so loaded he was forced into the DH role for most of his career, I don't see him as just a DH. From a value standpoint he only gets credited for the position he played (or didn't play). But when considering players for the HOF I also want to rate players based on their ability. This imaginary player had the ability to play the field, he just wasn't given the opportunity. There's more art than science in how I would give credit for such things, but on a borderline case it could make a difference.

    On the other hand Edgar Martinez probably couldn't have managed a productive career without the benefit of the DH, and that also makes a difference to me.

    That's just how I look at things and I can't say those who differ are wrong.

  152. Although I agree in principle, I don't think what you describe is all that realistic in practice. There have been cases of teams carrying two good 1B, for example. Invariably, one of them ends up getting traded. The theoretical hole that a guy is kept in most or all of his career doesn't really happen in practice, I don't think. Beyond that, your suggestion is no different from any "what if" scenario...what if a pitcher had been taught to throw a certain pitch...what if a guy had been moved to SS at a young age...what if...what if. There are so many "what if" scenarios that I just can't buy into them.

    Here's a good one for you...what if Mickey Mantle hadn't torn up his knee early in his career? He might have been the greatest player in history...you can make a pretty good hypothetical argument. But if I try to argue that he actually was the best based solely on the fact that his freak knee injury shouldn't be held against him, I'd get laughed off the blog.

  153. Michael Weddell did a very good write up on Edgar Martinez's HOF case at Baseball Analysts. Here is some of the info that paints a bit more complete picture if we look at his career with wOPS+ instead of simple OPS+.Tom Tango did the heavy lifting on this here http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/proof_of_the_modified_ops/ The gist of it is that the formula becomes 100 * (1.2 * OBP / lgOBP + 0.8 * SLG / lgSLG -1)

    Looking at players with 7500-9500 (based on numbers in December 2009), here is the list:


  154. Blockquote fail....

    Name Year wOPS+
    Edgar Martinez 1995 184
    Frank Thomas 1991 180
    David Ortiz 2007 169
    Edgar Martinez 1997 166
    Edgar Martinez 1996 166
    Travis Hafner 2005 164
    Milton Bradley 2008 163
    Frank Thomas 2000 160
    Edgar Martinez 2001 160
    Travis Hafner 2004 159
    Travis Hafner 2006 159
    Edgar Martinez 1998 157
    Manny Ramirez 2001 157
    David Ortiz 2006 157
    Edgar Martinez 2000 155
    Rafael Palmeiro 1999 154
    David Ortiz 2005 153
    Edgar Martinez 1999 153
    Hal McRae 1976 153
    Jim Thome 2006 152

  155. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Andy, you're right, a great fielder getting stuck at DH for a career wouldn't happen in practice. But I want to look at both the value (actual performance), and reasons why one's ability may have been somehow hindered (or helped) by the circumstances he was in.

    A real-life example: Elston Howard. Purely on his major league record, he probably doesn't deserve consideration for the HOF. Under 1500 hits, under 30 WAR, etc. But as a young man he was in Korea, then he was in the minors of an organization which was in no hurry to have any black players, then he finally joined the roster of an absolutely loaded team under a manager who loved to platoon and sub. All of this contributes to his never playing 100 games until age 28, never getting 450 PA until age 30. Once he finally did have the chance to play more or less full-time, he was a great player, winning an MVP. I don't think it's hard to imagine Howard having a much more impressive career under different circumstances that were outside his control.

    So his value/stats were impressive, but less than HOF-quality. But I think his ability/talent probably were HOF-quality. And I am not saying that I would vote for him, but I would definitely put a lot of thought into it. It is a "what-if" game, but I think one based on reality and probability, not wild conjecture.

    I'll also note that the HOF voting guidelines state that one should consider both a player's "record" and "playing ability." Often there is no real difference between the two -- a player is what he is -- but sometimes there is, and those cases interest me.

    And as I already mentioned on Edgar Martinez, if I could be convinced he was worthy of being a major league starter when still in the minors, I would give him some credit for that too.

  156. Great example JT --Elston Howard had HoF talent, but his numbers just don't cut it as you discuss, which was partly not his fault. I think his case would fall under the "Negro league and marine service " clauses --he should get more credit b/c he was held back for various reasons waaay outside of his control. Gar is a bit different of the case, and I agree he is what he is largely. With that said, being the best career DH is enough for me under current Hall guidelines.

  157. There are many good points above. To me it comes down to: even with the harshest positional adjustment you can plausibly apply, where we dock him as much as the worst defender around at a less valuable position-& it seems he would have been at least mediocre-his WAR, orf other measures of value added, are enough to get him into the HOF. I really would stress though that peak value should be as valuable-is that not what greatness is? Looking at this, anyone who thinks him borderline in total contribution (the lowest that is believable): the peak value makes it clear he belongs.

    Now we already dinged him for not fielding, & it is clear that it IS tough to DH, by acclamation & records, not just due to injury. Can there be any legitimate reason to deny the HOF to the clearly the best DH ever? AND he played 1/4 of his games with decent defense at a fairly challenging position.

    Allen had a shorter career, still has enough WAR total, & when you consider his peak value it is a no brainer. He is significantly better than Belle, whose #s were much inflated by context, the exact opposite of Allen. There is also evidence that many, including managers, who worked with Allen did not find him a detriment to his team. Bill James changed his opinion on him? Good, he did the most to dny Allen fair consideration.

    Lastly, the value of a good hitter just happens to be so high that a Martinez can warrant admission absent playing defense for 3/4 of his career. Can we REALLY say that no DH who does not hit as well as a top 20 hitter of all time warrants induction?

  158. 1990-2004, Games with 3 or more Times on Base:

    1. Bonds, 754
    2. Bagwell, 589
    3. Thomas, 579
    4. Biggio, 564
    5. EDGAR, 529

    1995-2001, Games with 3 or more Times on Base:

    1. Bonds, 336
    2. Bagwell, 331
    3. EDGAR, 318

    1990-2004, WAR:
    1. Bonds, 141.3
    2. Bagwell, 79.4
    3. Griffey, 75.5
    4. Thomas, 70.1
    5. A-Rod, 67.2
    6. EDGAR, 66.7

    Most Seasons with an OBP over .400:

    Cobb, 18
    Ruth, 16
    Speaker, 16
    Collins, 16
    Musial, 14
    Bonds, 14
    Ott, 14
    Rickey, 13
    Williams, 13
    Gehrig, 13
    Foxx, 12
    EDGAR, 10
    Boggs, 10
    Hornsby, 10

    Most seasons with a .300+ AVG, .400+ OBP and .500+ SLG:

    Ruth, 15
    Musial, 14
    Williams, 13
    Cobb, 12
    Gehrig, 12
    Foxx, 11
    Speaker, 11
    Bonds, 11
    Hornsby, 10
    Heilmann, 9
    Pujols, 9
    Manny, 9
    EDGAR, 8
    Thomas, 8
    Mantle, 8
    Chipper, 8
    Ott, 8

    Most Seasons of OPS+ of 150 or more:

    Ruth, 16
    Cobb, 16
    Aaron, 14
    Bonds, 14
    Williams, 13
    Musial, 13
    Mays, 13
    F. Robinson, 13
    Speaker, 13
    Hornsby, 13
    Gehrig, 12
    Ott, 12
    Mantle, 11
    Schmidt, 10
    Foxx, 10
    Wagner, 10
    Pujols, 10

    Mize, 9
    Sam Crawford, 9
    Manny, 9
    EDGAR, 8
    Thomas, 8
    Thome, 8
    Allen, 8
    DiMaggio, 7
    McCovey, 7
    Mathews, 7
    Greenberg, 7
    Shoeless Joe, 7
    Collins, 7
    Lajoie, 7

    1995-2001, Most BB:
    Bonds, 913
    Bagwell, 812
    Thome, 785
    EDGAR, 750
    McGwire, 732

    1995-2001, Most 2B:
    EDGAR, 291
    Grace, 277
    Bagwell, 265

    1995-2001, Highest OBP:
    Bonds, .449
    EDGAR, .446
    Sheffield, .433
    McGwire, .430
    Thomas, .430

    1995-2001, Highest OPS+:
    Bonds, 188
    McGwire, 183
    EDGAR, 163
    Sheffield, 161
    Piazza, 158

    1995-2001, Most Times on Base:
    Bagwell, 2045
    EDGAR, 1996
    Bonds, 1976
    Chipper, 1896
    Biggio, 1890

    Just for fun:

    June 24, 1995 through June 21, 1996: 162 G, 141 R, 207 H, 34 HR, 132 RBI, 132 BB, 96 SO, .355/.477/.662, and... *73* doubles.

    He finished in the top 10 in the AL in WPA eight times and led the league in back-to-back seasons.

    From 1995-1999 he posted an OBP over .400 in 26 of 30 months. The four months where it dipped beneath .400? .393, .387, .380, .365. Number of those 30 months in which his OBP was above .450: 17

    In the great 1995 season when the Mariners saved baseball in Seattle, from May 29, through the end of the Yankees series: 121 G, 548 PA, 428 AB, 159 H, 105 R, 43 2B, 27 HR, 107 RBI, 108 BB, 68 SO, .371/.502/.661

    In 1995, Seattle beat out the Angels. Edgar against the Angels that year: 13 G, 56 PA, 47 AB, 14 R, 23 H, 7 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 3 SO, .489/.571/.894, 1.465 OPS

    In 1996, Texas beat Seattle by 4 and a half games. Wasn't Edgar's fault. Against the '96 Rangers: 13 G, 63 PA, 47 AB, 17 R, 24 H, 6 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 4 SO, .511/.635/1.021, 1.656 OPS

    In 2000 and 2001, Oakland was their main divisional competition. In those two years combined, against the great Hudson/Zito/Mulder Oakland teams: 31 G, 138 PA, 107 AB, 22 R, 35 H, 9 2B, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 28 BB, 18 SO, .327/.478/.636, 1.114 OPS

    Yankee fans and Yankee haters alike should remember that he was a notorious Yankee killer. In the mid-90s he terrorized Yankee fans with this 37-game stretch against the pinstripes: 37 G, 174 PA, 140 AB, 37 R, 58 H, 20 2B, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 32 BB, 16 SO, .414/.523/.771, 1.294 OPS. Yes, that's 30 XBH in 37 games.

    Lifetime numbers off Mariano Rivera: 20 PA, 16 AB, 10 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO, .625/.700/1.188, 1.888 OPS

    His numbers in extra innings from 1989-2003, the bulk of his career: 118 PA, 87 AB, 18 R, 31 H, 7 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 23 BB, 15 SO, .356/.492/.575, 1.067 OPS

  159. Gordon Gross Says:

    Edgar was also right-handed.

    Number of RH batters with a higher career OBP: 4.

    Hornsby, Foxx, Pujols, Frank Thomas (barely). That's it. Maybe I'm confused, but if you're top-5 in a major rate stat for every RH hitter that has EVER played the game, shouldn't that qualify you for canonization?

    Edgar was a top-3 right-handed hitter for his era. McGwire has managed to disqualify himself from the conversation, and Manny came in later (while also doing what he can to disqualify himself in the minds of voters).

    In Edgar's peak years, the top three RH guys at the plate IMO were Frank Thomas, Gar and Jeff Bagwell. I'm open to other interpretations, but for me, those are the guys. And they should all get into the Hall of Fame.

    ~G