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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 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?

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

  1. Josh Says:

    "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.

  2. Josh Says:

    "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.

  3. Josh Says:

    "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).

  4. Chris Says:

    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.

  5. BSK Says:



    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.)

  6. 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.

  7. dodgerdave Says:

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

  8. Josh Says:

    "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).

  9. BSK Says:


    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.

  10. largebill Says:

    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.

  11. 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...

  12. Josh Says:

    "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.

  13. WilsonC Says:

    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.

  14. 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.

  15. Izzy Says:

    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.

  16. MikeD Says:

    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!

  17. MikeD Says:

    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.

  18. JeffW Says:

    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!

  19. Craig Says:

    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.

  20. Matt Y Says:

    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.

  21. Matt Y Says:

    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.

  22. Andy Says:

    #121 Do you mean for 2010 numbers?

  23. Matt Y Says:

    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.

  24. Andy Says:

    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.

  25. Andy Says:

    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.

  26. Matt Y Says:

    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.

  27. John DiFool Says:

    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.

  28. John DiFool Says:

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. largebill Says:

    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.

  32. Andy Says:

    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.

  33. 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.

  34. MikeD Says:

    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.

  35. Josh Says:

    "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.

  36. JeffW Says:

    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.

  37. JeffW Says:

    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.

  38. BSK Says:


    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.

  39. 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.

  40. Josh Says:

    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).

  41. MikeD Says:

    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.

  42. MikeD Says:

    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.

  43. JeffW Says:

    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.

  44. Andy Says:

    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.

  45. Matt Y Says:


    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.

  46. Josh Says:

    "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.

  47. Larry R. Says:

    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.

  48. Andy Says:

    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.

  49. Josh Says:

    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).

  50. JeffW Says:

    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.

  51. 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.

  52. Andy Says:

    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 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.

  53. Tyler D Says:

    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 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:

  54. Tyler D Says:

    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

  55. 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.

  56. Matt Y Says:

    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.

  57. Mike Felber Says:

    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?

  58. Edgarmania Says:

    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

  59. 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.