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
- 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?