Edgar Martinez has now been on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot for five years. His percentages have gone up and down as voters wrestle with how to measure his career because he served primarily as a designated hitter.
In 2014 Martinez received 144 votes, good for 25.2%. That number is down slightly from the 204 votes he received in 2013 (35.9%). For his part Martinez was not surprised at today’s results, as he told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times:
“Since the writers can only vote 10 players, and in this class you have so many great players, plus the other deserving players that were still waiting to get in, I thought it could be difficult for my chances…
“I knew I wasn’t going to get in…I’m not surprised that my percentage went down. We just have to wait and see for the future.”
A career .312/.418/.515 hitter, Martinez’s role as designated hitter limits the evaluation of his greatness to offense. With 2,247 hits and 309 home runs, he does not necessarily have one of those eye-popping stats to get your attention. Frank Thomas, who played primarily as a DH in his career, was elected on his first ballot on Wednesday because he did have those eye-popping numbers, something Martinez himself pointed out. For now Martinez’s lack of such will hold him out.
Perhaps as more time passes and the value of the DH becomes more accepted, writers will look more kindly on Martinez’s ridiculously consistent career and vote him in before his 15 years on the ballot are up.