Can the Mariners make it three straight years with a franchise icon entering the Hall of Fame?
Designated hitter Edgar Martinez, the club’s current hitting coach, is one of 34 players on the 2017 ballot, which was announced Monday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Ballots are being mailed this week to more than 400 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who, among other qualification, must be an active member of the association for at least 10 years.
Martinez, 53, is looking to join long-time Mariners teammates Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson in the Hall of Fame.
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Griffey was elected last year, in his first year of eligibility, when named on a record 99.3 percent of the ballots. He was the first player to enter the Hall primarily because of his accomplishments while playing for the Mariners.
Johnson was a 2015 inductee but chose to enter the Hall representing the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Griffey and Johnson each used their own status in the past to endorse Martinez.
"Hands down," Johnson said, "he is the best pure hitter that I ever got to see. I hope that his time comes soon, that he gets a phone call stating that he’s a Hall of Fame player. Because he is."
Griffey added: "Edgar deserves to be in…I know what he’s done."
Even so, Martinez faces long odds to make it three in a row. He was cited on only 43.4 percent of returned ballots a year ago and has just three remaining years of ballot eligibility to reach the 75-percent threshold required for induction.
Players remain on the ballot for a maximum of 10 years if cited on 5 percent of returned ballots. Voters can select up to 10 players on their ballot, which returned by Dec. 31. Results will be announced Jan. 18 on MLB Network.
Martinez is one of 15 returning candidates.
Others include Jeff Bagwell (named last year on 71.6 percent of returned ballots), Tim Raines (69.8), Trevor Hoffman (67.3), Curt Schilling (52.3), Roger Clemens (45.2) and Barry Bonds (44.3).
This is Raines’ final year of eligibility.
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez and outfielders Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero head the class of 19 newcomers. Three former Mariners are also new to the ballot: outfielder Mike Cameron, infielder Carlos Guillen and reliever Arthur Rhodes.
Other first-time candidates: Casey Blake, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, J.D. Drew, Derrek Lee, Melvin Mora, Magglio Ordonez, Jorge Posada, Edgar Renteria, Freddy Sanchez, Matt Stairs, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.
The other returning candidates with their 2016 vote percentages: Mike Mussina (43.0), Lee Smith (34.1), Fred McGriff (20.9), Jeff Kent (16.6), Larry Walker (15.5), Gary Sheffield (11.6), Billy Wagner (10.5) and Sammy Sosa (7.0).
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners