Seattle Mariners

Edgar Martinez got my vote for the Hall, but is it enough? And the nine others I voted for, and why

Seattle Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez applauds in the dugout before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez applauds in the dugout before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Edgar Martinez has had his Mariners jersey retired, and a Seattle street, a cantina and the American League’s top designated hitter award named for him.

Martinez could receive the ultimate honor of being elected to the Hall of Fame when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America releases its balloting for the 2019 class on Jan. 22.

In his 10th and final year on the ballot, Martinez appears on his way to getting the necessary 75 percent of votes cast to earn induction. According to the Hall of Fame tracker @NotMrTibbs, Martinez has been named on 158 of the 175 ballots made public as of Monday afternoon. That’s a 90.3 percent rate with 57.3 percent of the votes left to be counted.

Martinez has gained 17 votes from writers who did not choose him in 2018. He’ll need a total of 309 of the projected 412 ballots issued to get in. Many think he’ll get there but it could be close.

Count me as one who voted for Martinez.

This is my third year voting for the Hall of Fame. It’s a duty I take seriously, and I spend a good chunk of time researching each of the players on the ballot, and reading why my fellow Hall of Fame voters chose the players they did.

Martinez’s candidacy has gained momentum over the years largely because many, at least initially, did not consider a DH worthy. It’s an argument that baffles me; for 46 years the AL has allowed a DH, which means its place in the batting order is just as legitimate as the center fielder’s or shortstop’s.

As for playing defense, that’s not what a DH is asked to do. It would be like penalizing pitchers for not being good baserunners or hitters.

Martinez is a deserving player, and it appears the thinking about specialization is changing. This is apparent when you consider first-year candidate Mariano Rivera.

The former New York Yankees pitcher was the ultimate specialist, a closer. Granted, he was the best in baseball history in performing that job: All-time record 652 saves, 2.21 career ERA and an impressive postseason resume (all-time high of 42 saves with an ERA of 0.70).

He started only 10 games and averaged just over an inning per appearance over his career. No matter; so far, Rivera has been named on all 175 ballots.

Like Martinez, Rivera deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Here’s to seeing them both on stage in Cooperstown come July.

Here are the other players I voted for this year:

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay

Both Rivera and Halladay are on the ballot for the first time and I voted for them both.

With Rivera, it seems like a sure thing he’ll get in. About the only question is if he’ll be the first to receive 100 percent of the vote. I’m guessing there’s a fuddy duddy out there somewhere who will leave him off the ballot.

Halladay is one of only six pitchers to win at least 200 games and post a winning percentage of .650 or better. Two Cy Youngs, eight All-Star Games, three 20-win seasons…. Yes, Halladay deserves to get in on the first ballot.

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez

I’m lumping them all together, because I feel like you can’t vote for one without voting for the other two.

I know, the steroids issue. And the rules outlined by the Hall of Fame to potential voters, which says, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

So I get why people would refuse to vote for Clemens, Bonds and Ramirez. I’m just not one of them.

It’s impossible to ignore the steroid era. It’s also impossible to determine just exactly how much impact steroids had on any one player’s performance. And, if the prevalence of usage is as high as some speculate, a lot of juiced hitters were facing pitchers who were using the same substances.

But do they belong in the Hall? Based on their statistics, these were three of the greatest players of their generation, and of all-time. The stigma that is already attached to their names will live on, even if they’re in the Hall of Fame.

No, I wouldn’t want to have a beer with them. But I wouldn’t have wanted to talk politics with Ty Cobb, either.

Fred McGriff

It’s his last year on the ballot, and it appears that he won’t make it. It’s a shame McGriff’s numbers get lost because offensive numbers went through the roof just after he retired.

But his numbers are good: 10 years of hitting at least 30 homers, including seven consecutive seasons eclipsing that mark, and eight times with 100 or more RBI. He ranks in the Top 50 in homers (493, 28th) and RBI (1,550, 47th) while posting a triple-slash of .284/.377/.509.

Hopefully, McGriff’s contributions will be viewed more favorably in the future.

Jeff Kent, Larry Walker, Curt Schilling

I voted for these three last year and did so again.

I don’t understand the lack of support for Kent’s candidacy. He was one of the top hitters of his era and hit more home runs (377) than any second baseman in history. The .290/.356/.500 line is impressive for a middle infielder, and he won the MVP in 2000.

Defensively, he wasn’t the best. Four times he led the league in errors at second base, but know this: Managers were comfortable enough to run him out there for the better part of 17 years.

Larry Walker’s chances have improved this year. In the 175 ballots revealed through Monday, he had gained 37 votes and was pushing 70 percent.

I’ve been on him for three years now. Fantastic fielder with a plus arm (seven Gold Gloves) and an amazing hitter (three batting titles, lifetime .313/.400/.566).

Forget the Coors Field factor; didn’t Fenway help Carl Yastrzemski?

Bloody sock or not, Curt Schilling is kind of a heel. I think he would be in the Hall already if not for his idiotic public comments about journalists and the things he posted and said that eventually led him to being fired from ESPN.

I’m not voting for the mouth but the arm that racked up 3,116 strikeouts, 216 wins and a career WHIP of 1.137.

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