Is this the year the Hall of Fame finally comes calling for a player who spent a substantial portion of his career with the Mariners?
Johnson, 51, looms as a shoo-in as a first-year candidate after after winning 303 games in a 22-year career that included 10 seasons with the Mariners from 1989-98.
While much of his success came elsewhere, Johnson spoke to the importance of his time in Seattle when inducted in 2012 into the club’s Hall of Fame.
“You, the fans,’ he told the crowd in an on-field ceremony at Safeco Field, “got to see the unpolished version and then, toward the middle of my career, the pitcher I could become.
“You were patient with me, I appreciate that. You were always supportive.”
Martinez, 52, is on the ballot for the sixth year and faces mounting odds to reach the required 75-percent threshold for election through balloting by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The ongoing debate regarding players linked to performance-enhancing drugs, such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, continues to create a packed ballot for the voters, who are limited to 10 selections.
That crunch struck hard last year for Martinez, who saw his percentage drop to 25.2 percent — down from a 2011 high of 36.5 percent.
“I’m not surprised that my percentage went down,” he said a year ago. “We just have to wait and see for the future.”
That future isn’t promising.
This year’s balloting included Johnson and other strong first-year candidates such as pitchers Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.
Martinez also faces competition from eight players who garnered greater support a year ago:
Craig Biggio (74.8 percent), Mike Piazza (62.2), Jeff Bagwell (54.3), Tim Raines (46.1), Clemens (35.4), Bonds (34.7), Lee Smith (29.9) and Curt Schilling (29.2).
The Hall of Fame contains three players who spent relatively short tours with the Mariners: reliever Goose Gossage (1984-87), outfielder Rickey Henderson (2000) and starting pitcher Gaylord Perry (1982-83).
Veterans Committees in recent years also elected manager Dick Williams (1986-88) and general manager Pat Gillick (1999-2003). Broadcaster Dave Niehaus was the 2008 recipient of the Ford Frick Award.
But no player who spent a significant portion of his career with the Mariners has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame. (Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. will be eligible next year for the first time.)
Martinez’s chances for election took a further blow last year when the Hall of Fame trimmed the maximum time a player can remain on the ballot from 15 years to 10 years.
Candidates who receive 5 percent of the vote will still be held over, but Martinez now faces a 2019 deadline (ballots cast after the 2018 season) for election.
Johnson was 130-74 with a 3.42 ERA in 274 games for the Mariners. He also was picked as an All-Star on five (of his 10 career) occasions and won the first of his five Cy Young Awards.
Martinez played his entire 18-year career with the Mariners from 1987-2004 and spent his final 10 seasons primarily as a designated hitter.
An All-Star on seven occasions, Martinez finished his 2,055-game career with a .312 average, a .418 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage.
Martinez won five Silver Slugger Awards for his offensive production, and Major League Baseball’s annual award for the game’s top designated hitter is named in his honor.
NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
***Results from the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America balloting will be announced at 11 a.m. Tuesday by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idleson in a live telecast on MLB Network. The announcement will also be streamed live online at www.baseballhall.org and www.mlb.com.
***Players must be retired for at least five years to be eligible for the ballot. This year’s list of 34 candidates included 17 players appearing on the ballot for the first time.
***Election requires that a candidate be cited on at least 75 percent of returned ballots. Those elected (if any) will be inducted July 26 in a ceremony near the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
***Players cited by at least 5 percent of returned ballots will appear on the following year’s ballot. Candidates can remain on the ballot for a maximum of 10 years before their eligibility shifts to consideration by the Hall’s Expansion Era Committee.
***Voters are 10-year active BBWAA members. Last year, 571 ballots were returned. Voters are permitted to select up to 10 candidates. Voting ended Dec. 27. Results were verified by Ernst and Young, a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London.
THIS YEAR'S BALLOT
(With year on ballot and, where applicable, 2014 balloting percentage)
Rich Aurillia (1), Jeff Bagwell (5, 54.3), Craig Biggio (3, 74.8), Barry Bonds (2, 34.7), Aaron Boone (1), Tony Clark (1), Roger Clemens (3, 35.4), Carlos Delgado (1), Jermaine Dye (1).
Darin Erstad (1), Cliff Floyd (1), Nomar Garciaparra (1), Brian Giles (1), Tom Gordon (1), Eddie Guardado (1), Randy Johnson (1), Jeff Kent (2, 15.2), Edgar Martinez (6, 11.7).
Pedro Martinez (1), Don Mattingly (15*, 8.2), Fred McGriff (9, 11.0), Mark McGwire (9, 11.0), Mike Mussina (2, 20.3), Troy Percival (1), Mike Piazza (3, 62.2), Tim Raines (8, 46.1), Curt Schilling (3, 29.2).
Jason Schmidt (1), Gary Sheffield (1), Lee Smith (13*, 29.9), John Smoltz (1), Sammy Sosa (3, 7.2), Alan Trammell (14*, 20.8) and Larry Walker (10.2).
* — are eligible for consideration for 15 years under grandfather clause adopted after last year’s decision by the Hall of Fame to decrease the eligibility timetable from 15 years to 10 years.