Denied Hall: Martinez misses in first shot
Ex-Mariners star bidding to become initial DH enshrined
Edgar Martinez averaged nearly one hit every three at-bats during an illustrious 18-year career with the Mariners, making him one of the best hitters in the Major Leagues -- but not a Hall of Famer.
The former Mariners star -- bidding to become the first player to enter the Hall primarily as a designated hitter -- finished seventh among the 26 candidates on the ballot with 36.2 percent of the votes, according to results announced on Wednesday by National Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson.
Martinez learned of the outcome shortly before noon PT at his Seattle-area home.
"I was hoping to get more votes, but I'm not really disappointed," he said. "I was open-minded about it and had no idea where I would be. But deep inside I had a feeling I wasn't going to go in. I was kind of prepared either way."
The percentage of votes Martinez received was a tad higher than his .312 career average, but Martinez needed much more support to be elected to baseball's shrine on his first year of eligibility.
Martinez was named on 195 of the 539 ballots returned by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America with 10 or more consecutive years' service.
It took 405 votes to reach the necessary 75 percent and Andre Dawson was the only one to make the grade, getting support from 77.9 percent of the voters.
As a result, the Hall of Fame remains off-limits to designated hitters.
Most of Martinez's career was spent as the DH, which has been used in the American League since 1974, but never adopted in the National League.
Martinez, who became a DH almost exclusively in 1995, finished his career with a .312 batting average, 309 home runs, 1,261 RBIs and 541 doubles. He was selected to seven All-Star teams, won five Silver Slugger Awards, two AL batting titles and retired in 2004 with the highest batting average (.315), most homers (243) and most RBIs (1,043) by a DH.
He is still regarded as the best DH in MLB history and since 2004 the top DH each season has received the Edgar Martinez Designated Hitter Award.
But the debate continues on whether a one-dimensional player filling the DH role is qualified to join the most elite players in the history of the game.
"I know it has been debated whether a DH is worthy," future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson said during a conference call on Tuesday announcing his retirement, "but during my time, I've never seen a better hitter, a better pure hitter, than Edgar.
"That's no disrespect to other teammates I've had or people I've played against, but anyone from that era who watched Edgar realizes what a good hitter he was. I'll be pulling for him because I know what he meant when I was on the mound."
Other factors that might have impacted the voting this year include the fact Martinez played his entire career in Seattle, a small-market team on the West Coast, and he never played in a World Series.
"I don't know what it does for my chances," Martinez said of receiving just 36.2 percent of the vote. "I hope that over time, people take a different look at the statistics, and not just whether you had 3,000 hits or hit 500 home runs."
At a time when statistics such as OPS and OBP are used almost as often as RBIs, BBs and K's, the deeper voters dig into Martinez's history, the more evidence of his value could emerge.
He walked more times than he struck out (1,283-1,202), with a .515 slugging percentage and .418 on-base percentage.
But the numbers weren't deemed good enough to get him elected on the first ballot. Even so, Martinez received enough votes to automatically be on the ballot next year. Players must receive at least 5 percent to stay eligible.
"We'll see what happens in the coming years," he said. "Hopefully there is still a chance down the road. The key is whether the needle is going to move higher in the next few years."
While it was strike one on Wednesday for Martinez, he was surprised that another first-ballot player, second baseman Roberto Alomar, was not selected.
"His credentials are first-ballot numbers," he said. "That really surprised me."
Martinez called Alomar "an impact player who could do it all. He was really, really good."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.