I don’t disagree with Geoff Baker very often, and in fact I think we’re lucky to have him around the Mariners day-in and day-out, but I can’t go along with his argument on Edgar Martinez, at least when it comes to his Hall of Fame worthiness.
I’m REALLY torn on this argument, because I know for certain the main reason why I disagree with Geoff Baker is due to the fact that I’m a fan of the Mariners and specifically of Mr. Martinez. All of Geoff’s argument’s make sense. All of his numbers don’t lie. And I don’t care, because I’m looking through Mariners-colored glasses and I WANT Edgar to be a Hall of Famer more than I actually believe he deserves to be in there.
There are usually two avenues to get into the Hall of Fame. You either pass the Numbers Test or the Eyeball Test. Many would say Edgar fails (or falls short) in both. In the Numbers Test, you need 3,000 hits and/or 500 home runs. That’s pretty baseline. Get either one of those and you should be a shoo-in to make it. Get BOTH and you’re in there on the First Ballot.
The Eyeball Test is a lot more subjective. Basically, you look at the guy, you look at his entire body of work, and you think, “Do I see this guy in the Hall of Fame?” When you’re short in the Numbers Test, you can usually still talk a finge guy into the Hall of Fame based on this credential alone. Unfortunately for guys like Edgar, some voters take the Eyeball Test too seriously (the rationale being: if you don’t crack that 75% threshold in the first few tries, then odds are you don’t belong).
Edgar passes my Numbers Test, though, and I’ll tell you why. He wasn’t a home run hitter. Let’s just put that out there. Too many people are looking at the fact that he was a career Designated Hitter (already a shot against him, since he practically never played in the field) and basing that on the DH’s we see today. The super bigtime mashers who crush 40+ homers and bring little else to the table. For Edgar, there was an art to being a DH. He wasn’t the kind of guy who’s trying to jack a ball down the left field line every time. Edgar would hit you to any part of the field at any time!
Edgar was a doubles man, and I don’t think he gets enough credit for that. Why isn’t 514 doubles as impressive as 500 home runs? I’d argue, the way he was hitting doubles – to left, center, and right in what I would bet were pretty equal occasions – he was to the 2-bagger what Babe Ruth was to the homer. And it’s not like any of those 514 doubles were cheapies; he certainly didn’t have the speed to stretch out singles! In fact, being a doubles man, I find it impressive that he hit over 300 home runs. Considering he didn’t get regular playing time until 1990, my man Edgar was on quite a tear for the bulk of his Major League career.
And, as far as the Eyeball Test is concerned, he’s it for me. You’re letting me field an All-Time All-Star baseball team, I’m picking Edgar as my DH. Because that’s who I think of. Looking back at most of the major hits in Mariners history, it wasn’t Griffey or Buhner or Ichiro so much as it was Edgar getting those hits. You’re not striking Edgar out in a major at-bat. In all likelihood, he’s going to get on base some way, some how. He’s going to take whatever strategy you pose and mash that ball where you don’t want it. Bust him in? He’ll pull it down the line. Burn him on the outside corner, he’ll take you the other way. He’s going to wait for his pitch and when he sees it, it’s gone.
I have no illusions about Edgar making the requisite 75% of votes this year or in any year in the next decade. He might not get voted in at all by the Baseball Writers and instead be considered by the Veterans Committee. I just think it would be a shame if the best pure hitter of my generation didn’t get the proper recognition he deserves.