Seattle Mariners fans will find out Wednesday if Edgar Martinez finally gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Just like last year, Edgar is one of the most hotly debated candidates of them all. He has the requisite, signature postseason moment -- his game-winning hit in the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees in the year the wild card was introduced.
He was named MLB’s top designated hitter five times, and the award is now named after him.
He ranks 21st all-time in on-base percentage (.418), and clubbed 309 home runs despite playing in the Kingdome and Safeco Field -- two homer-resistant parks -- and not becoming a regular until he was 27.
Most impressive of all, he’s one of just 18 players with a career batting average of .300, an on-base percentage of .400 and a slugging percentage of .500. According to CBS Sports, the others are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Hank Greenberg, Tris Speaker, Frank Thomas, Mel Ott, Manny Ramirez, Harry Heilmann, Chipper Jones, Larry Walker and Todd Helton.
To detractors who dismiss him because he was primarily a designated hitter, consider this: 72 percent of his plate appearances came as a DH, far less than David Ortiz (88 percent), who is considered a first-ballot lock when he comes eligible in 2022.
Longtime ESPN MLB writer Jayson Stark has voted for Edgar for many years and says the argument that Edgar was “just a DH” is slowly whittling away.
“I think Edgar is going to get in,” Stark said. “I just don’t know about this year. To me, Edgar is one of the greats hitters of his generation and obviously if not the greatest DH of all time, he’d be on Mount Rushmore, right?”
For two straight years, Edgar has seen a 16 percent bump in his voting totals, from 27 percent in 2015 to 43 percent in 2016 to 59 percent last year. And another 16 percent bump is exactly what he needs to meet the 75 percent threshold for induction.
Early tracking shows Edgar getting 81 percent of the vote in 2018, more than enough for induction. But that number is slowly trickling down because voters who turn in their ballots early are much bigger Edgar supporters than voters who turn ballots in late. And because of that, a statistician who has crunched the numbers predicts that Edgar may ultimately make or miss induction by literally one vote.
“He’s the greatest DH of all time,” said Dave “Softy” Mahler of SportsRadio KJR. “He’s got an award named after him for God sakes. There’s just so much more of a buzz around Edgar. I find it hard to believe he won’t get in this year, and if not this year, then for sure next year.”
And it’s not just journalists and Seattlites. Pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera each told The Seattle Times that Edgar was the best hitter they ever faced, and there are numerous statistics that justify his place in Cooperstown.
If he falls short, he is down to his last at-bat. 2019 will be Edgar’s 10th and final year of eligibility.