SEATTLE -- Now he waits.Edgar Martinez has proven to be very good at that over the years. He was one of the most patient hitters in baseball for nearly two decades, his calm demeanor at the plate driving pitchers batty and his batting average and slugging percentage to impressive heights.Now
SEATTLE -- Now he waits.
Edgar Martinez has proven to be very good at that over the years. He was one of the most patient hitters in baseball for nearly two decades, his calm demeanor at the plate driving pitchers batty and his batting average and slugging percentage to impressive heights.
Now 55 and employed as the hitting coach of the same Mariners team he graced for 18 years as a player, Martinez is waiting to see if the call to Cooperstown comes on Wednesday. The ballots from some 425 eligible Baseball Writers' Association of America voters have all been cast since the Dec. 31 deadline, and live coverage of the 2018 Hall of Fame announcement begins Wednesday at noon PT on MLB Network, simulcast live on MLB.com, with the electees named at 3 p.m.
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And, yes, it's expected to be nail-bitingly close. Martinez had been named on 77.1 percent of the ballots made public as of Tuesday afternoon by Ryan Thibodaux's HOF Tracker, just above the needed 75 percent threshold to be elected. But over the last several years, Martinez has received less support from voters who don't make their ballots public in advance.
A year ago, Martinez was at 65.9 percent in the last public tally, but wound up dropping to 58.6 percent in the final results. A similar plunge this year would leave him short again, but all his numbers have been running consistently higher, and it's impossible to know how much that momentum might carry with the non-public vote.
And so he goes about his normal business. Meetings with other Mariners coaches. Family time with his wife, Holli, and their two teenage girls still living at home. Working out to stay healthy. Preparation for Spring Training, which looms just three weeks away.
And, yeah, occasionally allowing himself to ponder the chances of joining former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. as the second Mariners player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. But there are no nerves, he insists. Not yet, anyway.
"I think, over the years, I kind of got used to the idea that I don't have any control," Martinez said this week from his home in Bellevue, Wash. "I tried not to change anything and tried just to not worry too much, because at the end, there's nothing I can do. You get used to it after so many years going through it.
"It does look like this year there's a real chance, and that's exciting. At least it looks like even if it doesn't happen this year, there's still a good chance."
Indeed, should Martinez fall just short, the odds are good that he'd then be voted in next year in his 10th and final time on the ballot. Over the last 20 years, all 11 players who received at least 68.3 percent of the vote but came up shy wound up being elected the following year. Since Hall of Fame voting began in 1936, every player who received 70 percent or more votes eventually wound up being inducted.
Despite his imposing .312/.418/.515 career line and a 147 OPS+, it hasn't always looked this promising. After being named on 36.2 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2010, those numbers hovered at 32.9, 36.5, 35.9, 25.2 and 27.0 until trending upward at 43.4 in 2016 and 58.6 last year.
Now he's taking another significant jump, as it appears writers are both more open to designated hitters being worthy of induction as well as the importance of his incredible on-base percentage and better advanced metrics in comparison to other baseball greats.
"The last two years have been amazing," Martinez said. "That year I went down to 28 or something, I thought, 'OK, this is not going to happen.' But it's amazing it's gone up so far. I think the work the Mariners are doing promoting and sharing a lot of information about my career helped a lot. And there are some writers who put out stories that have really helped."
Martinez said he has an event to attend on Wednesday morning, but will be home in time to flip the TV on and watch. He admits he's paid closer attention the past two years.
And after all the waiting, even he doesn't know how it would feel if the call comes.
"I don't know how to take it," he said. "I'm honored that people are even considering me just to be in the Hall of Fame. That's a great honor. I don't know how I'll feel if it happens. I really don't know. I've been trying to keep it down for so long, I don't know what will happen. It's a great honor and we'll see if it happens."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.