Edgar encouraged by boost in HOF vote total
Longtime Mariners DH happy former teammate Johnson was inducted
SEATTLE -- He's thrilled for his longtime teammate, Randy Johnson. He's happy for the man who shares his last name, the great right-hander Pedro. He sends along kudos for the honored careers of John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.
But the names of the National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees for 2015 were revealed Tuesday by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and once again Edgar Martinez was not among them. In his sixth year of eligibility, Martinez finished 12th among the 34 players listed on this year's ballot, although he saw one positive in the fact that his voting percentage climbed slightly from 25.2 percent in 2014 to 27 percent (148 of 549 ballots).
"I'm a little encouraged that it went up a little bit, but I knew it was going to be very difficult," Martinez told MLB Network Radio on Sirius/XM. "To me, I think the Hall of Fame is the ultimate reward. It means a lot, and it's great to share it with family. It would be a great day if it happened."
Seventy-five percent is required for induction, and ballyhooed first-timers Johnson (97.3 percent), Pedro Martinez (91.1) and Smoltz (82.9) were welcomed into Cooperstown, along with 3,000-hit-club-member Biggio (82.7). Now Edgar must wait again, with only four years of eligibility remaining.
BBWAA voters can select up to 10 players on their ballots, and players who earn five percent or more are now eligible to remain on the ballot for 10 years, so Martinez will be back for his seventh shot in 2015.
Martinez, who turned 52 last week, was again an outsider in a crowded field, and things don't figure to get much easier next year, when Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman will appear on the ballot for the first time.
Of course, if it were up to his now-Hall-bound peers, Edgar would have already made it. In fact, Johnson and Pedro Martinez both heaped accolades upon him during their various media sessions in the wake of Tuesday's news.
Johnson called him "hands down the best hitter I've ever seen."
"I'm glad I didn't have to face him too much," Johnson added. "But I got to see him hit a lot against great pitchers. Hands down he is the best pure hitter I ever got to see on a nightly basis, and I hope his time comes soon, that he gets a phone call saying he is a Hall of Fame player, because he is."
Added Pedro Martinez, in an interview on MLB Network: "The toughest guy I faced, I think -- with all due respect to all the players in the league -- was Edgar Martinez. He had to make me throw at least 13 fastballs above 95 [mph each time we faced]. I was hard-breathing after that. Edgar was a guy that had the ability to foul off pitches, and it [ticked] me off because I couldn't get the guy out."
On Tuesday, Edgar said he was flattered by those comments and particularly happy for Johnson.
"Randy's one of the best I ever saw as well, and one of the best competitors I ever saw on the field," Edgar Martinez told MLB Network Radio. "It's a great honor coming from him."
Johnson said Edgar's sweet right-handed swing should land him in Cooperstown, and the numbers agree. While playing some third base and a lot more designated hitter, Martinez compiled a lifetime .312 batting average and a .418 on-base percentage, and he remains one of just 10 players in Major League history to have put up 300-plus home runs, 500-plus doubles, 1,000-plus walks and post a batting average over .300 and on-base percentage over .400. The others are Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams, recent retirees Manny Ramirez (eligible in 2017), Chipper Jones ('18) and Todd Helton ('19) and the still-active Albert Pujols.
But the Hall continues to elude him, and one concrete reason is the lingering argument over whether a player who mostly manned the DH spot should be considered worthy of enshrinement.
Martinez was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2010, then followed with 32.9 percent in '11, 36.5 in '12, 35.9 percent in '13 and 25.2 percent last year.
"It's still a big debate around the DH position and the fact that a lot of the writers that worked in the National League, they never saw me play, or very rarely," Edgar Martinez told MLB Network Radio on Tuesday.
"And I think that's a factor. I'm hoping that in the years to come, sabermetrics can help me out a little bit, but it's going to be a tough hill to climb."