SEATTLE -- Edgar Martinez fell just short of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, but if history holds true, the former Mariners standout now stands in strong position to earn the call to Cooperstown next January in his final year on the ballot.Martinez, who is about
SEATTLE -- Edgar Martinez fell just short of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, but if history holds true, the former Mariners standout now stands in strong position to earn the call to Cooperstown next January in his final year on the ballot.
Martinez, who is about to begin his third year as hitting coach for the only team he played for in his 18-year career, was named on 70.4 percent of the 422 ballots cast by Baseball Writers' Association of America voters, as announced Wednesday.
• Complete 2018 Hall of Fame election results
"Even though I didn't make it this year, getting 70 percent is a big improvement, and all I can think right now is it's looking good for next year," Martinez said. "It would have been great to get in, but it looks good for next year."
While four of his peers -- Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman -- garnered the necessary 75 percent for induction into baseball's most prestigious club, Martinez wound up just on the outside in his ninth year of eligibility.
But in the past 22 years, all 13 players who received 68.3 percent or more of the vote without being elected wound up being inducted the following year. Overall, since Hall of Fame voting began in 1936, there have been 29 players who fell between 70-74.9 percent, and all of them eventually wound up in Cooperstown.
Of that group of 29 in the 70-plus category, 24 were elected the next year, including Hoffman and Guerrero this year. Another, Jim Bunning, took two years to get in after first reaching 70 percent in 1987. Orlando Cepeda (1994) and Nellie Fox (1985) were in their final year of eligibility when they reached 70-plus percent, but wound up being added later by the Veterans Committee.
Red Ruffing twice hit the 70-plus percent mark, in 1964 and '67. But he took the unusual path of getting into the Hall via a "runoff election" in 1967, when a since-abandoned rule called for BBWAA voters to hold a second election between the top two finishers in any year when no one reached 75 percent.
Frank Chance also cracked the 70-percent mark in 1945, then dropped below it in his final year on the ballot in '46 before being added later by the Veterans Committee.
What it all adds up to is the fact that every player in Major League history who reached 70 percent voting at some point is in the Hall except for Martinez, and his path should be clearer next year now that the BBWAA has elected a record 16 players over the past five years.
Among next year's additions, Mariano Rivera figures as a strong first-ballot inductee, while Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte and the late Roy Halladay likely will draw considerable support. But Martinez now has elevated to the top returner and is riding considerable momentum.
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 to 43.4 in 2016, 58.6 last year and now 70.4.
"At that time [when I was in the mid-20 range], I thought I'd never get to this point," Martinez said. "It is encouraging to see 70 percent going into my final year. I just feel I still have a good chance. In 2014, I didn't think I'd be at this point right now."
Voters appear to have opened up more to the notion of electing players who performed primarily at designated hitter as well as how strongly his imposing .312/.418/.515 career line and 147 OPS+ stack up historically.
"There's more information out there now that writers can look at in terms of how all different stats can impact a team," he said. "I think it has improved my case a lot."
Martinez also has benefited from a strong push from the Mariners as well as some writers who've taken up his cause.
Now he's just looking for one final push over the top, and it will need to come in his final year on the ballot.
Former Mariners shortstop Omar Vizquel drew 37 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot, while venerable lefty Jamie Moyer earned 2.4 percent vote and won't appear on the ballot next year.
Martinez played with Vizquel from 1989-93 in Vizquel's first five seasons in the Majors and believes the defensive wizard deserves his own plaque in Cooperstown some day.
"He got 2,800 hits and 11 Gold Gloves," Martinez said. "To me, it doesn't get better than that. He was a great player that played the game for a long time. He belongs. He doesn't have the big numbers like a lot of home runs or RBIs, but defense is important, too, and he was consistent on both sides of the field."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.