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Edgar patiently awaiting final push for HOF

Former Mariners DH was named on 70.4 percent of the ballots last year
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- For one last time, Edgar Martinez's name was on the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot sent out to Baseball Writers' Association of America voters on Monday. This will be Martinez's 10th and final opportunity to earn baseball's most coveted honor.

His reaction? For Martinez, patience paid off in the late stages of his Major League career. He's not about to change now, at age 55. And so Martinez will quietly wait and see how things play out when the voting is announced on Jan. 20 on MLB Network.

SEATTLE -- For one last time, Edgar Martinez's name was on the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot sent out to Baseball Writers' Association of America voters on Monday. This will be Martinez's 10th and final opportunity to earn baseball's most coveted honor.

His reaction? For Martinez, patience paid off in the late stages of his Major League career. He's not about to change now, at age 55. And so Martinez will quietly wait and see how things play out when the voting is announced on Jan. 20 on MLB Network.

Hall of Fame coverage

Martinez's chances rose considerably -- along with his vote total -- when he was named on 70.4 percent of the ballots last year, just shy of the required 75 percent for induction. But he's taking nothing for granted.

"At this point, I'm not thinking too much about it," Martinez said. "I have no control of it. There's not much I can do but wait, and hopefully it goes in the right direction. But I'm realistic and know there is a chance it never happens.

"For the last few years, I've been of that mind and so far, I'm still thinking the same way. There's a chance it can happen, but if not, there's not much I can do about it. So we just have to wait and see."

Momentum clearly is on Martinez's side. 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, 58.6 and 70.4 in the previous three voting years.

History also appears to be in Martinez's favor. 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.

Video: A look at Edgar Martinez's first and last home runs

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, 24 were elected the next year, including Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero in 2018.

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 they 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 '67, 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 he 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 now that the BBWAA has elected a record 16 players over the past five years.

Video: SEA@MIN: Martinez slugs his 300th career home run

Among this year's newcomers to the ballot, Mariano Rivera figures as a strong first-ballot inductee, while Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte, and the late Roy Halladay, all should draw considerable support. But Martinez now has elevated to the top returner and is riding considerable momentum.

Rivera, widely regarded as the greatest closer in MLB history, certainly won't argue if he's elected alongside Martinez. The longtime Mariners designated hitter went 11-for-19 with three walks, three doubles and two home runs in 23 plate appearances against Rivera during his career.

"The only guy that I didn't want to face, in a tough situation, was Edgar Martínez," Rivera said after his retirement from the Yankees in 2013. "It didn't matter how I threw the ball. I couldn't get him out. He had more than my number. He had my breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Martinez spent his entire 18-year playing career with the Mariners, and he served as their hitting coach the past 3 1/2 seasons before announcing last month that he was stepping down from that post to serve as an organizational hitting advisor in 2019.

Other players with Mariners ties on the 2019 ballot are pitchers Freddy Garcia and Derek Lowe, shortstop Omar Vizquel and outfielder Jason Bay. Vizquel was named on 37 percent of the ballots last year in his first year of eligibility, while the others are on the ballot for the first time.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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