Edgar's stellar offense powers case for HOF

January 9th, 2017

is in his eighth year of eligibility on the Hall of Fame ballot, so his window for election is getting narrower -- but his number of votes is steadily rising, and 2017 looks like it could be his best shot at Cooperstown yet.

After jumping to 43.4 percent of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote in 2016, the Mariners great is polling even higher this year, as ballots are initially made public by the writers.

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Martinez is squarely on the bubble, so MLB.com is examining his candidacy in advance of the official voting results being announced. The results of the 73rd BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be revealed Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. ET live on MLB Network, and simulcast live on MLB.com beginning at 5 p.m.

Players remain on the HOF ballot for 10 years after becoming eligible five years after retirement.

Edgar Martinez, DH/3B, 1987-2004

Career stats: .312/.418/.515, 2,247 H, 514 2B, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, 1,219 R, .933 OPS, 147 OPS+, 147 wRC+, 68.3 WAR (according to Baseball-Reference.com)

HOF case, traditional stats:

• Martinez, arguably the greatest designated hitter ever, did his job perfectly: He hit. Martinez's .933 OPS would rank 18th among Hall of Famers, and it's tied with Albert Belle for 31st all-time among players with at least 10 seasons in the Majors.

• Martinez was an on-base machine. His .418 on-base percentage ranks 19th all-time among Major Leaguers to play 10-plus seasons, and would rank 13th among Hall of Famers, between Frank Thomas and Stan Musial.

• Martinez's .312 career batting average is 10 points higher than the Hall of Fame average, and would tie him with Johnny Mize and four others for 54th among position players in Cooperstown. Only 44 other hitters in baseball's modern era have retired with a .300-plus average over as many plate appearances as Martinez's 8,674; 35 are in the Hall of Fame, five are on this year's ballot or will appear on future ballots (Derek Jeter, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez), and another is Pete Rose.

HOF case, advanced stats:

• Even though Martinez spent most of his career at DH, which negatively affects his WAR, he was good enough at the plate to put him well within Hall of Fame range. Martinez's 68.3 WAR ranks at just about Hall of Fame average (69), tying him with Eddie Murray and Carlton Fisk and placing him just in front of Ryne Sandberg and Ernie Banks.

• Martinez's 147 career wRC+ -- signifying offensive production 47 percent better than average -- is tied for 28th all-time among players with at least 5,000 plate appearances, the same wRC+ as Honus Wagner and Mike Schmidt.

• Martinez also has a 147 OPS+, which would tie him for 25th among Hall of Famers, and is tied for 39th all-time (minimum 10 seasons), alongside Schmidt, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell and Jim Thome.

Most similar player in the HOF: Mike Piazza. Piazza didn't have a stellar defensive reputation (although he might have deserved better); he's in the Hall of Fame because he was one of the most dominant offensive catchers ever. Martinez, also depending on his bat to get into Cooperstown, slightly outproduced Piazza at the plate. His 68.3 WAR edges Piazza's 59.4; his 147 wRC+ and 147 OPS+ beat Piazza's 140 and 142. Piazza had more power (427 homers to 309), but Martinez had more extra-base hits (838 to 779), and his 500-plus walk advantage gives him a better OPS (.933 to .922).

Most similar player not in the HOF: Will Clark. Clark was another offensive force whose career overlapped with Martinez's, although Clark went one-and-done in balloting, and this year was not elected by the Today's Game Era Committee. Martinez was the better player, reflected in his 68.3 to 56.2 advantage in WAR. Still, like Martinez, Clark was a .300 hitter in 8,000-plus plate appearances who drew his share of walks. He had a career .303/.384/.497 slash line, 2,176 hits, 284 homers and 1,205 RBIs -- all similar to, and a clear notch below, Martinez's numbers. So are his advanced stats: Clark had a 136 wRC+ and 137 OPS+ to Martinez's 147 mark in both categories.