Edgar Martinez’s Hall of Fame Breakthrough Is a Win for Modern Baseball


Edgar Martinez, who will probably be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, may actually hit the baseball. That is obvious from his numbers: a .312 batting common and a .418 on-base share in an 18-year profession that lasted till he was 41. His uncommon batting stance, together with his bat parallel to the bottom, struck concern into the hearts of pitchers.

But it was the remarks of his teammates and opponents through the years that confirmed how a lot his batting was revered.

“Edgar Martinez is, hands down, the best hitter that I’ve ever seen,” Randy Johnson instructed The Seattle Times.

“The toughest guy I faced, I think, with all due respect to all the players in the league, was Edgar Martinez,” the ace pitcher Pedro Martinez mentioned in a broadly quoted comment (despite the fact that Edgar Martinez was solely three for 25 towards him).

Martinez played 72 percent of his starts at D.H., a new Hall of Fame high. He is so identified with the position that the game’s top D.H. each year is presented with the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.

The aversion to the D.H. has carried over into voting for the Most Valuable Player Award — no designated hitter has won it. Martinez’s amazing 1995 season — .356 batting average, 52 doubles, 1.107 on-base plus slugging — was good for only third in the voting.

But as younger voters who grew up with the designated hitter take over in Hall of Fame voting — four years ago, the Hall began easing out some retired writers — the scorn for D.H.s seems to be fading. Martinez got 85 percent of the vote in January.

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CreditStephen Dunn/Getty Images

Another player who was primarily a D.H. is joining the Hall this year: Harold Baines. His election was more unexpected, as he had never received more than 6 percent of votes during his eligibility with the writers, and was elevated by a 16-member “Today’s Game” committee. Baines’s election was met with puzzlement at best and contempt at worst by many baseball writers, fans and statisticians.

While a fine player, Baines falls short of Martinez’s production. He had a long career and amassed an imposing hits total of 2,866. But aside from his longevity, he brings numbers — a .289 average and .820 OPS — more in line with humdrum Hall of Famers like Tony Perez and Billy Williams than legends like Stan Musial and Ty Cobb.

The selection of Baines, and especially Martinez, could bode well for David Ortiz, another D.H., who is scheduled to come up for possible induction in 2022.

Ortiz was even more of a full-time designated hitter than Martinez, making 89 percent of his starts in that role. With 541 home runs, a .380 on base average and a reputation as one of the game’s great clutch hitters, Ortiz is likely to find that the letters D.H. are no longer a mark of shame.



Source link Nytimes.com

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