This piece originally appeared on Needle Ball during last year’s Hall of Fame deliberations. Although it is a brief plea, and nowhere near as extensive or compelling as Edgar deserves, the sentiment expressed remains true today. Dates have been changed to reflect the current voting process.
That’s right—I’m talking to you, Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
2012 marks the fourth year that Edgar Martinez will be on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. The criteria for reaching this achievement are as follows:
1. A player must have 10 or more major league seasons under his belt, and have been retired for 5 seasons.
2. Voters may only select 10 players on the ballot. A player must receive at least 75% of the vote from a committee of several hundred baseball writers.
3. A player can be nominated 15 times before he is ineligible for induction by the BBWAA.
That’s it. According to the official guidelines, voters are to keep in mind a player’s “record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions,” but no specific benchmarks are set. A player doesn’t need a perfect fielding percentage or a career average of .300. Perhaps he made his mark by becoming a leader on and off the field. Maybe he retired early, and now successfully manages another team.
In character, integrity, and sportsmanship, Edgar is recognized as a member of the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame and a recipient of the 2004 Roberto Clemente Award. He has founded multiple charities and events, from the golf classic that raises money for curing Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy to the Martinez Foundation, aimed at equipping teachers to provide higher quality education.
In records and team contributions, he holds a career line of .312/.418/.515, with 2,247 hits, 1,261 RBIs, and 514 doubles over 18 seasons. He topped off the 1995 ALDS with a .571 batting average and a two-run double that clinched the series, sending the Mariners to the ALCS and validating their presence in Seattle. Among his many accomplishments sit two AL batting titles, five Silver Slugger Awards, five Designated Hitter of the Year awards, and seven All-Star appearances.
Designated hitters like Edgar are not excluded from the Hall of Fame, but from what I could find, there has never been a Hall of Famer who was exclusively recognized for that position. In a Hall that honors umpires, managers, and executives, this is inexcusable.
Personally, I believe that the most relevant criterion is the size of the contribution a player makes to his team, whether that means reaching 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, or simply hitting an RBI double to win the Division Series. Part of the problem may be Edgar’s role as a designated hitter, since voters have nothing but his offensive contributions to consider. It’s worth noting that he played twelve years at third base and eight years at first, with respective fielding percentages of .987 and .946, and a total of 81 errors in 592 games. Still, I would challenge the baseball writers of America to ask themselves what statistics are most valuable in evaluating designated hitters. Runs batted in? Walk-off hits? Home runs?
It’s a question that deserves to be answered, because it’s not enough that Edgar is enshrined in the Mariners Hall of Fame. It’s not enough that his achievements will be immortalized in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame, the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame, and the Washington State Sports Hall of Fame. There’s only one Hall of Fame that really matters, and I have the feeling that Mariner fans won’t rest until he is rightfully commemorated in Cooperstown.
If you want to get involved with the Edgar for HOF campaign, head over to his Facebook page or use the hashtag #EdgarHOF to spread the word on Twitter.