Clock starts now on Edgar Martinez's Hall-of-Fame candidacy
Mariners are doing their best to make sure voters are informed.
Seattle Times baseball reporter
Five years after Edgar Martinez's last major-league at-bat — he grounded into a double play off Texas' Doug Brocail, which is like remembering Orson Welles for 1986's "Transformers: The Movie" — Martinez is stepping back into the batter's box.
On Wednesday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America mails out its Hall of Fame ballots to pick the Cooperstown Class of 2010. Edgar, having served his requisite five-year waiting period, will be one of the names on it.
For the first time (but certainly not the last), a player predominantly associated with the Mariners — exclusively, in his case — will be a serious Hall of Fame candidate. We're not talking an aging Gaylord Perry hooking on to get his 300th win, or Goose Gossage and Rickey Henderson making brief stops in Seattle long past their prime.
Edgar Martinez is a Mariner; some would say THE Mariner (with apologies to Ken Griffey Jr., but he did take a nine-year hiatus in Cincinnati; Edgar never left).
And now, as of Wednesday, he's on the clock. Not that Edgar himself has had much time to notice, between running his Kirkland-based business (Branded Solutions), keeping involved with the Martinez Foundation (to provide educational opportunities for students of color who want to become teachers in the state of Washington) and being a family man.
"Now I'll probably give it more attention," he said in a phone interview Tuesday. "In the day-to-day routine, I really don't think about it."
The time to ponder Martinez's Hall of Fame credentials is officially upon us. Voting members of the BBWAA (those with at least 10 years in the organization) have until Dec. 31 to postmark their ballot. On Jan. 6, Jack O'Connell, the BBWAA's secretary-treasurer, will make the most anticipated phone call of any player's life to each candidate receiving at least 75 percent of the vote.
Sorry to say, that won't be Edgar Martinez — not yet, not unless there's a miraculous confluence of forces that meld the mind of the certifiably stubborn and/or unconvinced and/or uniformed voters who seem destined to make Edgar's Cooperstown journey a long and bumpy one. If he gets there at all.
I am unabashedly in Martinez's camp, and I'd like to think it's not a homer call. I believe that an objective analysis of his career reveals a body of work that is Hall of Fame caliber; he has my vote.
And yet I fully recognize that Martinez falls into that borderline group, for which sound cases can be made, for and against. In fact, there are three other first-timers on this ballot that are in the same category. Martinez will probably be linked up with them for years to come — Fred McGriff, who finished his career with 493 homers, agonizingly close to that magic 500 number; Roberto Alomar, considered by many the pre-eminent second baseman of his era; and Barry Larkin, the great Reds shortstop.
In the most optimistic scenario for Martinez, he'll get between 40 and 50 percent in his first attempt, and rise from there. That's essentially how Jim Rice got into Cooperstown last year in his final try, and how Andre Dawson might make it this year. Dawson started at 45.3 percent in 2002 and slowly built to 65.9 percent last year, putting him right on Cooperstown's doorstep.
"I always have been very realistic," Martinez said. "I think of guys like Jim Rice; he had pretty good numbers and it took him 15 years. I don't put too many hopes on it. I think it's easier to deal with the outcome that way."
The Mariners' public relations department on Tuesday e-mailed a well-produced portfolio of Martinez's credentials to potential BBWAA voters — a comprehensive package upon which they have been working long and hard.
"We just wanted to make sure they had Edgar on their minds when it came time to vote," said Randy Adamack, the Mariners' vice president of communications.
It's hard for anyone to read this vast compilation of Martinez's accomplishments — even those who will downgrade him for being a designated hitter, and for not getting close to 3,000 hits — and not at least give him legitimate consideration.
That's all Martinez wants — a fair shake. And it just so happens that some of the statistics in which Martinez is at his strongest — on-base percentage, and OPS (on-base plus slugging) — have a greater appreciation now than when he played.
"I think, with time, people might see there's more to my numbers," said Martinez.
They have 15 years to figure it out. The clock starts ... now.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Larry Stone
Larry Stone gives an inside look at the national baseball scene every Sunday. Look for his weekly power rankings during the season.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.