Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THAT'S WHAT THEY DESIGNATED HIM FOR: In a few days, an electorate that ranges from insightful to barely literate will mail in its Baseball Hall of Fame ballots, and too few of those ballots will have Edgar Martinez on them.

The case for Edgar Martinez is simple. He was, in his 16+ seasons, one of the game's elite hitters. His career numbers -- depressed by a subpar final season and the three years he spent leading AAA in batting, thus shortening his peak -- include a .312 batting average (including two batting titles and seven top-8 finishes), a .418 OBP (including three OBP titles and 11 top-6 finishes), and a .515 slugging percentage (including six top-10 finishes). His career OBP is 22nd of all time; his career OPS is 34th. Other than Shoeless Joe Jackson (banned from baseball), Ferris Fain (1947-55), and Max Bishop (1924-35), Edgar has the highest OBP of any HOF-eligible player who is not in the HOF; only 10 members of the HOF have higher OBPs than he does. Edgar had eight seasons with an OPS+ greater than 150, and as ESPN's David Schoenfeld points out, only 24 other players can say that, all of whom (a) are in the Hall of Fame; (b) will be in the Hall of Fame; (c) are formally or informally barred from the HOF for steroid or gambling reasons; or (c) are Dick Allen. That he did all of this with a degenerative eye disease, as a right-handed batter (his 1992 batting average was the highest for a right-handed hitter since 1959), playing a significant portion of his career in Safeco (which disfavors RH hitters in a way that park adjustments don't reflect) is simply icing on the cake. With those numbers, plus the fact that he is, by all accounts, a wonderful human being (he is one of 8 MLB players to have been inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame), if his hat said "NY" or "B," he certainly would be in the Hall of Fame.

There are two, and exactly two, things that will keep him out. The first is that he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. Some of the people who make this argument believe that the DH is not a valid baseball position (and perhaps is just a passing phase), or at least is less valid than others. To these people, I say: (a) the NL is more likely to adopt the DH than the AL is to jettison it; (b) the DH is now old enough to run for President, and its children can vote for it; (c) nobody ever argues that AL pitchers should be excluded from the HOF because they don't bat; (d) the HOF includes, legitimately, a number of relief specialists whose contributions to the game are subsantially inferior to Martinez's; and (e) the HOF is already a little bit pregnant -- a third and a quarter of the games played by Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Jim Rice (two players whose offensive stats were inferior to Martinez's) were at DH. Those two would not be in the HOF but for their performance as designated hitters. A more sophisticated argument is that Martinez should be penalized, not excluded, for being a DH. The response to this is that: (a) using Fangraphs's positional adjustment of -17.5 runs/season for a DH, Martinez's stats suffer, but he remains above the HOF cutoff; but (b) who penalizes players for defense, anyway? Under this argument, Edgar still comes out only slightly behind, say, Manny Ramirez (a somewhat better LH hitter, but a spectacularly bad fielder playing a -7.5 defensive position) and substantially ahead of Jim Rice (a worse hitter playing a -7.5 defensive position badly). More generally, in response to both of these arguments, look: DH is a position played, pursuant to the rules of professional baseball, by professional baseball players. If baseball recognizes the position, shouldn't baseball's Hall of Fame recognize the greatest DH of the first 30 years of that position?

The other argument that people raise with respect to Martinez is that his rate stats are great, but his counting stats are so-so. Me, I'm a big fan of rate stats; not so much a fan of career counting stats. They reward people who hang on too long and who hurt their teams by making a lot of outs while pursuing a few hits and homers. But if you care about those things, then consider this: (a) one of the reasons that Edgar has too few hits is that the idiot Mariners left him to abuse AAA pitching for three years while Jim Presley stunk up the hot corner in Seattle; and (b) another is that he walked so often -- he theoretically could have traded many of his walks for somewhat fewer hits, but that would have hurt his team. The fact is that when Martinez came to the plate, pitchers did not say to themselves, "I should pitch to him -- he doesn't have that many career hits." Pitchers knew that Martinez would punish them if they threw him anything to hit, and he did, which is why they often didn't give him anything to hit.

Edgar Martinez won't be in the Hall of Fame this year, but he should be.


  1. Players I'd vote for this year: Martinez, Alomar, McGwire, Larkin.  I'm still on the fence on Bly11, even though I know as an alleged stathead I shouldn't be.

  2. Mr. Cosmo5:57 PM

    Martinez will get in in a few years -- over/under on his initial percentage?  I'll say 40%.

  3. He's on my list:

    Roberto Alomar
    Harold Baines
    Bert Blyleven
    Andre Dawson
    Edgar Martinez
    Tim Raines
    Lee Smith

    (I had a real hard time with Larkin and Trammell, but I figured seven was pushing it.)

  4. ChinMusic6:44 PM

    I'll take the way under on that one.  If you are going to be a HOF DH, you probably need to break 200 hits occasionally or have more than a single season where you broke 30 home runs (especially if that 30+ HR season comes at age 37 and represents a 27% increase from your career high HR mark).  Barring that, you probably reach the 100 walk level regularly.  Sure these are arbitrary round number cut-offs, but other guys have achieved them.  According to Baseball Reference, none of his comparable hitters are hall of famers and they all played the field, too.  Also, his "ink" scores are borderline HOF, at best.  I understand that his counting numbers are low because he got a late start, but guys have all kinds of reasons why their careers turn out different than they expected.  Was he a great hitter? Sure.  Can a case be made that he is a hall of famer? Absolutely.  Is he better than some guys already in the Hall of Fame?  Sure, but this isn't about setting the floor.  If you want to make my hypothetical hall of fame ballot, and you only hit, you need to be the best hitter of your time. 

  5. Anonymous7:49 PM

    I'd take the under, too, but that's only because I'm being descriptive, not prescriptive.  I think there is a lot of validity for the argument that it doesn't matter why Martinez got a late start -- frankly, I think that's probably right, and maybe I shouldn't have put the delay thing in the post.  But I also think that only affects his counting stats, which are really not all that important given his rate stats.  I really don't understand why 3,000 hits or 200 hits should matter if a guy played 16 years and was always at or near the top of the league in OBP.  So he got on base somehow other than swinging the bat -- what does that matter?  As for regularly hitting the 100-walk level (which I've never heard as an alternative HOF qualification), he did hit it for four straight years, and he hit 90+ walks for seven straight years (would have been nine but for the injury-shortened eighth year).  Anyway, talking about seasonal hit numbers vs. seasonal walk numbers and then complaining about the totals is pure sophistry, since those (along with outs) are the key components of the more important stat, OBP, that makes Martinez look the best.  When you think about it, it's really kind of a weird argument.

    One thing that will kill Martinez is that people who live in places where they didn't get to see him regularly seem to be looking for arguments to keep him out (like breaking OBP into hits and walks and arguing that he didn't have enough of either).  He was a great hitter -- not a good hitter, but a great hitter -- and not enough people realize that.  And it would be mathematically wrong to penalize him more than 17.5 runs a year for doing it at DH. 

    Anyway, it's an argument, and I recognize it's going to happen.  One thing that I think should not happen, though, is the drawing of the inference that it looks like you're drawing from his 2000 HR total.  You can look at baseball in the steroid era one of two ways -- assume everybody is guilty, or assume everybody is innocent until proven guilty.  If you assume the former, then you can't give anybody any penalties, because everybody is guilty.  If you assume the latter, then please state your case.  He's not on the Mitchell Report, he's never been associated with the leaked list, he's not in Canseco's book, not a single person associated with baseball has ever accused him of anything, he has a full head of hair, he didn't have acne, his body looked the same (thick, kind of dumpy) in 2000 as in 1994, he was one of the most self-controlled, least volatile, least erratic players in baseball, he is respected by virtually every person in the game.  The notion that anybody's career year, even a late-career career year, can be dismissed as drug-induced, res ipsa loquitur, is just not right. 

  6. Isaac Spaceman7:52 PM

    That was me.

  7. For those of you who mention Larkin as being on your ballots - why? Aside from some rather lackluster stats, he averaged less than 119 games a season (less if you include his debut season). You can't vote him in based on what he could have achieved if he hadn't been almost constantly hurt. Just being Peter Gammons' second-favorite player for the 90's doesn't get it done, either.

  8. ChinMusic9:35 PM

    I think we both agree there is a case to be made for Martinez and there are arguments that will be raised against him.  As far as the inference from the 2000 HR totals, I think there is a middle ground between the two absolute positions that you offer: skepticism.  If someone gets a jolt of power at an advanced age while closing out a borderline HOF career, it is prudent to see if there might be an artificial reason for it.  Maybe Edgar's numbers jumped from the move from the Kindome to Safeco field about that time.  I don't know enough about those parks to know if it could help explain his career high in HRs the first full year Safeco was open.  But I do know enough to know that I can't accept every total at face value. 

    Edgar had a great career.  His 1995 season was one of the greatest all-time.  But, the "punishment" for being a DH goes beyond the mathematical.  DHing keeps a guy fresh, exposes him to less chance of injury, frees him up to focus on hitting 100% of the time.  It is not just about the value he does not add to the team by not playing defense, it is also about the benefit he gets from being able to focus purely on hitting.  Like relief pitchers, if DHs are going to have a limited role, they need to be transcendent.  They can't just put up good numbers (Lee Smith).  Unlike relief pitchers, we haven't found the guy to break the barrier for DHs.  Maybe it should have been Baines.  Maybe it is Martinez.  I wouldn't be as disappointed about him getting in as I was about Rice--he won't lower the bar for other guys--but I don't think the hall is incomplete without him.

  9. Alex Gordon10:14 PM

    The fact that Dawson hasn't been elected yet is a crime.

  10. Maybe this doesn't matter, maybe it does but when Edgar retired Bud Selig thought enough of his numbers and his career to not only appear at his retirement ceremony, but to rename the Designated Hitter of the Year award after Edgar.  I only mention it because the commissioner of baseball obviously wanted to do what he could to boost Edgar's chance of making the Hall.

    On a personal note I hope Edgar and Barry Larkin make the Hall together. They were my favorite players not named Griffey for several years.

  11. Setting aside my personal belief that the designated hitter position is an abomination, these are some very interesting arguments.  I had not considered the concept that, if relief specialists are eligible, then why not designated hitters? 

    One thing that I think does distinguish relief pitchers from designated hitters, though, is that they do have to do the other baseball task that you would expect a starting pitcher to do:  defense.  You don't really expect a starting pitcher to hit well---ideally, one can do a good sacrifice bunt, and there have been the occasional good-hitting pitchers.  [The Braves pitchers prided themselves on that.  I still laugh when I think of Greg Maddux hitting a triple.  One of the announcers said that it had replaced the Kentucky Derby as the most exciting two minutes in sports.]  But crappy hitting won't keep a top-notch starting pitcher out of the Hall of Fame.  [And starting pitchers and relief pitchers alike don't bat much in the American League, due to the DH position.]  Crappy defense, though, would definitely be factored in when evaluating a pitcher of any flavor for the Hall of Fame, I would think. So, a relief pitcher does the two tasks that are the most important for evaluating a pitcher for Hall of Fame consideration---pitching and defense.

    With a regular position player, while great defense is not typically the top qualification of a Hall of Famer, it does get factored in for a position player.  Sure, you may get a very different set of stats being considered for different position players---Ozzie Smith had defense considered as a very important factor, while top hitters may be more indifferent as defensive players.  But it gets considered for all of them.  With a designated hitter, you are judging solely on the hitting and (rarely, I would think) their baserunning.  [Most designated hitters are not the world's fleetest runners.  I suppose there is a question as to caginess of baserunning.]  This, to me, makes evaluating a designated hitter different from evaluating a relief pitcher, who (while out there for less time during a game and likely not batting often, if ever), does do the tasks at the heart of being a good pitcher---pitching and defense---while a designated hitter misses half of the equation at the heart of being a good position player---actually playing a defensive position.

  12. kevbo nobo11:13 AM

    So where would Harold Baines fit?  I don't have all those wonky stats but his bat's aim was true.

  13. Adam C.11:21 AM

    I'd send my imaginary votes this year to Blyleven, Raines, Edgar (I think Isaac makes a convincing set of arguments, including his point that Edgar's righthandedness helps tip the scales in his favor), Larkin and Alomar.  I think that there is a high likelihood, however, that no one among that group garners the required number of votes for induction.  If anyone gets in, it'll likely be Bert and/or Dawson.

  14. ChinMusic12:18 PM

    Is there really a chance Alomar doesn't get in this year? Even with 12 straight all-star appearances, ten gold gloves, five times in the top-10 for MVP and four silver slugger awards?  I realize those awards are not as good as statistics at identifying the best players, but when it comes to HOF, enshrinement runs through many of the same folks handing out the yearly hardware.  I can't believe they would turn on him now.  Throw in the fact that he played a traditionally offensively limited position (2B) and that he stole 470 bases at an 80% clip and I don't think the writers will be able to vote him in fast enough. For what it is worth, his top two comps are Jeter, seemingly a no doubt HOF, and Lou Whitaker, who should at least be in the discussion but lasted only one year on the ballot, so that doesn't help much.  The next two comps are Frisch (HOF) and Larkin (likely, but not definite, to get in someday).  This guy was widely regarded as the dominant 2B in the American League for the entire 1990s, I have to believe he gets in easily. 

  15. Isaac Spaceman12:21 PM

    Jenn -- sounds like you're trying to convince yourself.  Quick -- name three pitchers whose defense helped or hurt their Hall of Fame case.  Now name three pitchers whose defense had an observable effect on their runs allowed. 

    Me either. 

  16. ChinMusic12:29 PM

    Also, Baines is a poor man's Edgar Martinez.  He hung around longer, so he turned in higher counting numbers, almost reaching 3000 hits and 400 HRs, but he did not hit for power any more than Martinez and didn't get on base as frequently or hit for average anywhere as well as Martinez.  But, he did kind of define the career DH position, paving the way for Edgar, if such a thing could be proven.  Funny thing is, I always remember Baines being a far more dangerous hitter than his stats indicate looking at them now.  He never hit 30 HRs, never scored 100 runs, only knocked in 100 runs three times, never hit higher than .313 for a season, only crossed the .400 OBP once and only slugged over .500 five times.  But, I wasn't alone in my irrational fear of him -- he is 20th all-time in intentional walks.

  17. Isaac Spaceman12:32 PM

    By the way, re Chin Music's comment that DHing keeps a guy fresh, I am not going to argue that this is not true, but I don't understand it.  Certainly it is a consensus among baseball people -- not just old-school baseball people, but a lot of stat-minded folks like Dave Cameron, for example -- that this is true.  I just don't understand it.  If you're a 3B, you have to sprint a little bit a few times a game.  If you're a LF, you have to sprint slightly more a few times a game.  If you're a 1B, you have to sprint a little bit a couple of times a game and catch a lot of balls, most of them routine.  Those guys get more strenuous exercise during warmups (in which DHs participate) than in games.  And then the notion that a DH can "concentrate solely on hitting," again, I just don't get it.  When he's in the box, is he thinking about what routes to take to fly balls?  (Leaving aside the contradictory old saw, almost certainly fictive but oft-repeated by ex-player color types, that when somebody makes a great play in the field, he follows it up by doing something great at the plate.)  I understand giving a CF or middle infielder, or even a particularly hard-charging fielder, a day off, and I understand giving creaky old knees a day off (especially on turf), but otherwise this argument befuddles me.  Again, I'm absolutely, positively, not saying it's wrong.  I just don't know whether it's wrong or right, and don't see any reason why it would be right. 

  18. Isaac Spaceman12:36 PM

    I agree with Chin Music on Alomar -- he is both descriptively and prescriptively a lock.  If he doesn't get in this year, it will only be because people remember him spitting on an ump. 

  19. Adam C.12:46 PM

    Jenn, I'm not sure I understand your point re: RPs and defense.  Like Isaac, I don't think any of the RPs (or SPs) who have been evaluated for the HOF found the scales tipped one way or the other because of their fielding abilities; the RPs who have been inducted and/or are even in the discussion are there because, for the most part, they made batters either miss or hit grounders and lazy fly balls.  If your point relates instead to the defense behind those RPs, then I don't think that's a particularly valid measure of any pitcher's HOF-worthiness.

    I think the point Schoenfeld makes about Edgar's position switch is illuminating:  he wasn't moved to DH because he was a lousy fielder.  In fact, during the five seasons in which he spent all or most of his time in the field, he was a decent defensive 3B -- no Michael Jack Schmidt or Brooks Robinson (at least as far as Range Factor stats go, which I know are imperfect but are all we have to compare EM's defense with the players of earlier eras), but certainly serviceable, and better than his successor at third, Mike Blowers.  He was moved to DH because he tore his hamstring and the M's wanted to preserve his health - a smart decision, as it turned out.  How is that markedly different from, say, the circumstances that gave Eckersley the opportunity to transition from being a good but inconsistent starting pitcher to a dominant, HOF closer?

    On ChinMusic's Robbie Alomar point, I agree that he's deserving, but I don't think he makes it on the first ballot for three reasons:  the way his performance dropped off a cliff in the waning years of his career, the spitting incident, and the sensational headlines he garnered earlier this year (whether or not there was any merit to them).  I'm not saying any one of these things SHOULD be held against him (maybe the performance drop-off, but that's still a blip compared to his lengthy prime)...only that I think it's likely that enough voters WILL hold one or more of these things against him in his first go-round.

  20. Isaac Spaceman1:09 PM

    Re Edgar's switch -- he may not have been moved because he was a bad defensive player, but he could not have been a good defensive player in the last half of his career.  By 2000 or so he was almost certainly the slowest player in the league.  I can't think of anybody who was even close.  Even if moved to 1B, his range would have been limited.  So I'm not as inclined as Schoenfeld to say he was a good defender who didn't play defense.  DH was his natural position, and he was the best there was. 

  21. Jenn.1:22 PM

    Can I point to marginal cases where a pitcher made the Hall or didn't make the Hall because of the caliber of their defense?  No.  Do I think that it comes up as part of the analysis?  Sure.

    And I know that experts will tell you that Maddux's, Mussina's, and Buehrle's ERAs were lower over their careers because of their excellent defense.

    Really, being a pitcher is a purely defensive position.  Are there pitchers who succeed despite being crappy at holding runners on or who otherwise play weak defense?  Sure.  Here's one:  Randy Johnson.  And a number of relief pitchers are known for failing to hold runners on.  Of course, there is the fact that they are known for that failure.  It is certainly one of the known stats for a pitcher, just as a pitcher, such as Terry Mulholland, being excellent at picking off runners is a known stat.  So, yes, I will say that I think that the caliber of pitchers is judged not only by balls thrown but also by other defensive stats.

  22. Adam C.1:22 PM

    I see your distinction, Isaac, and I agree - but I think Schoenfeld's point was not so much that Edgar was or should be in the defensive discussion among 3Bs as it was that the decision to switch a then perfectly adequate fielder to DH was a (rational, smart) baseball decision driven by the Ms desire to maximize both Edgar's inarguable talents and his time spent on the active roster and off the DL.  

  23. My feeling is, when you look at Baine's similarity scores and the two highest comparisons to him are Tony Perez and Al Kaline, I'm hard pressed to keep him out of the Hall.

  24. Interesting discussion.  Edgar was a great hitter, no question.  But there are some knocks against him that I have trouble getting past.
    There are two, and exactly two, things that will keep him out. The first is that he spent most of his career as a designated hitter
    He had no value whatsoever outside the batters box.  And as a DH, I really believe that you hurt your team beyond simply not helping in the field.  You clog the roster and line-up.  Would Ken Griffey be helathier later in his career if he could have rested a few more days at DH?  Would the team have been better off if Buhner could have DHed some days instead of playing the outfield with that leg/shoulder injury?  Does Raul Ibanez get full time at bats before age 28 if that DH slot could have been added to the three outfield slots for a rotation?  Could they have had a better hitter than Paul Sorrento at DH if Edgar could have played first?
    These are all factors that the WARs and Win Shares don't capture despite being "all encompassing" stats. 
    The other argument that people raise with respect to Martinez is that his rate stats are great, but his counting stats are so-so. 
    Agree that his rate stats are great and worthy of tremendous respect.  But his counting stats not being so hot can't just be ignored in my opinion.  Counting stats are very context driven and thus not necessarily a great measure of how well a guy hit. But you know what, Edgar actually played on a lot of very good teams.  The fact that on these high scoring, high powered teams he still didn't amass great counting numbers means he was either very unlucky or it means something.
    There is also a fundemental question in all of this.  When evaluating players for predictive purposes, then rate stats are definitely the way to go.  They tell you who is likely to do the most to help you score runs in the future.  But if you are evaluting for the hall of fame, I don't really care that Edgar would have been a hall of fame player in more situations than Fred Mcgriff.  What I care about is what Edgar and Fred actually did. And if we agree that the OPS+ of the world are measured because they help show how good you are at creating runs, then surely the actual runs driven in or scored do really count.  Again, we are no longer trying to predict, we are now just trying measure the actual accomplishment. (and this also speaks to the notion of giving him credit for the fact that Mariners gave him a late start or he maybe coulda played 3rd base more. With the potential exception of the war years, you should get credit for what you did, not what you might have done.)
    So putting it all together, Edgar was a great hitter who accomplished a little less than his talent would have predicted and did it in a way that actually made the team less flexible, potentially hurt other players, and added nothing to the team 50% of all plays.  Was his + hitting enough to overcome that?  I think its close, but to me I think the answer is no.

  25. "And as a DH, I really believe that you hurt your team beyond simply not helping in the field. You clog the roster and line-up."

    Wow, there's a difference in philosophy that I can't disagree with more. You may not be adding anything in the field, but you are not harming them. On the contrary, you are adding offensive value by hitting for a pitcher, who is generally a much-lower hitting player than the rest of his teammates. I have to stick this statement on the shelf along with Dusty Baker complaining about walks because they "clog up the basepaths."

  26. Isaac Spaceman3:15 PM

    1.  If Pujols could play shortstop, the Cardinals could put a better hitter at 1B than they currently have at SS.  That is both the point and the theoretical underpinning of the calculation that gets you the positional adjustments.  You can count it, but don't count it twice (and multiply it the second time). 

    2.  Rate states are no less a record of what actually happened than counting stats.  Martinez actually got on base about 42% of the time he came to the plate.  Actually not making outs is the most important thing that a hitter can do to create runs.  (The second most important thing -- hit with power -- is something that this thread seems to imply that Martinez was not all that good at.  That is false.  He is 69th in career slugging percentage, which means that he was spectacular at one thing and damn good at another.) 

    3.  Even if rate stats were exclusively predictive (and they are absolutely not), it is a weird pairing of arguments to say that rate stats should be discounted as "coulda-woulda-shoulda" but the DH position should be penalized more than statistically warranted because it is in the realm of purely conjectural possibility that playing a DH at a different position could have extended careers or avoided injuries.  (Incidentally, though Griffey's defensive abilities never matched his reputation, this is literally the first time in my life that I have heard the argument that Edgar's DHing hurt the Mariners because it prevented Griffey from not playing CF).  I'm not sure why I care how Edgar DHing affected Griffey's tenure in Cincinnati, anyway.   

    4.  The world would be a much, much better place if people just did not use "runs batted in" or "player runs scored" to make arguments about individual performance. 

  27. Absolutely agree that not making outs is the most important thing a player can do to creating runs.  But unless those runs are actually created, then it isn't clear that not making the out is anything more than predictive of what could have happened in other situations.  I am not saying that the rate stats aren't the most important.  All I am saying is that completely dismissing the counting stats is a bit myopic just as paying attention solely to them is. 

    As for the DH issue, it is is not at all conjectural that his presence in the line-up at DH limited the teams flexibility.  What the effect of that limited flexibility is certainly up for debate.  But I suspect that the negative impact of that lack of flexibility is more than 0 which is what is generally assumed to be. (and my understanding of positional adjustments is that it helps measure the difficulty to get someone else to fill that role as opposed to the opportunity cost of having that role filled.)

  28. Isaac Spaceman4:33 PM

    That first paragraph does not state a distinction between counting stats and rate stats.  A hit is a counting stat, but under your definition if it does not create a run (i.e., it does not drive in a run and doesn't result in the hitter being driven in), then it "isn't clear that [the hit] is anything more than predictive of what could have happened in other situations" (like when there is a runner in scoring position or the next batter hits a double, two things over which the batter has no control).  Even home runs, which are counting stats that by definition result in at least one run, would be partially "predictive" because the number of runs created depends entirely upon how many people were on base when they were hit.  I see that you have an intuition that you're on to something there, but it's not making sense to me at all.  And I assume you're just talking about hits and maybe home runs.  If you're talking about RBIs, then we should just stop talking, because you should never mix religion and science. 

    As for the second paragraph, now we're using "limitation of flexibility, consequence unknowable" as a Hall of Fame demerit?  But you don't think you're just using it as a makeweight to justify your preconception that Edgar doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?  If you insist on keeping that, let's just put it in the bucket with Edgar's grit, hustle, moxie, professionalism, and clubhouse leadership and see how much it sours the soup. 

  29. I suspect we simply have a different view of what the hall of fame should be for.  Lets look at WPA for instance.  Edgar's career WPA is around 45.  Which is very good, but on a McGriff/Delgado level as opposed to a Manny or Bagwell level.  Point being that in the decriptive/story telling stats Edgar didn't perform quite as well as the rate stats would seem to have predicted.  So while his talent may have been proven to be at a certain level, his actual impact is at another.  And yes, i think that when measuring for the hall of fame actual impact should be the measuring stick as opposed to talent.

  30. MidwestAndrew5:05 PM

    I made a deal with a certain Isaac Spaceman many months ago that if he would support Greinke for AL Cy Young, that I would support Edgar Martinez for HOF. And I heartily do. He deserves it (I will not recount the numerous statistical reasons for that point).

    I fear Edgar Martinez will become the Bert Blyleven of this generation: powerful, deserving, completely illogical as to their omission from the Hall of Fame.

    Alas, there are numerous people who did not make the hall even when their presence is demanded, including one more than any others: Buck O'Neil.

  31. ChinMusic6:18 PM

    <span style="color: #808080;">Andrew, I think you've been hosed.  I don't think it would have taken your Hall of Fame support to get someone familiar with baseball on board the Zack for Cy train.  </span>
    <span style="color: #808080;"></span> 
    <span style="color: #808080;">As for the question earlier about what it means to be able to think about hitting all the time when a DH, I think the point may be misunderstood.  Certainly every hitter in the box is thinking about hitting, but my concern is about the time not in the box.  For instance, David Ortiz spends time during the game reviewing video of himself and the opposing pitcher.  He can do this because he is not on the field.  Similarly, Ortiz and other DHs can devote 100% of their non-playing time to focusing on hitting, whereas other players must spend time focusing on defense.  This isn't just things like infield practice, but it is also things like meeting with the advance scouts to discuss positioning and coverage for certain opposing hitters. As an extreme counter-example, many good defensive catchers are given a pass on their poor offense because it is assumed they spend their time preparing for their catching duties.  Don't get me wrong, Edgar Martinez would have been a great hitter even if he played the field.  But, he probably had a little more durability from staying off the field and he probably had a little more productivity hitting because he was able to focus on it exclusively.  So, the penalty for being a DH goes beyond the value he did not provide defensively.  I actually don't have a problem with Martinez going in because it at least sets the bar for a DH in the hall of fame and we can use that to consider other cases.  I am concerned if he goes in early and overwhelmingly that it will be seen as evidence that Edgar is the ceiling and not the floor for what we expect of HOF DHs.  As good as he was, I would not want to see a lesser caliber DH make it in.  </span>

  32. Isaac Spaceman6:57 PM

    Yeah, I don't remember that deal.  Sure didn't cost me anything -- I recall saying at the time that there aren't many bigger Felix fans than me, but even I thought it was Greinke and not close. 

  33. Isaac Spaceman7:31 PM

    Incidentally, I'm going to ignore the late-inning switch to WPA and all of the separate issues that raises.  What I will not leave uncontested is the statement that I advocate Martinez's induction because of his inchoate talent as opposed to his actual impact.  Martinez didn't have .312/.418/.515 talent; he actually hit .312/.418/.515.  Those are facts, not opinions or predictions.  To be clear, I do not think the HOF should be for the most talented players, irrespective of impact.  I think that Edgar Martinez's actual impact on the game merits his inclusion. 

    As for "storytelling stats," I'll tell you a story.  Once upon a time, the Mariners were going to leave Seattle.  Then Edgar doubled in Ken Griffey Jr. in the greatest game of all time, because he was FUCKING AWESOME.  And they all lived happily ever after.  The end. 

  34. Shane1:00 AM

    There are cases that I believe would prove Dave's point about having one player plugged in as your DH hurting your team in the long run (David Ortiz over the last couple seasons jumps out at me), but using Edgar Martinez to make your argument is crazy. How can you possibly argue that not having Edgar in 1995 would have made the M's better? This sort of like arguing the Colts are too tied down with Payton Manning at QB, their possibilities of running the Wildcat are severely limited with Manning behind center. They need a versatile QB like Pat White to open up the playbook and give them more flexibility.  Sometimes flexibility isn't what's needed, sometimes greatness and consistency are what's needed and Edgar provided that to the Mariners his entire career.