Edgar Martinez Following Reese’s Unfortunate Path

The 2012 Hall of Fame voting results were really never in question — this was Barry Larkin‘s year. The only question would be how close certain other players could inch towards their own home in Cooperstown. A few took steps forward — Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines enjoyed substantial gains. Others, like Mark McGwire, took steps back.

Edgar Martinez was a member of the final category — those that moved laterally, showing little to no momentum. Martinez debuted on the ballot in 2010 with 36.2% of the vote, slipped back to 32.9% last year, and just managed to claw his way back to his starting point this year, landing 36.5% of the vote. Although there have been a few players to start in the same vicinity as Martinez and make it to Cooperstown — Rich Gossage and Eddie Mathews, for example, these players have typically gained large amounts of support in their second or third years on the ballot before making it in. Martinez’s stagnation instead is reminiscent of a current Hall of Famer who had to rely upon the Veteran’s Committee for induction: Pee Wee Reese.

Reese’s candidacy opened at 36.3%, and much like Martinez’s, it struggled to get off the ground early. He would never make it over 50% of the vote in his 15 years on the ballot.

On the field, Martinez and Reese were complete opposites. Reese was a slick-fielding shortstop for the Jackie Robinson-era Dodgers, appearing in the All-Star games in 1942 as well as every year from 1946 through 1954 (missing 1943-1945 due to World War II). His reputation as a fantastic defender is backed up by TotalZone, which rates him as a +117 shortstop over the course of his career, including five seasons at +10 or better. However, he had a fatal flaw in the eyes of the Hall of Fame voters: a merely average bat. Reese finished with a career 104 wRC+, but much of this value was based on plate discipline. His .269 average and 126 home runs apparently didn’t add up to much in the eyes of Hall of Fame voters, but the strength of his glove and a solid .366 on-base percentage make him a Hall of Fame-quality player through the lens of WAR, as his 69.7 mark finishes right around players such as Tony Gwynn and Roberto Alomar even though he lost his age 24 through 26 seasons to the war.

It is the reverse argument which is likely to keep Martinez out of the Hall. Martinez’s incredible .312/.418/.515 line is clearly a Hall of Fame level bat — only 34 other players have a higher wRC+ than Martinez’s 148 with at least 5000 plate appearances. However, Martinez’s status as the designated hitter has been the deciding factor for a litany of voters to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. Perhaps with Martinez there is a bit more of a question than Reese — Martinez’s 69.9 WAR is less impressive than Reese’s 69.7 given the loss of prime years to military service for the latter, and other players with similar marks have been left out (Alan Trammell, Dick Allen and Willie Randolph, for example). But personally, I believe Martinez and his bat deserve enshrinement despite his limitations as a fielder.

Pee Wee Reese did eventually (and deservedly) gain his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, but only thanks to the Veteran’s Committee. Unless the voters for the Hall of Fame drastically change their stance on the designated hitter in the next few years, it would seem Edgar Martinez will need to take the same route to Cooperstown.




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91 Responses to “Edgar Martinez Following Reese’s Unfortunate Path”

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  1. Baltar says:

    I’m surprised that Eddie Matthews had trouble getting into the Hall. For one thing, I suppose, his incredible number of walks weren’t appreciated at the time.
    During the time he and Aaron played together, a case could be made that he was even better than Hank.

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    • JimNYC says:

      Because Eddie Mathews fell off a cliff — he was completely finished as a useful player by age 33, and that type of player has a long and storied history of having a hard time getting in the Hall, unless they’re Mickey Mantle or they have some kind of specific, debilitating injury that shortened their career (Koufax, Puckett, Sisler, etc.).

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      • Trenchtown says:

        Mickey Mantle did not fall off a cliff, offense did. In 1964, the last year Mantle hit .300. the AL scored 4.1 runs per game. In his last year in 1968, the average runs per game had dropped to 3.4. Even down to Mantle’s last year he was rocking 140 wRC+/OPS+. If going from Miguel Cabrera in an average year down to Justin Upton is falling off a cliff, that is how I want my players to fall.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        WAR by age for Mathews:
        33: 5.9
        34: 3.7
        35: 2.1

        Not exactly completely finished as a useful player by 33.

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      • Mofungo says:

        Matthews career “fell off a cliff” after 12 years of HOF performance and his age 33 – 34 years were not up to that level but still productive

        Let’s save the “fell off a cliff” thing for players like Don Mattingly or Dale Murphy

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  2. cteno says:

    Don’t forget that suspicion of performance enhancement dogs Edgar Martinez (and deservedly). Voters and anyone who is not fatally naive believes that he performance was aided through the use of drugs. Martinez hit fewer than 50 home runs before he was 30 years. His late age performance boom is undeniably suspect. He had a strong year when he was 29 in 1992 but all 7 of the years that his OPS exceed .965 were in his 30′s.
    Statisticians should use their skills to mete out cheats. Martinez doesn’t deserve articles that compare him to to Tony Gwynn, Alan Trammell or Dick Allen. What would Martinez’s resume look like if he declined like a normal player and did not hit 5 times as many homeruns after he hit his 30th birthday? Maybe we would be comparing him to Mike Greenwell and not Pee Wee Reese. I am serious, look at Mike Greenwell and tell me what his career would look like if his stats were inflated.

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    • Shawn says:

      His late age performance booms were due to the fact that he didn’t even start until his age 27 season. And from there on out, his only bad seasons were 1993 where he was hurt and his final year in 2004. And it’s not like Edgar was bad from 87-89, as his minor league numbers show he did hit well. Its just the Mariners were dumb and decided that his at bats should go to Jim Presley who had an OPS+ of 87 during that time period.

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    • Jon L. says:

      I think Gwynn looks like a more likely steroid user than Edgar. Gwynn reached extraordinary new heights at an age when most players are in severe decline, and has since experienced some bizarre health issues.

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    • Jon L. says:

      Gwynn hit .329 with a 130 OPS+ in 5751 PA’s from age 24-32 (boosted by great seasons at 24 and 27, when players commonly peak in batting average – he hit .319 with a 122 OPS+ in 3024 at-bats in the five seasons from age 28 to age 32). He then improved tremendously from age 33 to age 37, batting an incredible .368 with a 145 OPS+ in 2735 PA’s. He best two seasons for home runs came at age 37 and 38, and even at age 39 his slugging percentage was still vastly higher than it had been in any season during his “peak.”

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Tony Gwynn’s HR:

        84: 5
        85: 6
        86: 14
        87: 7
        88: 7
        89: 4
        90: 4
        91: 4
        92: 6
        93: 7
        94: 12
        95: 9
        96: 3
        97: 17
        98: 16
        99: 10

        What explains him hitting 14 HR in ’86 and then not hitting 10 home runs in a season again for 8 years? It appears that as a young player he had more of a focus on speed and just putting the ball in play, whereas later on his focus was on hitting that ball harder.

        I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we could find interviews from Gwynn explaining a deliberate change in approach.

        I think we would also have to look at changes in baseball stadiums. During those years caverns and/or cookie cutter parks like the Astrodome and Busch Stadium (3 Rivers, Riverfront, Veterans, etc) were replaced by Busch 2 and Enron (GAB, etc) which were hitters parks.

        Be interesting to see if his change in hitting was reflected in home/away stats. During these years, didn’t many teams bring in the fences? As opposed to SEA which went from the Kingdome to Safeco.

        Interesting discussion.

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      • Dan says:

        Don’t you have to work out to benefit from steroids? Steroids themselves don’t make you stronger–they just allow you to work out and recover more effectively.

        I think we can clearly see from photographic evidence that Gwynn was not doing a whole lot of late-career lifting.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Dan, sometimes the best answer is, in fact, the most obvious one.

        Excellent point.

        Some shady steroid dealers have been known to sell vials of vegetable oil to unknowing customers instead of steroids. That might explain some of the weight gain around the middle. *grin*

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      • Jon L. says:

        The point is more his tremendously improved and more consistent performance in his mid-30′s (although it’s also interesting, if not quite as suggestive, that he topped 7 home runs just once in the first 10 years of his career, but 5 out of 6 times during his age 34-39 seasons).

        And no, of course you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the gym to benefit from steroids. Taking batting practice and fielding practice and doing wind sprints and then playing baseball for 2.5 hours every day puts plenty of wear on the body, and allows for plenty of benefit for better muscle-building and faster recovery. Ask any 35-year-old guy how he feels the day after a 7-inning pick-up softball game (even if he’s not obese), much less 9 innings of major league baseball.

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      • AdamM says:

        I dunno, Gwynn won 4 batting titles in his 20s, then another 4 batting titles in his 30s. The increased batting average and slugging can be largely attributed this his decreased K rate in his late 30s. During his 4 straight batting titles in his 30s, he only struck out 79 times (!). In his age 26-29 years, where he won 3 batting titles, he struck out 140 times.

        Do steroids help you strike out less?

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      • performanceenhancement says:

        This is an excellent point. Gwynn’s numbers are incredibly suspicious. Why is this stuff not discussed much much more frequently?

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      • Jon L. says:

        Yes, steroids (or acetaminophen, for that matter) help with cutting down on strikeouts and even with strike zone judgment. When you’ experience muscle soreness, as players generally do, you start your swing slower, giving you less time to decide whether to swing, and less ability to meet the ball when you do. Greater strength and faster recovery let you get bat to ball quicker, and every fraction of a second is crucial once the pitcher releases the ball.

        The greatest example of this in baseball history is Barry Bonds in his second prime. You’d see the pitch come in, and Bonds not swinging, and then quicker than the eye the pitch goes out, and Bonds has already swung. It was almost worth the whole steroids era to witness the cartoon-like extreme of how well a man could hit.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      IMO, the career path is grounds for suspicion, but not necessarily accusation … certainly not to the point of accusation strong enough to receive “punishment”.

      Edgar’s physique also changed quite a bit. He was very slim in 1990, and not because he was 22yo. He would later become a bull-necked stocky player, to the point that we know look at his body type in regards to how Pujols might age … even though physically Pujols at 27 and Edgar at 27 are complete opposites.

      I don;t think it’s PEDs that are keeping Edgar out of the HoF, but rather being the first player to be primarily a DH and not a mega star during his career.

      FWIW, there are very few players that I like more than Edgar. But, I do concede that given the era, and the unique career path and the change in physique there is enough there to have the discussion. We saw Caminiti, McGwire, Bonds, use PEDs to have better seasons in their aging years, increase health/durability, etc during the same era. I think Jeff Bagwell may suffer from PED suspicion, while Edgar’s situation probably has more to do with DH and star quality (or lack of it).

      Edgar was a little bitty guy in 1990.
      http://shop.sportsworldcards.com/ekmps/shops/sportsworld/images/seattle-mariners-edgar-martinez-645-donruss-1989-mlb-baseball-trading-card-38648-p.jpg

      To be fair, Jim Thome underwent similar physique changes, and I don;t know very many folks that think that Thome used PEDs.

      It is very possible that Edgar is just a unique case. Unfortunately for him (if he is compleltely clean) he played in an era where unique situations came about more frequently in the past due to PED use.

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      • Choo says:

        Any 5-11 dude can develop pipes and a bull-neck if they lift as hard as Edgar did back in the day. He was the original Machine.

        I had the pleasure of shaking Edgar’s hand on the Kingdome turf during BP in 1997 and what struck me most was how much smaller he looked in person than he did on TV or photos – most of the hitters did. Point is, if the Edgar Martinez I saw was just some guy at the gym or at the beach, I seriously doubt anyone would think “PED’s.” But because he was a good baseball player who power-lifted during an unfortunate timeline, it’s the first thing some people think of . . . even people who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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      • Herrin Law says:

        Most people experience “thickening” after their early 20′s. And while it’s possible Edgar did steroids, the changes in his physique were pretty symmetrical, and his “thickening” continued in a pretty balanced way. Again, he may have used, but I don’t personally think so. Everything I know about him is that he worked really hard to fight his genes.

        Another point, some people have called out his sudden increase statistics. You might not know he has a genetic eye condition (can’t remember it’s name) that affects his ability to focus both eyes in concert. It was about the time his stats took off when he started new eye exercises every single day that supposedly helped with his eye condition so he could pick up the ball and see it’s spin.

        Just a datapoint. It would sadden me greatly if he did do steroids, and I recognize it’s possible given how pervasive they were in his era. But everything I’ve heard and seen makes me think otherwise. Maybe I just want to keep believing.

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  3. Simon says:

    I’m not sure the comparison is entirely valid. From the graph, it looks as though Reese didn’t get back to his starting % of votes until at least year 8, and possibly year 11(it’s hard to tell exactly). Martinez, on the other hand, achieved that in year 3. Obviously one data point does not indicate a trend, but I would suggest there is more hope for Martinez than there was for Reese.

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    • Jack Moore says:

      Probably a touch, but given the influx of great players in next year’s balloting, I wouldn’t be surprised if Martinez sees yet another dropoff in year 4. I also highly recommend you check the graphs here (which I meant to link, now adding to the post)

      http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/01/looking_at_some.php

      I think Reese is probably the closest analog of all the relevant players close to how Martinez started.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I had the same thought about all the players that increased their votes.

        It was a slim ballot this year.

        Once the megastars enter the ballot in future years, these guys may see a decrease in their support.

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      • Brian says:

        Some of those megastars are going to get very little support due to steroids, and that may actually wind up helping people like Edgar and Bagwell, who have had whispers (like most players) but very little concrete evidence of use.

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  4. herrin law says:

    How many pitchers are in the Hall who accumulated career stats in the American League during the DH era? It seems that the DH argument is primarily about the player being single-dimensional. Seems like the same argument could be applied against DH-era AL pitchers.

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    • Brian says:

      The DH argument should be about whether or not a DH created enough value with his bat to compensate for the fact that he never played the field. To me it’s borderline, arguable. Would not be offended if he got in but I don’t think he’s a lock either.

      Same thing with pitchers. A pitcher who amassed 110 WAR based on his pitching should be more than good enough. A pitcher with 70 WAR should IMO be seen as a borderline, maybe guy. A pitcher with only 50 WAR? No way.

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      • JimNYC says:

        Good luck on your doubtlessly succesful attempts to keep Mariano Rivera out of the Hall.

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      • Herrin Law says:

        I wouldn’t keep Rivera out. That’s actually a really good comparison. Mariano was the best at a very specific thing. A very valuable thing. And just like with Edgar, he was a specialist. He came in almost every day and got 3-4 outs. Edgar was in every day getting 3-4 at bats. And he was a terrifying hitter. I absolutely think they both should be in.

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      • Brian says:

        Jim, I think your point about Mariano is a good one. I’m not sure whether it proves that a) WAR is not always a good measure of who the all time most valuable baseball players were OR b) Mariano is a lot less valuable than most people give him credit for.

        If I didn’t know anything about WAR or sabermetrics, I probably would have argued vehemently that Mo is one of the all time 100 best players in baseball history and thus belongs in the hall of fame. As it stands, I do, and I think Mo is a curious case.

        With that being said, to me what REALLY deep down defines a hall of famer is that 75% or more of voters think a guy is a hall of famer. So while I may not personally vote for Mo depending on which conclusion I draw, if he got in, I’d be perfectly good and happy with it.

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  5. Joe says:

    I do not understand why A DH can’t get in but a position player who hurt his team significantly with his terrible defense can get in no problem. It seems like with the later type of player it isn’t even brought up.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Yeah, Hall voters are inconsistent. They tend to favor sluggers and focus more on offense at the expense of defense/position. So you’d think they’d be fine with a DH.

      The explanation is simply that Hall voters are conservative traditionalists who still don’t like the DH rule.

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  6. Neil says:

    I can’t vote for Martinez, because his WAR would not be anywhere close to HOF enshrinement if he had to play in the field.

    If was at least average at either corner IF spot for at least 10 years of his career then I would have no problem voting him in. Baseball is just not about hitting, and Martinez was abysmal anywhere but in the box.

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    • Andre says:

      Yeah, this. Edgar to me is close, but I think you have to be really, really darn good to get past that horribad fielding/DH hurdle. And I dunno, maybe other than a couple of years, how many times was Edgar considered a 10 ten player in MLB? Or top 15, or 20? I mean, that was the time of McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod, Manny, Griffey, Bonds, Larkin, Jeter (don’t laugh), etc. all in their primes. And then Edgar? I’m sorry, It’s hard for me to see; you have to squint a little too hard. I’m young and didn’t start following baseball until 1999 so take it for what it’s worth, but Edgar to me was never that guy. And the advanced stats, like his WAR totals, are nice, but even those I don’t think anyone is really arguing they are a case-closed convincing argument.

      Love Edgar, but I wouldn’t vote for him.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        He was a league average fielder at 3B for the ~3 seasons he played there.

        That was during his prime age seasons. If you remove say 0.5 WAR every other year for fielding performance decrease, you get -5 WAR for the next 10 years. If you wanna take off more you could subtract 7 WAR for an additional 4 years of fielding. I wasn’t going to remove more than 10 years, because being a DH for the last 4 years of your career is evidently not a punishable offense.

        I brought up in the other thread that baserunning is not included for much of Edgar’s career, but the part where it did exist it was not good for Gar. You could probably remove 3 more WAR for below average baserunning.

        So, now you’ve removed 8-10 WAR for the fielding he probably would have done, and 3 WAR for not being a good (or even average baserunner).

        Okay, so now you have to go back and readjust the batting WAR since we can’t punish him with fielding (removing 5-7 WAR over his last 10-14 seasons) AND subtract the DH positional adjustment (that’s double punishment).

        The difference between positional adjustment for 3B vs. DH during that time period is about -10 more runs as a DH. So now, you’re adding back in 10 WAR.

        We’d be better off just leaving at is with the DH positional adjustment, unless we feel that the DH penalty is not enough for one that is essentially a career DH.

        Really though, the “he didn’t have to field a position” only holds water if you express that you think he wouldn’t have had a career at all without the DH (due to injury). But, performance-wise, his bat was elite enough to overcome the lack of fielding.

        I have a strong feeling that Edgar is one of those guys that’s easy to argue against until you actually start getting into the details of the numbers and what amounts should be subtracted, etc. It’s easy to say “Yeah, but he didn’t XYZ ….”. But, once you start heavily penalizing him for not XYZ, he still likely has enough WAR/value left over to deserve enshrinement.

        Plus, if you don;t like total WAR and look to praise higher peak seasons, then you use wWAR … and well, Edgar looks even better.

        Then, if you want to hold PED suspicion over him, then you have leave out a whole lot of other really good players in era that did not have metronome seasons or had very good seasons late in their career, or those that gained weight over their career (Hey look, even Jim Thome).

        My initial opinion was that I was 30/70 or 40/60 that Edgar belongs in the HoF. The more I try to argue against myself that he “probably doesn’t belong in the HoF”, the more convinced I become that he probably does.

        You basically have to keep saying “Yeah, but that doesn’t seem right to me” to every statistical piece of evidence, because most arrows point to “Edgar = HoF”.

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    • Ed says:

      “Abysmal”? What exactly are you basing this on? His page here shows him as +16.0 runs defensively, accumulated through about four full seasons of play almost exclusively at 3B. So his defense through 1994 was above average. After that, he was a full-time DH, and he have no meaningful data about how capable he was as a fielder.

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      • AA says:

        So, you punish the guy for blowing his knees out, yet still being one of the best hitters in the history of baseball? Come on.

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    • OzzieGuillen says:

      Neil, I like your comment. WAR and the DH don’t feel right to me when trying to use WAR to compare across positions.

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    • Kyle K. says:

      This is, without a doubt, the worst argument against a borderline player’s candidacy I have ever heard. No hyperbole. I doubt this will ever be topped. You’re saying that Martinez’s WAR total would be different if he had been forced to play a defensive position. (And if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle!) There is one counterargument to that idea which you’re going to have a hard time refuting: HIS WAR TOTAL IS HIS WAR TOTAL IS HIS WAR TOTAL. To the extent that WAR is a stat actually reflective of what a player does on the field (which is surely a greater extent for offensive performance than defensive performance, at least for now), it is what it is what it is. Quibbling with the way a player accumulated it is the worst possible way to pick on their candidacy. Congratulations.

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    • Cidron says:

      I dont see why his fielding is held against him. I am sure he tried to improve it and for whatever reason he was unsuccessful. But, to his team’s credit, they didnt force a poor defender out there, but did find room for a wonderful bat instead. They could have cut ties with him based on his glove as well. They stuck with him, Why do we judge him by his limitations, not his successes.

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  7. Jigokusabre says:

    Excellent! Anyone who played their entire career (essentially) at DH does not deserve serious Hall of Fame consideration. If you’re not good enough to be on the field, you’re not good enough to be in the hall.

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    • Joe says:

      So by your logic, relievers shouldn’t be in the hall because they weren’t good enough to be starters.

      Like it or not the DH is a position in baseball and Edgar Martinez was the greatest DH to ever play the game. How many other players that were the greatest at their position are not in the Hall?

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      • Fiveloko says:

        It *kills* me that Ray Guy is not in the Hall.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        1. I think you could make that case against relievers. I don;t know that I would, but it would likely be a very good case. I think you could look at Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz as examples of how starters can become elite closers, but not the other way around. The best, longest lasting relievers are going to accumulate what? 1000 IP? I don;t necessarily view relievers as “failed starters” like some other people do. But, I think a case could be made that a good #2 type starter is more valuable than a very good relievers … so until we start putting good #2 starters in the HoF, we probably shouldn’t be putting relievers. A reliever, IMO, is somewhere in between a good DH and a really good PH.

        Mariano rivera would be the one consideration I would have as a reliever, including his ridiculous post-season dominance. I don;t think any other reliever can claim to have a similar or equal career as Rivera.

        2. I think someone could be justified in not voting for a DH if they viewed the position as never to be intended to be a “lifetime” position, but rather a day off or “last years of career” type position, but not necessarily “without the DH, the player would not have a career”.

        I think a person could make a valid point about not voting for a DH. I might not agree with that point, but a valid point could be made.

        I don’t support the “greatest ever” at their position, because now we’re talking “closer”, “loogy” (Rick Honeycutt), “pinch hitter”, utility player, etc. Granted not all of them are equal to Dh in PA, but at this point in baseball, a “setup man” is a position, as is loogy. Position/role … really not much difference in application.

        I think the word “position” refers to a location on the field. I think it could be argued whether DH is actually a position or not. having an abbreviation is not necessarily the determinant of “position”, as evident by PH, CP, UT, etc.

        I think sometimes we take too hard of a line on things we shouldn’t. I think there’s a lot of “gray” around the issue of DH. The only way I’d be pissed is if writers were using a “no” vote on Edgar as some sort of protest against having the DH in the first place. But, Edgar is the first player to really be a “DH” for his career, and I’m not sure anyone is really solid in their feeling on how to handle it in a fair manner.

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      • Phrozen says:

        That’s nonsense. As much as I hate the DH, it is absolutely a position–it’s defines in the rulebook alongside shortstop and catcher. “LOOGY” isn’t a position, it’s a role. Closer is a role. Utility player is a role. Those don’t compare to DH.

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      • Hub says:

        Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage: Hall Of Fame relief pitchers. One must argue their removal from the Hall before claiming all DH are ineligible.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        In that regard, relief pitcher and starting pitcher are not defined positions either, it’s just pitcher, with role being a modifier. We don’t evaluate Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera by their total IP, strikeouts, and Wins … or none of them would ever come close to the HoF. Furthermore, DH is only a “position” for slightly less than half of the teams in the major leagues. BTB evaluated relievers by WAR/200IP and there’s basically “Mo” and “everyone else”.

        Being the best DH of all-time is sort of a dubious honor in that only half of the teams have one, and very few teams have one that is a DH for his entire (or vast majority) career. There just aren’t that many positions/roles that are analogous to a DH. There have been far more pitchers that have been closers for their entire career.

        Reliever evaluations are modified for the role, same as DH. It’s entirely possible that DH’s are over-penalized for being DHs (although there really haven’t been many players that are DH for the majority of their career), but that’s what we’re trying to figure out.

        Just as relievers usually need to be among the all-time leaders in their main stat to receive HoF consideration. But looking at Sutter and Gossage, their save totals don;t look all that impressive on all-time lists, Gossage also has about 600 more IP than anyone else, and 124 wins … from a different era. I don;t think HoF voters know how to really look at closers anymore than they do DH’s as John Franco has 100+ more “saves” than Gossage and Sutter.

        Edgar at 36th all-time in wRC+ and ~30th in wOBA might be at that all-time level to receive the same consideration as a relief ace that is near or at the top in the all-time marks we use for “closers”.

        I’m just saying that DH’s aren’t treated the same as positional players for the same obvious reasons why relief aces aren’t treated as the same as starting aces.

        Not only are DH’s a unique situation, but “career DH’s” ar an even more unique situation. But, I don;t know many that view the DH as an actual position that is discussed as being similar to SS, OF, P, etc. regardless of how it defined in the rulebook.

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      • Brian says:

        IMO being the greatest at your position isn’t reeeeeaally enough for the Hall. It could make you a good borderline candidate I guess. I think it does with Edgar. But to be a shoe-in, you need to be one of the greatest of all time overall. I don’t believe Edgar quite reaches that standard. There’s a lot of guys in front of him.

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      • Don’t forget Bruce Sutter.

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  8. AA says:

    After reading more of the Gwynn posts – are you people actually serious about Gwynn and PEDs? The epitome of the fat baseball player (who was actually a pretty remarkable athlete, given how out of shape he was) and he was a roid head? Come on now.

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  9. pft says:

    Wade Boggs did not get to the HOF for his defense which was about 10% of his value. It was his 415 OBP that got him in. Martinez had a 418 OBP and is not in the HOF because he did not gift us with defense?.

    As for the steroids factor, given that guys like Tony Gwynn and Barry Larkin experienced power boosts in their declining years in the juiced ball era, it is just as likely that Martinez numbers were inflated due to the juiced ball Uncle Bud introduced after 1994 to boost attendance.

    Seriously, the HOF is becoming the Hall of Irrelevance with the bizarre selection criteria.

    As for the value of a good DH, I can only say the Red Sox would be still looking for their first ring since 1918 if not for David Ortiz. Martinez may not have been as valuable to the Mariners, but he was pretty darn valuable.

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    • Joe says:

      Wade Boggs was a +10 win fielder over his career (that’s wins, not runs). He had only 2 years below average in the field in his career

      He may not have gotten in for his defense, but what in the world are you implying? Batting +457 runs, fielding +105 runs….it’s not like he was a DH that was stuck in the field, he was an above average fielder.

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    • Brian says:

      Wade Boggs has like 25 more WAR than Edgar. Not a good comparison IMO.

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    • The Real Neal says:

      Wade Boggs got in the Hall of Fame for 12 All-Star Game appearances (Edgar had 7), his five batting titles (Edgar had 2), his .328 batting average and his 3010 hits. Things that make you famous, tend to get you into the Hall of Fame.

      When they rename the Hall of Fame “the Hall of Statistical Superiority, Regardless of PED Suspicion”, I am sure Edgar will get in relatively quickly.

      20 of the top 40 OPS hitters of all time played in 1990 or later. We know that hitters who have been identified as steroid users Palmeiro (, though his excuse rings a bit truer post Mitchell report), Sosa, Bonds and McGwire went from being good hitters to exceptional hitters, in part through the use of illegal and MLB rule violating steroid use. If Edgar Martinez and Jeff Bagwell didn’t want to be suspected of steroid use, they should have lobbied the player’s union to implement steroid testing. Did they? Why not? If they could put their numbers up clean, and the others guys couldn’t, wouldn’t they have gotten more money?

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  10. Roll tide says:

    I think people forget how hard it is to be a dh. The book proved that it lowers a players stats across the board. Heck, look at Adam Dunn. He always said that he didn’t want to dh. Edgar should get points for being one of a very few players able to be an effective dh.

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    • Bobby Ayala says:

      Agreed. 30 years from now we’ll only ever talk about 3 DH’s, Edgar, Big Hurt, and Papi. Meanwhile there’s a bunch of examples of guys trying and failing at it. Hopefully all 3 of those guys will get in and there’ll be a new found respect for DHs at some point.

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  11. Ryan says:

    “Martinez’s 69.9 WAR is less impressive than Reese’s 69.7 given the loss of prime years to military service for the latter.”

    Strongly, strongly disagree. Reese may have lost 3 years to WWII, but he got his first half season in his age 21/22 season and first full season when he was 22/23. Edgar got his first half season at 26 and full season at 27. So the “missed prime years for the war” point is easily countered by the “missed prime years because the Mariners organization was stupid” point.

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    • stan says:

      What about Edgar’s AAA and early major league stats tell you that he should have been in the majors? He certainly wasn’t bad early on but he hardly had a compelling case to make the majors.

      All I can say is that this argument would be unprecedented in consideration of hall candidates.

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      • Ryan says:

        From 1986 on at AAA, Edgar put up a .430+ OBP. Obviously, you can take minor league stats for what they’re worth – but he probably deserved a shot earlier than he got it.

        Overall, though, you’re missing my point – I’m not saying that Edgar’s late start should be taken into consideration for his HOF candidacy. Rather, just that I really don’t buy the argument that Reese’s minutely lower career WAR total is somehow more impressive than Edgar’s simply because Reese lost time that he could have been playing in the majors. Both players had shorter careers than they otherwise might have for different reasons.

        Sure, you can argue whether Edgar would have succeeded right off the bat if he’d gotten an earlier full-time call up. I’m just saying that I don’t view Reese’s career value as “more impressive” than Edgar’s because of the missed time thing.

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  12. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    It makes zero sense to me that Edgar is not in the hall of fame. I have heard the arguments against and I think they make absolutely zero sense. Edgar did not become a DH because he was defensively challenged at all. He became a DH because of persistent injuries that made it hard for him to stand for long periods of time. Moreover the Mariners had several defensive studs to play first and thirdbase so Edgar did not have to play very often. On the other hand, had Edgar been able to play enough third to qualify then he would all else the same be a slam dunk HoFamer. It makes no sense he is not in the hall. None!

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    • Brian says:

      Gotta disagree with you. At not even 70 WAR, Edgar is merely borderline to me. Can’t factor in what Edgar might have done if healthy or if he played more defense or if etc., but only what he actually did do.

      Did he do enough for the Hall? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s an obvious 100% conclusion.

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      • Andrew Kelly says:

        You think he is borderline at 70 WAR? That’s laughable. Edgar currently ranks 90th in all time fWAR for position players. There are currently 159 position players in the HOF. Obvously a few guys ahead of Edgar are currently active: Pujols, Arod, or not yet elligible; Griffey. Meaning Edgar is around the 50th percentile in terms of accumulated WAR for HOFers. Even with your small hall view your argument cannot be taken in context of what the Hall of Fame actually consists of.

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  13. crix says:

    You’re exactly right Ryan. You’ll often hear that “Gar” was a DH because he was a bad fielder. Unfortunately, Edgar was only able to play two full seasons at 3B before his hamstrings went on him. In 1990, Edgar started 139 games at third, playing in 1,196.1 innings and his Fielding was 13.0. In 1991 he started 143 games playing 1,239.2 innings and his Fielding was 6.0. So those that say Edgar was a bad fielder, don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. Also wanted to add to what Ryan said about Edgar not playing in his early 20′s. He was being blocked by then third basemen Jim Presley. So again Ryan is correct that the M’s were stupid for keeping Presley around through 1989 because Presley was a career -49.0 Fielding. Edgar Martinez is absolutely deserves to be in the Hall.

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    • Paul says:

      It’s the point of the whole Edgar debate though. If he had played 3B throughout, he would’ve been thought off much higher and probably in. But he didn’t (and if the reason is leg fragility rather than poor defense, then how does that help him?) If he had been called up earlier, he would’ve had the counting stats to get in. But he didn’t.

      Now I’m not arguing against his induction, just pointing out that it’s not really fair to give him credit for not being physically able to handle a position, or being blocked (Does Chase Utley get any extra credit for a late start, no it’s just the shitty end of the stick)

      It’s a fact that he is being penalised by some voters for not playing in the field and having a late start – we can argue whether that is his fault or his team management fault, but thems the facts, and they deflate his ‘value’ (if indeed he could’ve played 3B a a level better than the DH value hit) and ‘career totals’ (missing time obv hurts this)

      Edgar has a outstanding peak SABR case for his bat (and one I an favour of), but voters could honestly not vote for him based on career totals, or being a non-slam dunk WAR case (<70) which would be even lower as it misses most of his BSR years which would depress his value further and plenty of people even here believe that the WAR for a DH should be more heavily penalised.

      There is also the fact that he was helped to play at the age of 40 due to being a DH (anecodotely being so fragile, the wear and tear playing DEF would've led to a shorter career, and even lower counting stats)

      The thing for me with Edgar is that on a recent article here, Todd Helton was not even mentioned as a possible HoF candidate (maybe by error, but the point holds that in the writer's mind Helton didn't come up) – Helton is just about the closest comp to Edgar we have – High AVE, Elite OBP, lots of doubles, fairly close on BBREF. Helton 'now' has a better counting stat profle than Edgar, is still accumulating and has played the field (even with his bad back).

      Now Helton gets some 'Coors' discount in his career assessment (but I like it how his Home/Road stats are brought up without considering that his road stats don't get the bonus of games in Coors like other players road stats get), and I get that he is not as good a stick as Edgar (but not far off).

      So the Edgar no doubters, a question to you – what's your position on Helton? What would Helton need to do over the next 2-3years to be in the HoF?

      (I would be happy to see both in)

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  14. crix says:

    Being a DH is factored in to WAR. So Edgar’s 70 WAR alone tells you that he was good enough for the Hall. A small list of Hall of Fame ball players with similar WAR. (My opinion is that it’s just a popularity contest.)

    WAR
    Barry Larkin 70.6
    Willie McCovey 75.7
    Roberto Alomar 68.0
    Andre Dawson 62.3
    Jim Rice 56.1
    Tony Gwynn 67.9
    Ryne Sandberg 62.6
    Paul Molitor 75.2
    Gary Carter 72.5
    Dave Winfield 67.7
    Kirby Puckett 49.4
    Tony Perez 67.8
    Carlton Fisk 74.4
    Robin Yount 74.1
    Orlando Cepeda 58.3

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    • Brian says:

      To me 70 WAR is merely a strong borderline candidate.

      75 and up is a lock to me

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    • stan says:

      I think any list like this is meaningless without a parallel notation for games played or at bats. I’d also like to list these non-hall of famers with more WAR: Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, Larry Walker, Graig Nettles, Reggie Smith, Andruw Jones, Dwight Evans, Tim Raines, Joe Torre- and that doesn’t even count the guys who, like Edgar, curiously bulked up in the 90′s and suddenly saw their power numbers skyrocket.

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      • Cidron says:

        Andruw Jones hasnt been retired long enough, nor has Larry Walker, and Raines is one of the top candidates for induction soon. Torre is also not retired long enough, btw, though, his playing days are long behind him. Your list is invalid basically.

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    • Cidron says:

      and, most of those were known for their BATS, over defense. Yes, they did take the field on D, but it was a far far small part of their overall rating. Just like Edgar. Just because his team didnt put him out there shouldnt hold him back. It isnt like HE said “no, I dont want to field today” to his coach that was making up the lineup card.

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  15. hernandez17 says:

    Edgar couldn’t play a position and was a textbook case for post-30 roid usage. I don’t even understand why this warrants discussion.

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  16. hernandez17 says:

    Judging from the arguments put forward in the comments, maybe we should change the “Hall of Fame” to “Career WAR Leaders Plaque Gallery.”

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    • Andrew Kelly says:

      Would you like the counting stats? 309 Home Runs, 518 doubles, 2247 hits lifetime .312 BA, .418 OBP, .515. Slugging, 7 time All Star, 5 time Silver Slugger.

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      • Paul says:

        Do you know who else is a DH and has 7xAS and 5xSS? David Ortiz. He also has more MVP love, and a couple of WS rings, and more ‘fame’ at the outset

        He already has more HR, RBI (2 voter friendly counting stats)

        He also will likely beat out Edgar on some other counting stats (probably 2B, Total Bases, maybe R)

        Edgar obviously has much better rate stats (Ave, and the most important OBP)

        So what am I saying, Ortiz is a HoF? Well not really at this point (but lets check back when he has finished his career), but to make the point that Edgar is not getting into the HoF based on his counting stats.

        His case is a rate stats case (300/400/500), or even better put into advacned stats which highlight the elite OBP; an elite 7year consuecutive peak; and possibly a Times on Base (although that is not helping Raines so much) noting that how lowish hits number is balanced by a lot of walks.

        But the point is that his case is weak on other factors and its legitimate for a voter to apply a no if they have a high bar for the HoF

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  17. stan says:

    Edgar Martinez’ comparables on his baseball reference page are: Will Clark, Todd Helton, John Olerud, Moises Alou, Magglio Ordonez, Bob Johnson, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Ellis Burks and Carlos Lee. To me, that’s pretty compelling evidence that Edgar doesn’t belong, DH issue or not.

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  18. blovy8 says:

    I understand the borderline nature of Edgar’s hall argument, but I would vote him in – I think the same issue partially came into play with Molitor as well. There’s no way he would have amassed the value he had without having the benefit of the DH for 40 % of his games played. He was a great, but not elite player, and despite probably being an acceptable defender, he was missing a lot of playing time. Molitor got to the bigs a lot earlier, so he acquired some familiar career markers, and deserves credit for that, but I think they both have a similar issue, there just aren’t as many right handed batters putting up that kind of offense for 15 years, the leaderboards are dominated by left handed batters. I think he’s just behind Frank Thomas (a terrible fielder who balked at DHing) as a RHB for his era, and that’s a pretty good place to be. I think you can make the case that Edgar was a better teammate by accepting the DH role, rather than complaining about it, and perhaps losing time to injuries or weaking his team with declining defensive skill.

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    • stan says:

      I know that Molitor played over half his career as a DH, but you really can’t compare their careers. Edgar was never actually a factor in the field and never even donned a glove in most of his seasons. There was only one year that Molitor didn’t play at least 9 games in the field. Besides, when you talk about Molitor’s career you’re really only talking about one thing: 3000 hits. That’s a number that Edgar wouldn’t have gotten even with 5 more full seasons (he was 700+ hits short).

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  19. hernandez17 says:

    Edgar was a very good ballplayer. But not all very good ballplayers deserve HOF induction. Chet Lemon was a very good ballplayer. So was Jack Clark.

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  20. Bobby Ayala says:

    Jack, I know you wanted to compare Edgar to Reese, but at some point you had to see that the data doesn’t hold up for a good comparison. The graph should’ve been your first clue, when in year 3 of your 15-year example you see Edgar clearly take the opposite path of Reese- which contradicts the main point of your article- followed by “On the field, Martinez and Reese were complete opposites…” I’m happy to see another argument for Edgar to get in the hall, but how about some better research and a more insightful comparison? How come Frank Thomas isn’t mentioned anywhere?

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  21. Paul says:

    @Bobby, isn’t the writer’s point that Edgar is going to have the downward slide from next year? When the onslaught of primo candidates hits the ballots over the next 5 years hurts his case

    Not sure Thomas is the best comp, he is a classic early elite peak case and downward trend which looks worse that it really was because of the PED use from his contemporaries (assuming he really is the paragon of cleanliness which I do because he spoke out and if anyone had anthying on him, it would’ve come out)

    I enjoy the Helton/Edgar comp as similar hitters; and the Papi/Edgar comp is interesting in terms of where the counting stats will end up and the SS, AS, MVP, and ‘fame’ factors.

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  22. bcla says:

    Edgar’s play at 3b was just fine. He was not a career DH–he won his first batting title as a third baseman and it aggravates me that people say that about him. Compare him to right-handed hitters. Two batting titles as a slow right-handed batter. No question he is a borderline case, but taking into account his right-handedness, I think the case is stronger.

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  23. CircleChange11 says:

    Baines and Martinez are probably the only 2 guys that played DH during their “prime years”. As well, Baines was an averagish (slightly below average) on D … so neither guy was move to DH because of being bad with the glove.

    % of Games Played at DH
    —————————–
    Baines = 63%
    Thome = 36%
    Thomas = 58%
    E.Martinez = 71%

    He spent 71% of his career as a DH. He’s a career DH. In an 18-year career, Edgar played 564 games at 3B, so basically 3 seasons.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      David Ortiz = 86% DH.

      But like I said, Edgar is the first “primarily DH” or “Career DH” that is a bonafide HoF candidate.

      Baines was not a HoF candidate.

      Thomas is half-DH and not really reliant of the position for the best years of his career.

      Ortiz is a full-on DH, and reliant on the position for the best years of his career and value. There are also “other” performance issues that arise with Ortiz that coincide with switching to a full-time DH role as well.

      Ortiz may never get the counting stats and/or WAR to be a serious candidate for the HoF and/or the PED issue might keep him out.

      So, it’s possible that Edgar is the only player in baseball history that was a “career DH” that is worth looking at for the HoF. I would be willing to consider Frank Thomas as a “career DH” is people have to put in one bucket or the other. It will be interesting to see what happens with both of these guys and whether one’s situation affects the other. Does the HoF have place for both of them considering all of the players coming on the ballots in the upcoming years?

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      • Paul says:

        I’m intrigued by Ortiz.

        Putting aside any PED stuff, will he likely have a legitimate HoF case? Obviously have to play for another 2-3 years

        fWAR says pretty much hell no

        But his counting stats compare well to Edgar, and will eclipse Edgar in them if he can play for another couple of years at something like is 2010-11 performance. His hardware is the same as Edgar (7xAs, 5xSS), he has done better in the MVP voting (an maybe should’ve won an MVP), won 2WS, broke the curse, plays for a storied franchise. He has the story, and is approaching the counting stats.

        Whilst I would be happy for Edgar to go to the HoF, my basic problem with the Edgar backing for the HoF from FG is that I can make a reasonable comp to Helton for Edgar’s ‘type’ of hitter and the rate stats (with Edgar being a better stick, but Helton getting points for playing the field and a good DEF); and a comp to Ortiz for the DH% with similar ‘counting stats’ – but not many at FG are looking at these guys for the HoF (Ortiz low fWAR, with Helton missed off the ‘Active HoF consideration post’)

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