Edgar Martinez didn’t sound bitter or angry. Even through the scratchiness of a cellphone connection, he sounded, well, like normal old Edgar — upbeat and positive, while remaining realistic about his Hall of Fame hopes.
The Mariners great understood that his chances of earning enough votes to be inducted into this year’s class were slim. He’d read stories analyzing the vote and understood that the addition of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas — all of whom were voted in Wednesday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America — made things a little more difficult for him.
“Since the writers can only vote for 10 players, and in this year’s class you have so many great players, plus the other deserving players that were still waiting to get in, I thought it could be difficult for my chances,” he said.
Martinez didn’t allow himself to even gauge the possibility. The analytical side of him wouldn’t allow it. He accepted his fate before the announcement came.
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“I knew I wasn’t going to get in,” he said.
Martinez was on just 25.2 percent of the 571 ballots this year. The percentage is down from the 35.9 percent he received last year and 36.5 in 2011.
“I’m not surprised that my percentage went down,” he said. “We just have to wait and see for the future.”
Martinez had no arguments against the three inductees. Their résumés and numbers were close to impeccable.
“They were all great players,” he said. “They deserve to be in there.”
Martinez never faced Glavine. He faced Maddux twice in his career. In 1997, at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, Martinez got his first All-Star hit off Maddux, smashing a solo homer to left field. Martinez had been hitless in five previous All-Star at-bats. The two met once in the regular season. The Braves came to Safeco Field on June 15, 2003, and Maddux made the start. He struck out 11 batters, including Martinez, who went 0 for 3, twice.
“He’s not overpowering, but his control was amazing,” Martinez said. “He had a lot of movement on the ball. He just knew how to pitch. It was amazing what he was able to do. He played in Chicago for a lot of years, and that was a hitter’s park.”
But it’s the induction of Thomas that could possibly help Martinez’s future chances. The White Sox slugger appeared in more games at designated hitter (1,310) than he did at first base (969). While most voters and fans still view Thomas as a first baseman, the argument can be made he was more of a DH.
“I think it can improve my chances,” said Martinez, primarily a DH. “But in reality, Frank’s numbers were amazing. When you have the numbers he has, over 500 homers — that’s a big number — he’s well deserving to be in the Hall of Fame. He was a great hitter. He was a definitely a first-ballot player.”
Martinez played in 1,403 games as a designated hitter. Some Hall of Fame voters haven’t been able to look beyond that stigma. But Martinez said he hopes that will change.
“What I’m hoping is that in the future, some of the statistics can extend out and I get more credit for the hitter I was and for my contributions to the team, not just that I was a DH,” he said. “I hear that a lot of writers that vote are not completely in tune with all the players and the new statistics and metrics that are being used today. Hopefully that changes and it helps. It’s hard to tell.”
As for his future, Martinez knows his former teammates — Randy Johnson (2015) and Ken Griffey Jr. (2016) — will be eligible soon and are locks to be voted in. For Mariners fans, seeing Griffey and Martinez — the heart of the batting order of the Mariners’ 1995 team — inducted together would be special. Martinez wouldn’t let himself get caught up in the possibility.
“That would be great, but I think it might take a little longer than that,” he said.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @RyanDivish