Today marks the 45th anniversary of the vote that created the designated hitter, so it seems like as good a time as any to check in on Edgar Martinez’s effort to make the Hall of Fame.
Over the past month, the Seattle Mariners star’s grip on enshrinement seems to have slipped a bit. He needs 75 percent of the votes to qualify. On Dec. 14, Martinez had 83 percent of the 47 ballots that were made public, according to ballot tracker Ryan Thibodaux. As of Thursday morning, Martinez had 80.4 percent of 179 ballots.
While it’s still good enough to earn a spot in Cooperstown, fewer than half of the ballots are known at this point. An estimated 424 ballots will be cast. So far, 22 voters have added Martinez to their ballot after not voting for him last year, while three dropped him from their ballots after voting for him last year.
“I don’t think Edgar fans should get their hopes up too much for this year,” Thibodaux told the Seattle PI in December. “It was always going to be incredibly difficult for him to make up all the ground he needs to this year alone.”
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The Class of 2018 will be announced on Jan. 24. If Martinez misses the cut for a ninth time, he can appear on the 2019 ballot, but players are removed from the ballot after 10 years.
Also currently receiving enough of the known votes for enshrinement are former Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones (98.3 percent), former Montreal outfielder Vladimir Guerrero (94.4), former San Diego reliever Trevor Hoffman (78.2) and former Cleveland first baseman Jim Thome (93.3). Former Baltimore pitcher Mike Mussina is also close with 73.2 percent of the known votes.
Twenty-one players appear on the 2018 ballot; members of the Baseball Writers Association of America can vote for up to 10. Since 2010, when Martinez first appeared on the ballot, an average of two players per year have been voted in by the writers. In 2015, four players were selected. In 2013, none made the cut.
The veterans committee can also select players for induction after they no longer appear on the ballot. Former Detroit Tigers stars Jack Morris and Alan Trammell have already been selected by the committee for the 2018 class.
Martinez played 18 seasons for the Mariners and hit .312 with 309 homers. The argument against his enshrinement has traditionally centered around the fact that he was designated hitter. Frank Thomas is the only Hall of Famer to play more than half of his career (56.4 percent of his 2,322 games) as a designated hitter. Martinez played 68.3 percent (1,403 games) of his career as designated hitter and 27.3 percent at third base.
He won the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award five times. When he retired the award was renamed the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.
Five former Mariners have made the Hall of Fame: Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Gaylord Perry, Ricky Henderson and Rich “Goose” Gossage. Former Mariners manager Dick Williams is also in the hall. Of those, only Griffey is depicted in a Mariners cap on his plaque.