Does Edgar Martinez belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame? It's an argument that's heating up again as voters start receiving their ballots for the class of 2013.
The beloved former Mariner is back on the ballot for the fourth straight year. He's widely considered one the best hitters in recent decades, if not ever. But the big debate is whether he deserves the honor because he spent much of his storied career as a designated hitter.
"Edgar was very simply one of the top all-around hitters of his era," says longtime Mariners director of public information Tim Hevly.
The team on Monday began a new push to back Martinez's candidacy, sending out a news release touting his impressive credentials.
"He combined power with the ability to reach base safely, both at rates that rank high on the all-time lists of Hall of Fame hitters. From 1990 (when he became a regular) and his retirement in 2004, the Mariners posted a .512 winning percentage, and were one of just 11 MLB teams to win more than 1,200 games," Hevly said.
Longtime Mariners beat reporter Shannon Drayer agrees that Martinez deserves a spot in Cooperstown. Drayer argues he was the dominant player at his position while he played, and the best of the best at any position merits entrance to the Hall.
"If Mariano Rivera is going to be in the Hall of Fame some day, then Edgar should be as well. He was that good at his position, a feared hitter in his day," Drayer says.
"As for the thought with some voters that his career was too short, I would argue that he did more in his years than many in the Hall of Fame did in careers that were much longer. Edgar had as much on-base value over his career as Pete Rose, who played 10 years longer, did."
Martinez's lengthy resume includes two American League batting titles, three American League on-base percentage titles, five Silver Slugger Awards, seven All-Star game appearances and five Designate Hitter of the Year awards (an award now named in his honor.)
"Edgar is one of only 10 players in Major League history to have collected over 300 HR, 500-plus doubles, 1000-plus walks, boast an average over .300 and an on-base percentage over .400," Hevly says.
Five of those 10 have been inducted in Cooperstown. Martinez finished his career with 2,247 hits, 514 doubles, 1,283 walks, 309 home runs, a .312 career batting average and a .418 career on-base percentage.
Drayer also argues that unlike some players like Ichiro who got many hits based on their speed, the less-than-speedy Martinez earned all his hits.
"His hits were hits. He was not beating out infield singles at any point in his career," Drayer says.