A change in thinking about the value of a designated hitter, the evolving use of sabermetric measures and growing sentiment among eligible voters gave Edgar Martinez his highest percentage of Baseball Hall of Fame votes since appearing on the ballot. But it wasn’t enough to for the Mariners’ great to garner induction for the 2017 class headed to Cooperstown, New York.
During a telecast on MLB Network on Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Idelson, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, made the live announcement of the 2017 induction class. Three former players received the necessary votes for induction — First baseman Jeff Bagwell (86.2%), outfielder Tim Raines (86%) and catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (76%).
Martinez received Hall of Fame votes on 259 of the 442 ballots submitted for a percentage of 58.6. The requirement for induction is appearing on 75 percent of the ballots, which would have been 332 this year.
Closer Trevor Hoffman fell just five votes short at 74 percent. Martinez had the fifth highest percentage of votes, just behind Vladimir Guerrero, who was on 71.7 percent of the ballots.
“In general, I would love to be over to 60 percent, but least I’m closer to 60 than 55,” Martinez joked over a conference call. “The jump is encouraging. I still have two more years to go. I think it’s moving in the right direction.”
Martinez saw the ballot tracking that was being compiled on-line and understood that he likely would come up short this year.
“We knew that it wasn’t going to happen this year,” he said. “This year was more to look and see how big the increase is and how close it is getting me to the 75 percent.
The 58.6 percent represented Martinez’s highest total since being placed on the Hall of Fame Ballot in 2010. It was a dramatic increase from the 43.4 percent he received last season, and the largest of any player on the ballot. He has two more years of eligibility to reach the necessary 75 percent for induction. Next year two strong candidates in third baseman Chipper Jones and slugging first baseman/DH Jim Thome will be added to the ballot. Only three players have ever picked up more than 50 percent in a year and failed to reach induction before their eligibility expired.
Martinez’s Hall of Fame voting percentages
- 2010 — (36.2%)
- 2011 — (32.9%)
- 2012 — (36.5%)
- 2013 — (35.9%)
- 2014 — (25.2%)
- 2015 — (27.0%)
- 2016 — (43.4%)
- 2017 — (58.6%)
Just two years ago, he appeared on just 27 percent of the ballots. So what is responsible in the big upward trend?
“I think the argument about DH, people are feeling more comfortable about (voting for one),” he said. “There’s been discussion about my situation and it’s almost been a debate about it. And people are taking a different look at the DH, and they are looking more at the sabermetric numbers and taking them into different consideration. And it seems to be helping my case.”
Martinez was complimentary of the effort made by others to push for his induction, even choking up a little offering his thanks.
“I thank everyone, all the people, including the organization,” he said. “The Mariners have done a great job of helping, getting information to the writers, and to all the fans — I see some of the things on Twitter and how many fans are really supporting me. I thank all of them and appreciate what they are doing. Hopefully it happens in the next two years. It was an honor to play here. It’s a little humbling to see the support from the fans that they want me to get in really bad. I’m almost at a loss for words.”
Here’s the full voting results.
*All candidates in italics received less than 5% of the vote on ballots cast and will be removed from future BBWAA consideration