With just moments to spare, we've got Dan Shaughnessy's Hall of Fame ballot. It's not the worst ballot I've seen. It's short: just three names. And I heartily endorse two of them: Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven (the other, Jack Morris, not so much). And since I'm on the fence about Edgar Martinez, I can't reasonably complain about his omission. Shaughnessy's reasoning, on the other hand:
- The Mariners have campaigned madly for Edgar and it pains me to withhold my vote, but I just can't bring myself to put him in Cooperstown alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to define what was pornographic, "but I know it when I see it."
For me, it's the same with Hall of Famers. Some guys just strike you as Cooperstown-worthy and others do not. Edgar Martinez was a very fine hitter, but I never said to myself, "The Mariners are coming to Fenway this weekend. I wonder how the Sox are going to pitch to Edgar Martinez?"
It was different with players like Eddie Murray and Jim Rice. They were feared. Murray got into Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility (thanks to 500 homers, no doubt), while it took Rice 15 years to finally get the required 75 percent of votes. Both were feared sluggers who spent a lot of time in the field before becoming DHs as elder statesmen.
A lifetime .312 average is impressive and Edgar's OPS puts him in an elite class. But he wasn't a home run hitter (309), he couldn't carry a team, he didn't scare you, and (sorry) he rarely played defense. Edgar spent a couple of years at third for the M's in the early 1990s before taking over as full-time DH.
The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime, no doubt will be able to demonstrate that Edgar was better than Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. I'm not buying. Stats don't tell the whole story. A man can drown in three feet of water.
Edgar Martinez was a fine hitter and got on base a lot. But he was a corner infielder who didn't hit a lot of homers and then he became a guy who spent the majority of every game watching from the bench.
No Hall for Edgar.
Just to be clear about something: When Shaughnessy writes about "the stats geeks ... sucking all the joy out of our national pastime?" He means me. Well, me and some of my best friends. That's OK. I've been called worse.
Anyway, that's just Shaughnessy's opinion. He's entitled to it. But the rest of this is just opinion, too.
Eddie Murray finished his career with a .476 slugging percentage. Edgar Martinez finished his career with a .515 slugging percentage. Maybe Shaughnessy never wondered how the Red Sox would pitch to Edgar Martinez, but I'll bet you all the tea in the Boston Harbor that the Red Sox wondered how they should pitch to Edgar Martinez.
Jim Rice, a scary right-handed hitter, drew 77 intentional walks in his career. Edgar Martinez, a scary right-handed hitter, drew 113 intentional walks in his career. Which of them was scarier? Intentional walks aren't everything. They are something.
It's funny ... When you don't like a candidate, you say he doesn't measure up to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. When you do like a candidate, you say he was better than Tony Perez and Luis Aparicio and Orlando Cepeda.
It's an odd way of thinking. But I guess you can't beat the hours.