M's Edgar Martinez could fall 'heartbreakingly short' of Hall
Edgar Martinez's last major league at-bat came on Oct. 4, 2004, but he's taken a good hack at election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year. Just days before this year's class of inductees is introduced, Martinez is on the cusp of Cooperstown.
The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the 2018 inductees Wednesday at 3 p.m. Pacific on MLB Network. Martinez, 55, has been named on 162 of the 203 ballots tallied by vote-tracker extraordinaire Ryan Thibodaux as of Monday afternoon. Martinez, a seven-time All-Star is in his eighth year of Hall-of-Fame eligibility (out of 10), needs to be on 75 percent of the ballots for election, but only about half have been cast thus far.
So what does Thibodaux think will happen with Martinez in the final days of voting?
"I still think he's likely to fall just short," Thibodaux told SeattlePI. "Heartbreakingly short. But there is definitely still a chance ... fingers crossed."
That prediction jives with Thibodaux's prognostication last month, when he said Mariners fans should be looking at 2019 for induction instead of 2018. Of course, falling short of the ultimate prize is nothing new for M's fans. The team, which hasn't qualified for the postseason since 2001, has the longest current playoff drought in major North American team sports.
Martinez made a big jump in last year's voting, when he was named on 58.6 percent of 442 ballots cast. That continued a trend: He set his previous high of 43.4 percent in 2016 after never surpassing 36.5 percent in his first six years of eligibility.
This year, he's sitting at 79.8 percent, gaining 21 ballots from voters who didn't include him last year. Only Larry Walker -- the former Expos, Rockies and Cardinals slugger who is also in his eighth year of eligibility -- has more new votes so far, with 29, but Walker has been named on just 40.4 percent of ballots tracked by Thibodaux. Only Chipper Jones (98.5), Vladimir Guerrero (94.6) and Jim Thome (93.1) are ahead of Martinez so far in 2018 voting.
Martinez, who now serves as Seattle's hitting coach, was a career .312 hitter over 2,055 games spanning 18 major league seasons. He won two American League batting titles (1992 and 1995), hit 309 home runs and 514 doubles and drove in 1,261 RBIs over his career, which began in 1987.
The winner of five Silver Slugger Awards, his career .933 OPS ranks ahead of Hall of Famers like Hank Aaron (.929), Frank Robinson (.926) and former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. (.907), who became the first player ever inducted into the hall as a member of the Mariners in 2016.
The award for baseball's best designated hitter, won by Seattle's Nelson Cruz in 2017, was named for Martinez in 2004.
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