It didn’t take long for the internet to find the new Tim Raines. Thanks to the help of passionate fans and advanced stats, Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez has moved to the precipice of Hall of Fame induction with another surge from the voters.
Martinez just missed out on the Hall in 2018, finishing with 70.4 percent of the vote. That’s a solid improvement over 2017, when he received 58.6 percent of the vote. He’s now less than five percent away from the 75 percent threshold needed to make the Hall of Fame.
The idea of Martinez getting this close to induction was not possible just a few years ago. As recently as 2015, Martinez was polling at just 25.2 percent of the vote. That figure put him below Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling.
In just three years, he’s surpassed them all. Among the holdover candidates, Martinez is now next in line to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Martinez’s surge couldn’t have come at a better time. He faces his final year of eligibility in 2019. If Martinez misses out on induction next year, he’ll fall off the ballot.
Like Raines, Martinez has received plenty of support from the Internet community. Unlike Raines, there’s no face behind campaign. CBS Sports baseball writer Jonah Keri worked to increase Raines’ support over the years. Keri was ultimately successful, and received a shoutout from Raines during his Hall of Fame induction speech.
Instead of one prominent writer nudging him forward, Martinez’s candidacy has seen a boost from a number of passionate supporters. It’s not just Mariners fans — though they are among his most supreme advocates — it’s also stat gurus, sabermetrically inclined websites, former teammates and current players.
The general gist of their argument: Martinez was a criminally underrated hitter during his career who gets unfairly punished for playing in Seattle, being Ken Griffey Jr.’s teammate and spending the majority of his career as a designated hitter.
It’s fitting that Martinez’s rising Hall of Fame vote totals have coincided with the end of Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s career. As Ortiz moved closer to retirement, reflections on his career all seemed to make it clear Ortiz would be a future Hall of Famer.
That may have caused some voters to re-evaluate Martinez. Because when you compare the two, Martinez compares favorably to Ortiz, even beating him in a number of significant areas.
Ortiz wins out in most counting stats, as he broke into the majors much earlier and played two more seasons. Martinez didn’t receive more than 200 plate appearances in the majors until he was 27. Ortiz reached that milestone four times before turning 27.
There is still hope for Martinez if he fails to get the votes needed for induction in 2019. In that scenario, he would have to rely on an Eras Committee to give him another shot.
Given the voting trends, that won’t be necessary. After years of waiting, Martinez is set to take the Raines path to the Hall of Fame and get into Cooperstown in his final year on the ballot.
He realizes that may be the case:
— Edgar Martinez (@11EdgarMartinez) January 24, 2018
The wait should be a little easier for Martinez, though. He did plenty of it before the Mariners realized what they had. Once Martinez finally got his opportunity, his career was well worth the wait.
It looks like it will be the same with the Hall of Fame.
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More Hall of Fame coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Four baseball greats become Hall of Famers
• Tim Brown: The theater of Vladimir Guerrero
• Ex-Braves star’s ‘crazy’ Hall of Fame ride
• Can Schilling overcome his mouth to make Hall of Fame?
• Bonds, Clemens hit roadblock on path to Hall